Browsing Master's Program in International Affairs (MPIA) Capstones by Issue Date
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County Judge Randy Sims, Texas Director of Homeland Security; Department of Homeland Security ( 2006)[more][less]
Description: Gaps of understanding exist between Homeland Security Response and Recovery strategies and policies at the federal level versus understanding, authority, and capability at the state and local level. Responsibilities, authority, and expectations at every level of government (including the public) need to be clarified. Hurricanes Katrina and Rita provide an excellent case study to see what policies should be changed in the areas of response and recovery to major disasters in the future.
A variety of strategies, policies, and plans are already in place to deal with disasters and catastrophic events. Faculty members provided access to documents that describe the policies, as well as a framework to examine response and recovery "at the tip of the spear." Students selected the aspect of the framework they wished to address, fleshed it out in detail through discussions and research, identified the gaps in theory, used Hurricanes Katrina and/or Rita to examine how those gaps developed in reality, and developed a set of policy recommendations to close those gaps. The final student recommendations were presented to the clients.
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Confidential and Privileged: The President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board - Learning Lessons from Its Past to Shape Its FutureAbsher, Kenneth Michael; Desch, Michael; Popadiuk, Roman; Ambassador David Abshire and the Laury Foundation ( 2006)[more][less]
Description: The President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) was established in 1956 to provide the President with a nonpartisan evaluation of the role and effectiveness of U.S. intelligence collection, counterintelligence, covert action operations, and intelligence analysis. Over the years, PFIAB has evolved to reflect the needs of the times and in response to the style of each president. In addition, the government has created new centers and other organizations leading to competing views and the bureaucratic challenge of coordination and oversight of intelligence.
No detailed analysis of PFIAB had been conducted. In the wake of the 9/11 tragedy and the new intelligence reform environment, it was essential to examine the role of the PFIAB in the past to determine how it best can serve future presidents' national security decision-making responsibilities. The aim of the analysis was to determine what had been the strengths and weaknesses of the PFIAB in the past and to identify a productive role for the PFIAB in this new environment. Given the current intelligence needs of the country, such an examination was essential. It helped further define the role of PFIAB and shed light on the interrelationship of various intelligence components. Most importantly, it provided recommendations for presidential action to redefine, and possibly augment, the role of the PFIAB.
Files in this item: 1Desch_2006.pdf (758.7Kb)
Atkinson, Dwain; Collins, Matthew; Colmenares, Monica; McBane, Carla; Ritter, Kyle; Welling, Glen ( 2006)[more][less]
Description: The Iraqi insurgency was formed by multiple nationalities and ethnicities with disparate goals and motivations. A central question to understanding the insurgency's unity is whether there is command and control, which is defined as the sharing of tactics, information, and skills. This capstone explored this question by investigating how insurgent groups in the past have managed to communicate and disseminate tactics, even while operating in a dangerous environment controlled by their more powerful adversary. The class then applied this historical lesson to the current situation in Iraq and examined whether the history of attacks indicated command and control in the Iraqi insurgency.
Files in this item: 1Engel_2006.pdf (380.1Kb)
Coffman-Cole, Sandra; Du, Minghua; Hattan, Justin; Powers, Shawn; Rubenstein, Sarah; Santos, Araceli; Slupski, Steve ( 2006)[more][less]
Description: Much of the world's poor has difficulty in obtaining loans, especially the small loans (termed microfinance) they require. In order to improve access, Mohammed Yunus founded the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, which uses innovative methods so the poor can obtain loans. The lessons of the Grameen Bank have been replicated worldwide, including in India in 2004 with Grameen Capital India (GCI). GCI partners with commercial banks such as the largest Indian private bank, ICICI bank, and Citigroup in order to provide funds to microfinance institutions. It structures its financial products so that low-income producers can access capital markets through various initiatives. GCI wants to expand this effort because only 5 % of Indian microfinance demand is now being met but is concerned that expanding is difficult. They believe they can learn much from an organization that has successfully increased its scale.
A parallel organization in the U.S. is the Community Reinvestment Fund (CRF, crfusa.com). The CRF provides economic development funds and acts as a secondary market for loans for affordable housing and community facilities. Founded in 1989, with lending institutions in 22 states, the CRF has more experience than GCI in expanding operations. Students in this capstone project interacted with members from both the CRF and GCI and applied the lessons of the CRF to the GCI. They provided valuable advice to GCI on how it can enhance financial assistance for very small entrepreneurs in India, especially housing finance.
In this endeavor, students became familiar with one of the most popular of development fields. They actively engaged in current discussions on financial development in India and enhanced their own analytical skills in the fields of economics and finance.
Files in this item: 1Varghese_2006.pdf (999.2Kb)
Princeton University Press ( 2007)[more][less]
Description: Students researched the diary of George Bush, 41st President of the United States, written during the time that he served as the Chief of the U.S. Liaison Office in Beijing (1974-1975). Searching through archives and preparing text and footnotes, the students contributed work for an upcoming publication from Princeton University Press, expected in 2008. Students also presented their work to interested parties within the Bush School and Library.
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Long Range Analysis Group, Intelligence Council (Director of National Intelligence) ( 2007)[more][less]
Description: Looking ahead to 2025, what policies should future US administrations consider as appropriate responses to climate change, and what level of commitment should be devoted to addressing global climate change by the US government? To answer the key question, the project addressed the following secondary issues:
1.Based on the best scientific evidence currently available, what will the most likely manifestations of global climate change be by 2025? This includes aggregate changes (surface temperatures, rising sea levels) as well as discrete changes (drought, flooding, disease, storms, heat waves). With respect to the latter, what are the probabilities that such events will be more (or less severe) than they are today? 2.Based on the answers to the above, how politically salient will the issue of responding to global climate change be in 2025 (globally, by geographic region/location, by coalitions of similarly situated countries)? 3.What low-probability, but potentially catastrophic events, may occur and how should these be taken into account by US policy? 4.Responding to global climate change could be costly financially. However, there also could be positive spin-offs from addressing the consequences of global climate change. What may these positive spin-offs be (new technologies, energy independence, health, multilateral leadership, reputation gains)?
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The Interagency Process in Support & Stability Operations: Integrating and Aligning the Roles and Missions of Military and Civilian Agencies in Conflict and Post-Conflict EnvironmentsBaetjer, Patrick; Cline, Chris; Hernandorena, Carlos; Polley, Brian; Rogers, Kate; Smith, Amanda; Voelkel, Tyson ( 2007)[more][less]
Description: This study addressed the support, stability, and reconstruction missions and tasks for the U.S. government in counterinsurgency warfare and suggests that interagency processes between civilian and military elements are in need of reform as a prerequisite for improving U.S. performance in complex counterinsurgencies. The project examined, assessed, and defined the nature of these problems in the context of historical case studies, policymaking, and current operations, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, suggesting several ways to improve agency and interagency structures, as well as the education and training of core interagency civilian and military professionals. The findings were presented at a conference on the topic, hosted by the Bush School and the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army.
Files in this item: 1Cerami_2007.pdf (2.302Mb)
Napper, Ambassador Larry; Department of State ( 2007)[more][less]
Description: Students worked to develop an extensive database on contemporary Uzbekistan through library and online research and interviews with leading American and foreign experts on Uzbekistan and the region. In order to explore the challenges, opportunities, and policy options that will confront U.S. policy-makers, Bush School students constructed and executed a multi-move simulation. The simulation did not provide definitive answers, as different players in the simulation and future U.S. policy-makers may reach different conclusions on the most effective and constructive policy options.
Files in this item: 1Napper_2007.ppt (254.4Kb)
Cabrera, Raul; Cochran, Matt; Dangelmayr, Lauren; D'Aguilar, Gavin; Lee, Jeongwoo; Speir, Ian; Weigand, Courtney ( 2007)[more][less]
Description: This capstone project deals with standards imposed on the trade of agricultural imports from developing countries by developed countries. BSE, foot and mouth disease, and avian flu are all major concerns for US and European consumers. These governments are extremely risk averse and want to reduce the risk of transmitting any kind of disease, especially those borne by agricultural products, to zero. There is no tolerance for risk. But is there a less burdensome system that also can achieve the zero-tolerance policy?
One of the requirements is that there be no contact between different animals. For example, hoofed animals, which may be possible carriers of foot and mouth disease, must be completely separated from each other. This requires building artificial barriers to separate the animals. But this has deleterious effects for tourism in African countries, where tourists from the developed world go on safaris to see animals. Building fences and artificial barriers reduces the naturalness of the habitat and reduces the attraction for tourism. In order to reduce the cost of the fences, agencies like USAID may subsidize the building of the fences, but they do not subsidize the loss in tourism. Thus there are real costs to these countries. So the main questions this project addressed were these:
1.Are there any alternatives? 2.Is it possible to institute policies that are less burdensome and yet achieve the desired outcome (which is to reduce the risk of spreading diseases)?
