To say the last two years have been transformational is near trite these days, but the impacts of the pandemic era cannot be understated. COVID-19 accelerated the threat of a declining public infrastructure, highlighting the need to rethink fundamental paradigms and processes embedded in our institutions. Beyond the global pandemic, the world is also in the midst of intensified geopolitical conflict, climate change, political polarization, and technological surveillance. As graduate students pursuing advanced study in domestic and international policy at Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs, we’ve been immensely privileged for the space to reflect on these events within our academic bubble, while also humbled by the gravity of real-world problems that lie ahead for us as policymakers aspiring to make change.
In a year marked by transition, the pieces featured in Volume 33 of the Journal of Public and International Affairs reflect the nuance of policy challenges with no immediate solutions. Drawing from diverse academic disciplines and research methodologies — from econometric analysis to field ethnography— our eight authors navigate the complexity of debates occurring today, ranging from the right to reproductive autonomy to inequitable outcomes within the domestic education system to food sovereignty. As technological advancements shift the conventional boundaries between nation-states, we are pushed to rethink the norms around digital evidence authentication and the role of the private sector in global vaccine distribution. Our authors also propose policy solutions to addressing the legacies of trauma in Northern Ireland, making the transition to renewable energy in Puerto Rico, and advancing LGBTQ+ rights in Latin America along the bumpy road to change.
These pieces would not be possible without the contributions and efforts of 41 student editors from 11 graduate schools who joined our first hybrid Reading Weekend. From the basement of Princeton’s Robertson Hall to Europe and the Caribbean, our editors diligently read over two million words, submitted 634 score cards, and diligently shared thoughtful and nuanced feedback. Our dedicated authors, meanwhile, worked with us patiently through multiple rounds of editing to arrive at the strongest possible articles. Thanks to you, we are able to put forward an excellent 33rd volume.
We would also like to thank Princeton University School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) and the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA) for their generous financial support, which make this publication possible. We are particularly grateful to Laura de Olden, SPIA’s Associate Director of Graduate Student Life and Diversity Initiatives; B. Rose Huber, Sarah Binder, and the SPIA Communications team for promoting our initiatives; and to the rest of the Graduate Program Office staff for their help in facilitating this project. We would be remiss if we did not also thank everyone who submitted their work to JPIA. It is their vision for equitable policy solutions to global issues that has made us proud to publish this Journal for the past 33 years.
Congratulations and best of luck to next year’s senior leadership team Allison Blauvelt, Ellen Swicord, and Auri Minaya. You’ve shown a strong dedication to the Journal’s legacy, as well as an ambitious vision for its future. We’re looking forward to seeing how JPIA will evolve in your capable hands. A big shout-out to Michelle Zhang, our digital editor, who took our publication Annotations to new heights. What started as a quasi-experiment is now a bi-monthly newsletter with a regular following that has sparked greater dialogue on important policy issues, thanks to your efforts!
As we tiptoe back into a world resembling some semblance of ‘normal’, we at the Journal are reminded that change never happens at any predictable speed. And while it can sometimes be slow, it certainly won’t happen without relentless advocacy, rigorous analysis, and unabashed hope.
To our readers, we hope this year’s issue makes you think and most importantly, leaves you with renewed energy for progress.
Lynne Guey & Francis Torrres, Editors-in-Chief
Lea Hunter, Managing Editor