NewsOct 26, 2018

Students tackle international affairs problems at national competition

Two teams of Lesley undergraduates competed in the Yale International Policy Competition

Students Najifa Tanjeem, Mecivir-Tersoo-Ivase and Rianne-Elsadig pose for a selfie outside at Yale
Photo: (Left to right) Students Najifa Tanjeem, Mecivir-Tersoo-Ivase and Rianne-Elsadig pose for a selfie outside of the Yale International Policy Competition.

At the recent Yale International Policy Competition, Lesley students tried to solve the world’s problems or, more specifically, current conflicts related to the South China Sea.

The first team of Lesley students, featuring members Kolette Bodenmiller, Lesley Ells, Jacob Hicks and Tamara Grant, tackled this exercise by creating a proposal for a food-security plan for fisheries; while students on the second Lesley team, Rianne Elsadig, Najifa Tanjeem and Mecivir Tersoo-Ivase, proposed a renewable-energy policy to reduce fossil-fuel dependence and mitigate conflicts.

Led by Assistant Professor Nafisa Tanjeem, the seven Lesley students were among 350 students from 46 universities who competed in New Haven, Conn., on Oct. 13-14.

Students Lesley Ells and Tamara Grant deliver a presentation in front of a PowerPoint at the Yale Policy Competition
Students Lesley Ells and Tamara Grant proposed a food-security plan for fisheries.

“Overall, the Yale International Policy Competition was a valuable experience,” said Bodenmiller, a political science major.

"The competition was a deliberate step outside my comfort and it was worth it," added Tersoo-Ivase, who is majoring in biology and psychology. "The overall experience was rigorous and enriching." 

Both Lesley teams advanced to the second round of competition.

“Our Lesley teams did a great job,” said Dr. Tanjeem, who teaches global studies and women’s, gender and sexuality studies. “Our teams came up with two fascinating proposals and got great feedback from the judges.”

All of the participants were presented with the policy challenge – the South China Sea territorial dispute – during the opening ceremony of the two-day competition. They couldn’t research or prepare ahead of time. Rather, teams brainstormed and proposed possible policy solutions to different facets of the problem.

“Our students worked really hard, confidently presented their proposals and responded to the Q&A in both rounds,” said Tanjeem. “They made us proud.”

Lesley’s first team, which competed as part of their senior capstone for the global social change course, proposed a transnational UN-, ASEAN- and local government-led collaborative food security plan to ensure an environmentally-friendly fisheries supply that provided sustainable livelihoods in the South China Sea region.

Students Kolette Bodenmiller and Jacob Hicks stand in front of a blackboard at Yale and present during the policy competition
Students Kolette Bodenmiller and Jacob Hicks present during the Yale International Policy Competition.

“It is a great opportunity to apply theoretical frameworks of the classroom to real world conflicts,” reflected Bodenmiller. “I highly encourage other students to take part in the future.”

The second Lesley team, which participated independently of coursework at Lesley, proposed a renewable energy policy for China with a focus on reducing fossil-fuel dependency and mitigating conflicts in the South China Sea.

“This competition was very interesting, but challenging,” reflected Elsadig, a sociology major. “It was my first time being a part of this interaction and type of competition. It is definitely one for the books.”

Both teams plan to present their research projects at Lesley’s annual Community of Scholars conference in the spring, as well as at the Annual Social Sciences Division conference.

"It helped us learn how we can resolve international conflicts and ensure human rights with effective policy-planning and implementation in a collaborative way," reflected student Najifa Tanjeem, an environmental studies major. "To establish world peace, we hope that these initiatives for conflict resolution and ensuring human rights will not be limited to university-level symbolic representations, rather, it will pave a way for the world leaders towards further negotiation and implementation."

The Yale International Policy Competition (YIPC) is a new competition that gives undergraduates an opportunity to test their critical thinking, teamwork and policy writing skills.