Files in this item: 1Gawande_2007.pdf (492.8Kb)
Gawande, Kishore; Chiriboga, Luis M.; Kilmer, Chris; Fan, Rocky; World Bank, Trade Division ( 2008)[more][less]
Description: This is the second part of a study that began by asking whether exports to developed countries are hampered by the inability of developing Southern African countries to participate fully in the meat export market. The project was broken into two segments focusing on the formal and informal sectors. After conducting in-depth research and refining the development problem, students designed a survey model and flew two group members to Southern Africa to conduct a survey. The survey was designed to help answer why Southern African countries were not participating at greater levels in the meat export market. Using supportive research, economic development theory, and the survey results, students then compiled a report which was presented to the client.
Files in this item: 1Gawande_2008.pdf (524.4Kb)
Heavin, Reagan; Hudson, Adam; Krueger, Brandon; O'Neil, Sean; Rozell, Griffin; Suma, Matt ( 2008)[more][less]
Description: This project supported the National Intelligence Council's production of its report Mapping the Global Future: 2025, forthcoming 2009. With China's great rise to power in the background, this capstone helped assess the most likely security outcomes for East Asia in 2025. The Capstone briefed the NIC and other analysts from the intelligence community and also briefed the China desk team under the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs in the Department of Defense.
Files in this item: 1Layne_2008.pdf (1.048Mb)
Abraham, Phebey; Cantrell, Catherine; Carman, Tara; Gruenwald, Emily; Rowley, Thomas A. ( 2008)[more][less]
Description: This 2008 Capstone research continues the work of a 2007 project titled "The Interagency Process in Support & Stability Operations: Integrating and Aligning the Roles and Missions of Military and Civilian Agencies in Conflict and Post-Conflict Environments." The 2007 Capstone study included analyses of interagency efforts in the conduct of US and NATO operations in counterinsurgency warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan. This 2008 study analyzed how US national security policies, strategies, and objectives have changed since 2001. It also estimated the effectiveness of the contemporary national security system, including institutions, organizations, and leadership in addressing what international security experts call "human security," or threats to the survival of societies, groups, and individuals.
Files in this item: 1Cerami_2008.pdf (21.13Mb)
Napper, Ambassador Larry; Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Ft. Polk, Louisiana ( 2008)[more][less]
Description: Two separate but parallel capstones combined intensive classroom study and civilian support field exercises to US military counterinsurgency operations, focused on the model of interagency Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Students visited JRTC in Louisiana March 2008 to play a PRT role during the training of a US Army Combat brigade en route to Iraq. Upon return from Louisiana, students prepared a written After Action Report and Lessons Learned that included recommendations for future PRT role players and trainers for the JRTC.
Files in this item: 1Napper_2008.pdf (1.421Mb)
Engel, Jeffrey A.; Centra Technology; Department of Homeland Security ( 2009)[more][less]
Description: Government agencies face special problems when they seek to assess non-disaster security risks in areas where there are multiple jurisdictions and levels of governance. The client, Centra Technology, in support of the Department of Homeland Security, sought a conceptual approach or theoretical model for determining how governments should value, assess, and balance risks that arise from illegal immigration, weapons smuggling, the narcotics trade, natural disasters, and terrorism. The students compiled and evaluated the available literature on the subject and developed a structure by which policymakers should consider the difficulties of regional risk assessment.
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Investigating the Current Terrorist Threat to the U.S. Homeland - Determining al-Qa'ida's Targeting Strategy: Who's in the Crosshairs?Bacon-Ward, Ashley; Bell, Kevin; Brandt, Gretchen; Brown, Nathan; Figuerola, Andy; Foix, Marissa; Formanek, Mary; Holden, David; Vrdoljak, Denis ( 2009)[more][less]
Description: This project analyzed the current terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland both from homegrown terrorists and those who represent foreign terrorist organizations or who come to the United States to carry out an act of terrorism. Although there has been no terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11, the assumption that there is little support for al-Qaeda or the jihadi worldview from U.S. citizens or others is challenged by recent cases that reveal there are still individuals in the country who may become involved in terrorist activity. The study examined recent cases of thwarted attacks and failed plots to determine current capabilities and tactics possessed by terrorist groups and individuals. The students also looked at how successful al-Qaeda and those who share its views have been at finding new recruits for U.S. operations.
