Passion Project Clients: 2014-16

SPP's capstone program was called the "Passion Project" until 2016-17, when it was relaunched as the "Applied Policy Project." Previous Passion Projects have addressed a broad range of policy-relevant topics, working with a wide range of policy actors across sectors, and producing a variety of outputs.

SPP's Passion Project Clients for 2014-16 are:

Project: Raising Awareness and Mobilizing Action to Release Political Prisoners in Azerbaijan

Client: European Stability Initiative

In the summer of 2014, two brave Azerbaijani human rights defenders, Leyla Yunus and Rasul Jafarov, coordinated a group that produced a list of political prisoners in Azerbaijan, based on a definition of “political prisoners” that was adopted by the Council of Europe in 2012. Immediately thereafter, they were arrested themselves. They are now among the 98 political prisoners on this list who are currently detained in Azerbaijan. The Passion Project team will research, design, and implement a campaign to increase awareness of Azerbaijan’s political prisoners in order to create sufficient pressure for political action by EU and other international decision makers, and ultimately achieve the release of the prisoners.

Project: Upholding Refugee and Aslyum Seekers’ Rights in Greece

Client: Greek Forum of Refugees

Every year, tens of thousands of irregular migrants and asylum-seekers cross the Greek border in search of shelter, refuge, or just a better life within the European Union. Refugees and asylum-seekers in Greece are highly exposed to a range of human rights abuses, often facing major obstacles just to register their claims as well as prolonged detention in often poor or inhumane conditions. Greece’s progress towards establishing a fair and effective asylum system has been limited. In response, the Passion Project team seeks to identify cases of the non-implementation of laws and directives concerning refugee rights and entitlements in Greece in order to pressure decision makers toward fair and ethical treatment of refugees and migrants in accordance with the law.

Project: Curbing Ethnic Profiling and Discrimination by Police in the European Union

Client: Human Rights Watch

Ethnic profiling by police forces in the European Union is a serious and widespread problem, affecting minorities, such as Roma and citizens of immigrant origin, as well as documented and undocumented migrants. It is a damaging form of discrimination that is prohibited under international law and contrary to the EU’s commitment to non-discrimination and equality. The Passion Project team will conduct research, advocacy, and campaigning with the aim of curbing the practice by police of targeting minorities and migrants for unjustified stops and searches on the basis of their appearance. The team will aim to influence EU policy makers and broaden public debate on the issue.

Project: Drawing Lessons from 20 Years of Conflicts and Post-Conflict Transitions Worldwide

Client: International Crisis Group

International Crisis Group, the Brussels-based conflict prevention organization, has published over 1,200 reports and briefings on individual wars and post-conflict transitions around the world. Policymakers, Board members, donors, academics and others in its wide constituency have often urged it to draw broad conclusions and lessons-learned from this extraordinary body of work. The Passion Project will attempt this task by carefully analyzing Crisis Group reporting and related research on a representative group of conflicts and transitions across the globe. The work product will seek to identify areas in which approaches or assumptions may need to be reconsidered, as well as suggest implications for particular current issues and conflicts on which Crisis Group is engaged.

Project: Estimating Internally Displaced Populations to Improve Aid Delivery with New Analytics Software

Client: The Linkage Project

In the North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), ongoing armed conflict for over 15 years has resulted in the displacement of approximately 1 million people. Aid organizations continuously rely on population estimates in order to decide where and how to deliver humanitarian aid. The Passion Project team will apply newly developed analytics tools to analyze existing data on registrations and movements of internally displaced persons (IDPs). Students will also research and contribute policy recommendations regarding humanitarian aid to IDPs in North Kivu Province, focusing on how humanitarian organizations collect and interpret IDP data.

Project: Monitoring Violations in the Textile & Apparel Industry to Transform the Global Supply Chain

Client: Tau Investment Management

Recent catastrophes in textile factories in Bangladesh have highlighted the global garment industry's "race to the bottom" as suppliers cut corners to keep costs down – including unsafe workplaces, forced and child labor, and environmental degradation. To complement TAU's ambitious efforts to transform global supply chains, the Passion Project will seek to build a more comprehensive view of recently reported incidents of human rights violations, labor abuses and environmental damages that have occurred in the textile and apparel supply chain in frontier and emerging markets. The Passion Project team will also develop innovative visual tools to analyze and present information to increase awareness and transparency within the garment industry.​

Project: How Urban Mobility and Space Affect Youth Unemployment

Client: UN Habitat

Globally, urban youth are facing a major challenge in finding employment and sustaining livelihoods. In rapidly growing urban areas, segregated neighborhoods, congested roadways, and a lack of transport options have led to the social isolation of marginalized communities. The Passion Project team will explore whether physical inaccessibility of employment opportunities for youth populations contributes to unemployment, underemployment, and a decrease in their productive capacity. The team will synthesize literature linking commute difficulty with employment and livelihoods; develop and administer a set of online surveys for several urban sites to collect relevant data about youth, employment, and mobility; create accessibility maps for select cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America through GIS data on transportation infrastructure; perform analysis on survey and map data and report on conclusions.

Project: Preparedness to Prevent Atrocity Crimes in the Caucasus Region

Client: UN Office of the Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide & Responsibility to Protect

The Caucasus is one of the most linguistically diverse regions on Earth. The region is also multi-ethnic and multi-religious. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and subsequent independence of Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia, the Caucasus has been subject to rising tensions and violent conflict that has left the region divided and contested for more than 20 years. The Passion Project team will develop a study on the preparedness of relevant actors in the Caucasus region in the prevention of atrocity crimes (i.e. genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity). The study aims to identify specific recommendations on how the international community, and notably the United Nations, could further support the promotion of effective policies on the prevention of atrocity crimes in the Caucasus, both at the national and at the regional level. (The views expressed in the study will be those of the authors and may not reflect the views of the United Nations)

Project: Understanding Jobbik’s Popularity and Implications of Far-Right Political Movements in the Region

Client: Understanding Political Preferences – SPP Student Team

Far-right political movements, often through the form of ethnic nationalist parties, and their sentiments are a growing trend in many European countries. In Hungary, Jobbik’s presence and popularity have a wide-ranging political impact on Hungarian communities, as well as a social impact upon those marginalized groups attacked by Jobbik rhetoric and actions. “Understanding Political Preferences (UPP)” is a student-driven Passion Project. Drawing from a wide range of sources, the UPP project seeks to explore factors that contribute to Jobbik’s sustained popularity in Hungary. The project also seeks to understand the policy implications of Jobbik’s political success in Hungary, and potential applications to far-right political movements beyond Hungary.

Project: Engendering Policy in the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining Sector in Zimbabwe

Client: Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association

In Zimbabwe, women are disproportionately affected by the negative impacts of mining. However, the general lack of gender-responsiveness in the artisanal mining sector undermines women’s economic rights by hindering their effective participation in artisanal and small scale mining as a source of livelihood. The Passion Project team will advocate for making policy more gender responsive in order to help strengthen the Zimbabwean government’s efforts to reform policy on artisanal and small-scale mining. Students will conduct applied research and analysis to engender the ongoing policy discourse to decriminalize, regulate, and support small-scale and artisanal mining in Zimbabwe and address existing gender imbalances and constraining gender roles that hinder women’s participation in artisanal and small scale mining.