a capstone experience

Instead of turning in a master’s thesis before graduation, SIPA students work on a capstone project and turn in an action plan for a client.  Projects vary in scope and depth.

Mariana Iturriaga Cossio shares her capstone experience before she collects her diploma on Wednesday.

During this semester (my last one at SIPA!), I worked on my capstone project “Energy Investment in Criteria in Fragile Emerging States – The Case of Libya”. Libya has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa but during the 2011 revolution oil production suffered a near-total disruption. Although production began to recover by fall of that same year, the future of the Libyan oil sector is highly dependent on the country’s security and political stability. Thus, the project’s objective was to assess the security and political risk conditions under which Libya can attract new investment in the oil sector. Our client was Afren Plc, an independent oil exploration and production company, with a portfolio extending into 12 countries, most of them in Africa.

My team was composed of six other second-year SIPA students from the International Security Policy (ISP) and Energy and Environment (EE) concentrations. Everyone was super committed and had valuable contributions throughout the project. For most of the semester, we met twice per week: on Mondays with our faculty advisor –Professor Adam L. Shrier  – and on Thursdays by ourselves to discuss our findings and next steps. Over the course of four months we conducted desk research with telephonic interviews, which were held both on and off the record with experts in energy issues, Libyan politics, finance and security.  You can read our full report here http://issuu.com/calc-sipa/docs/case_of_libya/1

Mariana I capstone cover image

After an intense semester, and spending more than seven hours per week in my capstone project, I am really happy and proud with the result. We delivered concrete results and findings on one of the most challenging but at the same time promising oil regions in the world. Personally, the capstone turned out to be a great opportunity to combine the two areas that I am most interested in – international security and oil markets – from a more professional and practical perspective.