Capstones Showcase Public Policy Seniors’ Work on Clean Energy, Racial Wealth Gap

TNC Coastal won Best Overall Project in Public Policy at the Spring 2022 Capstone Design Expo.

Posted April 29, 2022

Seniors in the School of Public Policy recently wrapped up a year of hands-on research by presenting their final Policy Task Force projects at Georgia Tech’s Spring 2022 Capstone Design Expo. One team, TNC Coastal, won the award for best overall project in public policy for their work with The Nature Conservancy at the April 26 event. The group consisted of students Archa Amin, Emily Chesser, Jack DellaPenna, Angelina Kim, Hanka Kirby, and Lisa Medford.

“Task force provides students with a chance to put their policymaking skills to the test while also teaching them how to engage with and meet clients’ demands,” said Professor Diana Hicks, instructor for the Policy Task Force courses (PUBP 4010 and 4020). “While many of the Capstone teams from across campus are bringing great technological solutions to the competition, our students are focused on the equally important task of finding new policy-based solutions for problems in our city and state."

Every public policy major must take the courses to graduate. At the start of the fall semester, in PUBP 4010, the class splits into five teams. Each pairs up with a nonprofit or community development group. The clients present students with a problem, and each team works throughout the year to analyze it, identify solutions, and present their findings to the stakeholders.

TNC Coastal was one of two groups to work with the Atlanta office of The Nature Conservancy, a global environmental group. TNC Coastal helped their client provide guidance to local groups seeking to protect their shorelines with natural barriers — such as plants, oysters, and dunes — as opposed to cement. The students had to make sure that all recommendations met local, state, and federal requirements, as well as that the groups could generate the appropriate funding. The other team working with The Nature Conservancy looked at which policies have the greatest potential for accelerating the clean energy transition in Georgia.

Other public policy Capstone teams partnered with Georgia-based organizations. One worked with the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation — which connects people with vision and hearing services — to examine the most important factors affecting the United States’ supply of audiologists, optometrists, and ophthalmologists. Another group teamed up with the Georgia Social Impact Collaborative, which works to strengthen Georgia’s social impact investing ecosystem. The students researched how ecosystem partners in pay-for-success programs have ensured they reached their social impact goals.

Another team examined which factors played the largest role in the persistence of the racial wealth gap in Atlanta. Working with Atlanta Emerging Markets, Inc. — an organization that works to stimulate economic development in Atlanta’s distressed neighborhoods — the students looked for ways that their client could help remedy the racial wealth gap.

“My team and I learned from each other and really pushed ourselves outside of our comfort zones in identifying conceptual approaches to a policy problem and communicating our results in an understandable and professional way,” said Amin, who built a diorama of coastlines for TNC Coastal’s presentation. “The discussions I’ve had with my group outside of class and with professors each Friday have allowed me to vividly portray the important aspects of our research.”

Learn more about previous task force projects.

Additional Image

Students created a diorama to showcase their solutions for nature-based coastline protection.

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Grace Wyner

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School of Public Policy | Sam Nunn School of International Affairs