Watch for frequent updates!

Yale 62

A Report on the YAA 2021 Assembly

By Peter Sipple, YAA Delegate, John Stewart, Sec’y.

The 2021 YAA (until recently known as the AYA, but the name change clarifying the fact that all Yale grads are automatically members without needing to sign up) annual meeting was held over three days par Zoom beginning November 4. Yale always puts its very impressive best foot forward, beginning with this year with a conversation between President Salovey and John Kerry, coming on the heels of the Glasgow climate conference, also on the heels of our most recent class coffee hour on the same topic, brilliantly led by Gary Richardson and featuring impressive, cogent contributions from Ed Strohbein and Bill Reilly. Here is a sampling of the really stimulating webinars that we attended.

Joint Degrees Making an Impact: A conversation with Yale Deans

Dean of Arts and Sciences, the brilliant Tamara Gendler presided. The discussion revolved mostly around contributions to climate control. Indy Burke of Ecology, Kerwin Charles of SOM, Sten Vermund of Public Health, and Greg Sterling of the Divinity School comprised the panel. Each of these and other graduate schools offer a large range of double degree possibilities. Points included: a double degree offers a level of credential that merely taking a wider range of courses in other schools does not. Clearly, a broader range of studies better equips graduates to operate in today’s complicated world. Dual degrees worked on at the same time shortens the time commitment. For example, unlike any other business school, SOM offers opportunities in a variety of specialized domain experience outside the standard curriculum, including the kinds of specialized language in varying fields. The Div School plays a central role in cross disciplines in palliative care and chaplaincies, overlapping with public health, as well as encounters with ethical issues. Each Dean mentioned outstanding examples of grads. One of my favorite remarks was Dean Charles mentioning that SOM students graduated with a certain humility in knowing that there was more to know. Dean Sterling pointed out that our school exists not for the faculty, staff, and students but “to make a difference in the world.”


The vision for the Yale Jackson School of Global Affairs.

This session was led by the Director of the Jackson Institute, James Levinsohn.  This department, specializing in scholarship and research relating to global affairs, enrolls both undergrads and graduate students.  Its mission is “to inspire and prepare Yale students for global leadership and service.”  In Sept. of 2022, the Institute will transition into the Jackson School of Global Affairs, the newest of Yale’s autonomous schools.  Building on the success of the Institute, Levinsohn described the vision for the new school.  For example, new additional faculty are being sought—perhaps the greatest challenge because of the competitive environment in which searches take place: the top people can find work anywhere in the world.  In ten or twelve years, Levinsohn predicts, top scholars working on the most pressing global issues will include graduates of the Jackson School, though it’s likely they will not always find themselves on the same side of the table.  The session went on to describe how a department offering an undergraduate major and master’s degree will become a full-fledged arm of the University.


Tobin Center for Economic Policy: Strengthening Families, Communities, and the Nation.

Led by the Director of the Tobin Center, David Wilkinson, and Professor Steven Berry, this session described the mission and goals of the Center and cited examples of work recently undertaken. Using data-oriented social science, the Center’s raison d’être is to influence policy for the betterment of society and the world.  Its research is data-driven and non-partisan; it “marshals evidence” with the intention of “shortening the time between research and impact.”   Its data are typically “blended” from various sources.  Examples of the Center’s work included the morass of spending on U.S. health care where the Center’s staff used data to identify separate variables, breaking down the network into more manageable parts where cost savings can be more easily grasped by policy-makers.  Another study looked at data emerging from nursing homes where illness and death from Covid were high; it tracked the patterns of contagion from one to another and increased our understanding of how transmission can occur.  A third studied issues of poverty and inequality as they influence early childhood development.   The Tobin Center coordinates with and draws on the research of faculty from Yale’s other schools, particularly Schools of the Environment, Law, and Medicine.


Navigating Careers and Life: Mentorship Best Practices

I don’t know how many classmates have responded to the call to serve as mentors to current students, grad and undergrad. If you are at all interested, Yale has set up a web site called Cross Campus and I recommend you have a look, and decide to sign up. In doing so you invite the possibility of mentees of contacting you. The discussion included both mentors and mentees, mostly but not entirely in a science field. But the kinds of relationships are varied, as would be depth and duration. It could include career advice, how to negotiate Yale, or life, or stuff from your own lives. Some appeared to take on the nature of friendship, some culminated after one contact.

It will be a little while until the videos from that event are posted, but you can check in about a week to see if the “2021-22 Assembly & Convocation Highlights” are up.


We welcome your comments.