In winter quarter 2022, over 100 international studies and global and regional studies seniors and several juniors completed the Jackson School’s Donald C. Hellmann Task Force Program, a capstone course that involves 10-weeks of research, writing and group collaboration on a current global issue. Student-led and guided by faculty, the program culminates during Task Force Evaluation Week, when each Task Force presents to an external, senior-level foreign policymaker.
Name: Madison Morgan
Expected to graduate: Spring 2022
Degree: International Studies and minoring in Korean and political science
Task Force 2022: Global Trends in Energy and Emissions: Key Points for Policy Decision-Making
Jackson School Faculty Adviser: Scott L. Montgomery
External Evaluator: Devin Helfrich, Policy Advisor to Senator Maria Cantwell
What has been your favorite Task Force experience?
Madison Morgan: My favorite Task Force experience was having the opportunity to work with such an incredible team. At the beginning of the quarter, we had a discussion on what goals we wanted to accomplish through our report, and I think with hard work, communication, and collaboration, we were able to accomplish them. That feeling of accomplishment — as well as the overwhelming thought of ‘We did it!’ — was most tangible for me when we submitted our ﬁnal report, as it was the culmination of more than two months of researching, writing, and editing.
What key skills do you think the Task Force program gives you?
M.M.: Task Force gave me the conﬁdence and equipped me with the tools to make meaningful change. Speciﬁcally, Task Force helped me build a foundation of necessary skills regarding research and policy writing, including how to be a thoughtful consumer of news and media, methods to eﬃciently synthesize data, and how to create impactful works. The Task Force program is a great way of dipping your toes into the (metaphorical) water of international studies without being too overwhelmed, and under the instruction of Professor Scott Montgomery, I was able to learn about a topic I am passionate about — the climate crisis — on a much deeper level.
In your own words, how would you promote the Task Force program?
M.M.: Regarding Task Force, my advice for prospective students is to become familiar with the phrase “done is better than perfect.” Task Force sounds like a really daunting project — which in some ways it is — but it is an opportunity to demonstrate to yourself what you have learned within the Jackson School — not about making the perfect report or having the perfect answers, because those are impossible feats. It’s about showing yourself your personal growth.
What career are you interested in pursuing after graduation?
M.M.: I’m asking myself the same question (and so are my parents)! After graduation, I’d like to go to graduate school for a master’s degree in international studies with a focus on the environment. After which, I hope to pursue a career related to environmental policy and sustainability.