Capstone Course: IS 495
International Policy Formulation
Each Spring Semester, faculty associated with the Martin School of International Affairs teach a senior seminar on International Policy Formulation. This serves as the "capstone" to a senior's academic experience at the UI and exposes students to the nuances of formulating policy. Work is directed towards the production of a white paper, which is a comprehensive document commonly used by governmental organizations and non-governmental organizations alike to state their policy goals.
Under the umbrella of the general topic of international policy, a subtopic is selected each semester. In the past, these have included fresh water issues between nations and border conflict issues. These subtopics are selected per their applicability to each IS regional and issue emphasis. Therefore, papers on freshwater issues written for the 2001 senior seminar considered economic issues (shipping rights, hydroelectric production, irrigation claims), resource and development issues (pollution, poison, fishing claims), and international relations issues (border claims, militarization).
The format for white papers differs from organization to organization, but all share certain commonalities: a clear statement of the problem under consideration, a review of potential solutions, and advocacy of a particular solution to that problem. For the purposes of the IS Capstone Course, we require the following format:
- A 1.5 page overview of the problem
- Half to three-quarter page summaries of all possible solutions to the problem
- A 1.5 page section advocating what the student considers the "best" solution to the problem
Quality of writing as well as caliber of research contribute to the student's grade. In addition, students present their information orally in a professional manner.
The following white paper by Arrah La Bolle received the Outstanding Research Paper Award in the Martin School for 2008; examples of successful papers from the 2009 capstone class can be found in the Journal of the Martin School:
Examples of Professional White Papers: