As a Civil Affairs Captain in the United States Army, Yano plans to use the data analytics he learns at Harris to reduce the risk of conflict in unstable regions.
Haz Yano, in front of a glacier
Haz Yano

“National security doesn’t begin at the commencement of hostilities,” says Haz Yano, Pearson Fellow and MPP Class of 2020 candidate, “It begins with the mitigation of political problems before they explode into violent conflict.”

For the past five years, Yano has served as a Civil Affairs officer in the United States Army, working with civic leaders to address gaps in local governance and reduce the risk of conflict in unstable regions.

In 2016, Yano served at the US Embassy in Bangladesh, facilitating the US Department of Defense’s development of Coastal Crisis Management Centers for the Bangladesh Coast Guard. During this time, he planned and conducted medical first responder seminars, training Bangladesh police in medical first aid.

Most recently, he served at the US Embassy in Nepal to coordinate joint exercises between the US and Nepali Armies, while also overseeing Civil Affairs Soldiers  involved in developmental projects. These activities helped to enhance the Nepali Government’s ability to react to natural disasters and crises.

When searching for methods to measure the effectiveness of these programs, Yano felt that part of his toolkit was missing.

That’s what led him to Harris.

“It is important to invest in data now: otherwise, 10 years down the road, we will have no clear way of knowing if these programs have been effective. In order to maximize the use of taxpayer money, we need to use data and statistical tools to evaluate programs effectively.”

At Harris, Yano not only saw the applications of the quantitative core classes in his political science electives, but gained hands-on experience in an internship with the United States Marshals Service, helping to revise and update standard operating procedures of the Northern District of Illinois Office. During the summer of 2019, Yano also worked as a Policy Research Assistant with the UChicago Crime and Education Labs, working on a randomized controlled trial to roll out a new training for the Chicago Police Department.

He was also involved as a Pearson Fellow. “It is fantastic to be part of a community of people who have been involved in mitigating conflict and development efforts around the world. I went on an immersion trip with Pearson Fellows to Jordan and the Global Forum in Berlin. During both trips, I met students who had worked in Civic Affairs in other areas of the world—that instant connection was great.”

“I have also had the opportunity to engage with public speakers. For example, last year, Ben Rhodes spoke in a closed-door session with Pearson Fellows. When I worked with UC3P to start a new podcast about Pearson called Root of Conflict, we featured speakers and faculty from Pearson. I recently had the opportunity to co-host an episode called “Future of Defense: Big Data and Cyber Warfare” with retired Colonel Liam Collins, who is the former director of the Modern War Institute and the Combatting Terrorism Center at West Point.”

This was a particularly meaningful experience for Yano: not only did he earn his undergraduate degree at West Point in comparative politics and foreign area studies, but after graduation he will be joining the West Point Social Sciences Department as a faculty member to teach American Politics.

There, he plans to emphasize the importance of data-driven conflict resolution to his undergrad cadets. “It’s inevitable that America will be involved in a lot of international decisions, and so it’s important that people are aware of the consequences of policies that are implemented. Whether it’s through teaching or planning projects in Civil Affairs, I hope to bring data to work in service of the American people.”