The Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies

Task Force

The Donald C. Hellmann Task Force Program

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Task Force is a capstone experience for undergraduates in the Jackson School. Students work in teams recommending responses to international problems. Their recommendations are evaluated by outside experts.

5 Things to know about Task Force

Unique Experience
  • The Jackson School’s degree program is the only undergraduate major in the U.S. with a Task Force capstone experience.
  • Over 3,500 students have completed Task Force since 1983, producing more than 200 policy reports.
2019 Task Force on Humanitarian Aid Under Stress: Assessing the Role of NGOs with Instructor Mark Ward
  • Task Force students work in teams on a common project with common purpose, under the direction of expert faculty.
  • Key leadership roles are assigned to students, including editor and project coordinator.
Christopher Backemeyer talking at a table
Christopher Backemeyer, Principal Deputy Coordinator for Sanctions Policy, served as external evaluator in 2016 for Congressman Adam Smith's Task Force on U.S. Policy Toward Iran After the Nuclear Deal.
Time Pressure!
  • Students conduct research on fast-moving international issues.
  • Task Force teams have to meet tight deadlines and provide up-to-date analysis for their reports and policy recommendations.
Student study in the Graduate Reading Room at Suzzallo Library, University of Washington Seattle Campus, January 25th, 2012. Photo by Katherine B. Turner
  • Students taking Task Force have completed at least six advanced courses in international studies.
  • Task Force students have to translate their coursework and research into effective policy writing – and into effective presentations to their expert evaluators.
Jackson School senior Alexander Nelson presenting findings of the Task Force on ‘Redefining American Leadership’ to the evaluator, former U.S. Rep Jim McDermott
  • The Task Force experience helps students build career-relevant skills such as teamwork, negotiating deadlines and effective writing.
  • Many Task Forces provide research and recommendations that are used in decision-making by NGOs, communities and governments.
Asia-Pacific Maritime Security Task Force 2017
The "Asia-Pacific Maritime Security’ Task Force team after their final presentation to Admiral Jonathan Greenert, former head of the U.S. Navy (center, in suit). Task Force instructor and adviser Professor Tabitha Mallory is on the right.