Files in this item: 2Daly_Spring2009.pdf (786.3Kb)(more files)
Combating Child Labor through DESTINO - Reducing Child Labor in Panama: An Impact Evaluation of a Department of Labor-Funded InitiativeAndisha, Nasir; Chiquito-Saban, Oscar; Emmerich, Eduardo; Figueroa, Aurelia; Jiang, Yuewen; Hui-Lee, Jun; Manning, Darren; Ortega-Sanchez, Alejandra ( 2009)[more][less]
Description: This project focused on how to reduce child labor in Panama, using the DESTINO (Disminuyendo y Erradicando el Trabajo Infantil para Nuevas Oportunidades) program, a joint effort of two Panamanian organizations: Casa Esperanza and Fundacion Tierra Nueva. DESTINO seeks to reduce the incidence of child labor through community workshops, income generation activities, scholarship activities, teacher training programs, and civil society programs. The study looked at child labor statistics gathered by DESTINO as well as additional work done by the Centro de Capacitacin y Desarrollo Integral to improve income generating activities among indigenous women. The DESTINO project is funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and is being managed by Creative Associates.
Files in this item: 1destinoimpactevaluation_report.pdf (1.422Mb)
Napper, Ambassador Larry; Nuclear Nonproliferation Office of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) ( 2009)[more][less]
Description: This capstone project conducted a focused examination of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) and identified options for U.S. policy makers by designing a simulated interdiction operation. The simulation involved a cargo aircraft carrying sensitive nuclear components bound for Iran that stops for refueling in a Central Asian country, thus creating the opportunity for cooperative action. Capstone students joined students from Texas A&M's Department of Nuclear Engineering to construct and execute a mini-move simulation. In addition to a literature review and interviews with PSI experts, the students conducted an initial play of the simulation for the client along with an after action report.
Files in this item: 2Napper_Spring2009.pdf (744.8Kb)(more files)
Effective Intelligence Operations during Counterinsurgency Campaigns - Intelligence Community in Counterinsurgency: Historical Lessons and Best PracticesAlbers, Andrew C.; Binkley, Samuel G.; Chaudhry, Mariam F.; Craswell, Kimberly; Freeman, Jordan S.; Lytle, Carrie E.; Myers, Tristan L.; Naser, Rami; Sloan, Peter T. ( 2009)[more][less]
Description: The United States Army's recently published field manual detailing an improved counterinsurgency doctrine is seen by many as a crucial step towards improving military effectiveness in counterinsurgency campaigns. This capstone project laid out a framework to help the intelligence community craft its own unique doctrine for counterinsurgencies. The project looked at intelligence operations that are crucial for defeating insurgencies, the operational factors that are most effective, and the lessons learned from past counterinsurgency successes and failures. Blending historical case studies and first-person accounts from field operatives, the project outlined the kinds of intelligence operations that should be implemented and the goals they must meet in order to run a successful counterinsurgency.
Files in this item: 1Castillo_Spring2009.pdf (1.221Mb)
Acuña, Sarah; Akujuobi, Chris; Brigance, Nicholas; Kasper, Brian; Nearburg, Trevor ( 2010)[more][less]
Abstract: With the current public outrage at the environmental consequences of the oil spill in the Gulf, the president is likely to gain much needed support for his promotion of climate change legislation. A market driven switch to alternative and renewable energy will require a bill that puts a price on carbon and gives producers incentives to switch to and invest in cleaner, more efficient inputs and processes. Such a bill must meet two criteria. First, it must not harm the competitiveness of domestic producers relative to their foreign counterparts; and second, it must minimize emission leakage, thereby reducing global emissions levels. In this project for the US Department of Energy, we model the impacts of future US climate legislation. Policy scenarios are drawn from the precedence set by the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACESA), which the US Senate did not pass in 2010 but which serves as a blueprint for the future. The goal of the ACESA is to motivate US producers to reduce emissions in five manufacturing industries: Iron and Steel, Non-ferrous Metals, Non-metallic Minerals, Pulp and Paper, and Chemicals. Collectively, these sectors make up the most energy-intensive trade-exposed (EITE) sectors in the world. While the bill did not pass in its current form, future legislation will incorporate its three main policies: instituting a cap and trade system in the US, output-based rebates on allowance purchases, and an import tax on embodied emissions.
Files in this item: 2Gawande_Spring2010.pdf (739.2Kb)(more files)
Coffman, Amy Beth; Crump, James Andrew; Dickson, Robbi K.; Mueller, Meaghan; Pulis, Sarah L. ( 2010)[more][less]
Abstract: Only Ukraine's civilian and military leadership can determine the best course of action Ukraine should undertake to secure the Black Sea region (BSR). By analyzing Ukraine's precarious security environment and assessing the current security situation in the Black Sea, this paper first sought to identify a prototype for Ukraine's role in the BSR. However, the result of this search was a clear realization of Ukraine's unique situation. Ukraine is a nation with divisionary demographics, external pressures on internal politics, and mixed ideas about economic opportunities and priorities in a neighborhood of states with competing influences and capabilities.
Files in this item: 1Thornton_Fall2010.pdf (2.035Mb)