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Honors Students

Christine Cavallo

Cohort: 2017

While El Nino cycles demonstrate extreme weather events that fall out of the normal weather patterns, they may also serve as an example for environmental norms we will endure in the future. For this reason, the impacts they have on both international and domestic agreements and stability should be cautiously heeded. South Africa is one of the most water scarce nations in the world, and their dependence on external sources of water adds an interesting element to what is already a challenging question. Lesotho has an abundance of "white gold," as many of the regional river heads originate within their borders. The Lesotho Highlands Water Project serves as a massive international economic boost for Lesotho while also developing the infrastructure for 100% dependence on hydroelectric power. South Africa front most of the costs for construction of the dams and tunnels involved, and in return receives a consistent water source to their nearby provinces. But when Lesotho was hit by the 2015 drought, arguably even harder than South Africa was, many of Lesotho's population questioned why 40% of their water was still being diverted away from them. I want to look at how droughts impact international agreements such as the LHWP, and how we might see any relevant tensions or turmoil escalate in the future.

Karen Lee

Cohort: 2017

Thailand is one of the few countries in the world that has never been colonized by a Western power. It has also experienced more coups that any other country in the last century--eleven successful coups and seven attempted coups since the bloodless coup that ended the absolute monarchy in 1932. One would think that the lack of a colonial history means that Thailand is a unified country, but it has been plagued by ethnic conflict in its southern provinces since the 1950s and violence has intensified in the past decade. My research poses the question, "How has religious and cultural policy towards Thailand’s Deep South differed under elected versus military-led governments?". I plan to engage and analyze existing literature on the relationship between regime type and religious freedom, code Thailand's twenty constitutions from 1932 to the present based on whether or not they have contained clauses restricting the religious and cultural rights of the Muslim minority in the South, and conduct a case study of four civilian and military regimes in 21st century Thailand.

Yegina Whang

Cohort: 2017

The question of why states pursue nuclear weapons has been significant topic of study due to the escalation of tensions during the Cold War period and intense fear of proliferation in its aftermath. Most research in this field is extremely difficult to produce due to the small sample size of states with nuclear capabilities as well as a lack of information on countries’ nuclear programs. Academics have offered some possible explanations of the rationale behind leaders’ decisions to acquire weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), such as the security model, domestic politics model, and norms model. In my thesis, I will contribute to this existing literature by answering the more narrow question of why some states decide to sign, ratify, and then violate the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Why have only autocratic states broken the NPT? Does this apply to only the NPT or all international treaties? Through evidence provided by my analysis of large-n data sets and case studies of North Korea, South Korea, and Iran, I hypothesize that international isolation plays a key role in explaining a leader’s decision to cheat on the NPT. 

Kirsten Willer

Cohort: 2017

In the current world of nation-states, being is inherently a political action. Nation-states claim to act for the interests of their own people located within their territory, using their citizens as justification for the state's actions. How do states determine who belongs and has rights to the privileges of being citizen? In Africa, however, borders primarily remain in the arbitrary configuration drawn by colonial powers. What is the salience of citizenship when a group of people has somewhat randomly been brought into a state? What happens when states rescind the citizenship rights of ethnic minority groups? Under the direction of Dr. Jeremy Weinstein, My project investigates the outcomes of cases in sub-Saharan Africa where states have encroached upon the rights of ethnic minorities. I argue that these ethnic minority groups will react with violence to the state’s actions if they believe that citizenship is necessary to be a political and economic actor within the community.

I will answer this question through two different approaches. First, I will use a statistical approach to show a relationship between the severity of the state action that contests citizenship and the severity of the group’s response. I plan to code actions taken against ethnic groups that have been bisected by international borders and are minority groups in each country. Second, I will justify my hypothesis through examining the specific situations of the Banyarwanda in Zaire/DRC and Uganda, respectively. The Banyarwanda are an ethnolinguistic group in the Great Lakes region that have historically been regarded as Rwandan immigrants with an illegitimate claim to citizenship in Zaire and Uganda. Over time, both states have rescinded and even expelled the Banyarwanda, but the Banyarwanda do not always respond with violence to these events.

Rebecca Mehra

Cohort: 2016

In a world burdened by burgeoning populations and faced by declining water resources, water is likely to trigger conflict. Since the partition of British India in 1947, and the creation of modern republics of India and Pakistan, the two South Asian countries have been involved in four wars, including one undeclared war, as well as many border skirmishes and military stand-offs. In fact, during the Kargil War of 1999, the two nations came dangerously close to nuclear war. But for India and Pakistan, some disputes notwithstanding, the Indus water treaty is considered one of the world’s most successful trans-boundary water accords, as it addresses specific water allocation issues and provides unique design requirements for run-of-the-river dams, which ensure the steady flow of water and guarantee hydroelectricity. The agreement also provides a mechanism for consultation and arbitration should questions, disagreements, or disputes arise. So despite India and Pakistan being two of the greatest adversaries in the world, the two nations have had a comprehensive water treaty, the Indus Water Treaty, active for over 50 years. Why have these two countries been steadfast in their efforts to share water in a time in which water issues are likely to trigger conflict? Why do India and Pakistan cooperate on this front? The primary goal of my thesis is to present an accurate theory as to why India and Pakistan cooperate over the issue of water by analyzing various theses on how and why adversaries cooperate, and how water could be a potential outlier.

 

Thesis:

Mehra, Renbecca (2016). Connecting the Drops: The Negotiation of the Indus Water Treaty.
Stanford Digital Repository. Available HERE

Simone Nelsen

Cohort: 2016

The focus of my honors thesis is the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games and a retrospective look at how the Russian government used the Games as a platform upon which to propagate their political, economic and social agenda. In exploring the Russian use of the Sochi Games, I plan to compare it to the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games and the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, as these three case studies reflect similar regime types and relationships towards media. I plan to explore the connection between the Olympics and the crucial times, economically and politically, during which these countries bid for and hosted the Games, and the relationship between the Games and the hosts’ deployment of new or existing political, economic and social policies.

 

Thesis:

Nelsen, Simone (2016). Hosting: The Choice of Authoritarian States to Bid for the Olympic Games & the Impact on Their Governments.
Stanford Digital Repository. Available HERE

Hope Sheils

Cohort: 2016

The borders drawn in the Middle East following the First World War have continued to be a source of contention and violence for almost a century. Many argue that the borders drawn do not accurately reflect thousands of years of history and peoples in the region.
In my honors thesis in International Relations, I want to explore these divisions of ethnic identity by state boundaries. Specifically, I want to explore how these boundaries have affected the divided communities, and the communities with which they interact. Studies of the relationship between ethnic diversity and intrastate violence have been done, to be sure, but I believe that an in-depth analysis what these identities mean for both the groups themselves and the states into which they have been placed by history can give us a greater understanding of how, or why, or whether, violence occurs.
I mean to do a case study of occurrences of violence between ethnic groups to evaluate the claim that a different drawing of state lines would make the region more peaceful.

 

Thesis:

Sheils, Hope (2016). The Lines We Draw: Nationalism and Border Creation at Sèvres and Lausanne.
Stanford Digital Repository. Available HERE

Megan Donahoe

Cohort: 2015

My project explores ideas of empire in the Soviet Union. I am going through Soviet newspapers and propaganda to see if in times of conflict, specifically in former imperial territories or spheres of influence, whether or not the media references historical boundaries or any allusions to its imperial history in the region. By better understanding how the Soviet Union grappled with its imperial past I hope my research can be important historical context when understanding the current Russian Federation's neo-imperialist actions in Crimea and Ukraine.

 

Thesis:

Donahoe, Megan (2015). The Rhetoric of Suppression: Soviet Media Analysis of Eastern European Interventionism.
Stanford Digital Repository. Available HERE

Sanjana Parikh

Cohort: 2015

My thesis focuses on how the demographic makeup of a country affects its preferences on international climate change agreements. By examining population factors such as youth, education, urbanization, and vulnerability, I will identify demographic indicators that could predict whether a country is more or less likely to accede to global accords restricting carbon emissions. Global warming represents one of the most serious collective action problems of our time, and I hope to better understand how the size, structure, and distribution of populations leads to the formation of public opinion that influences global policy commitments.

 

Thesis:

Parikh, Sanjana. (2015). Constitutional Promises and Environmental Protection. 
Stanford Digital Repository. Available HERE

Nicolas Shump

Cohort: 2015

I am looking at a small number of guestworker programs, including Bracero for the United States, Gastarbeiter for Germany, and the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program for Canada, to see whether this type of immigration policy effectively meets its goals. My main focuses for that measurement will be illegal immigration flows from the "sending" countries formally involved in the programs, economic well-being for "host" country citizens doing the same jobs as the guestworkers, and economic benefits for the "sending" countries. By looking at these cases, I hope to get an understanding of whether a guestworker program can actually be a viable immigration policy.

 

Thesis:

Shump, Nicolas. (2015). Guest Worker Programs and Immigration.
Stanford Digital Repository. Available HERE

Natalya Thakur

Cohort: 2015

My thesis seeks to explore the question: how do non-profit organizations that seek to make social change, through user investment in physical and human capital, affect the socio-economic status of their target audience?

My theory is, if a non-profit has a higher level of user investment, which includes investing in physical and human capital, the target audience (recipients) will obtain a healthier and elevated socioeconomic status. In addition to physical capital, which provides monetary and material resource support, investing in human capital is key to helping achieve skillsets that help raise an individual’s socioeconomic status. Without the addition of human capital investments, physical capital has a temporary longevity and does not usually provide sustainability of economic opportunities. When investments in human skills are made in conjunction with physical resources, the chances of steep economic development are increased because the skills can be transferred and replicated by many people over time, without any sort of expiration date. Understandably there are structural issues with the economic progress of developing countries, however skills within business or leadership, for example, can lead to better sources of income, better educational opportunities, better health, and a better lifestyle. I will be exploring my theory through a literature review, case studies of different non-profits, interviews with target audience members, and an ethics section.

 

Thesis:

Thakur, Natalya. (2015). Charity Work Abroad and the Unintended Democratic Deficit
Stanford Digital Repository. Available HERE

Natasha Weaser

Cohort: 2015

My thesis will explore one of most important but least understood bilateral relationships of the 21st century: China and Saudi Arabia. While oil is undoubtedly the key driver of the relationship, the frequency and high-level nature of Sino-Saudi Arabia state visits since 2006 prompts the question of whether a partnership traditionally defined by energy is now one with a strategic-political dimension. By combining statistical analysis, current literature, and interviews across academia, business and government, I hope to construct a more nuanced picture of the relationship and assess its implications on international relations.

 

Thesis:

Weaser, Natasha. (2015). Evolution of the Sino-Saudi Relationship: Oil Partnership or Geopolitical Alliance?
Stanford Digital Repository. Available HERE

Harry Doshay

Cohort: 2014

My honors thesis attempts to explore why certain regions in pre-Modern China contributed greater numbers of individuals to the bureaucracy.  By examining the origins of high level graduates of the civil service examination system, I hope to uncover how certain regions rose to prominence within the Chinese bureaucracy.  In better understanding how the Chinese bureaucracy selected its officials, my thesis looks to help understand how autocracies create and use their bureaucracies to create stability.

Amanda McFarlane

Cohort: 2014

My thesis evaluates the political movement to change Jamaica’s official language from English to English and Patois. This movement involves language politics that were shaped during British occupation but continue to dictate prejudices against speaking Patois because of its association with poor, African slaves. However, language attitudes on the island have begun to evolve as people begin to publicly speak Patois, irrespective of their social class. These changing customs fuel the official language change debate in the country. My research inquires about the interest groups propelling the debate from 2000 to 2013 and triangulates three sets of data to analyze the movement’s progression. I am evaluating interviews I conducted over the summer in Kingston, using the program R to analyze the results of a language survey administered by the University of the West Indies, and conducting an in-text coded analysis of published newspaper articles discussing the issue. Jamaica’s situation is valuable to understand because it signals the political deficiencies that result from conflicting languages between the government and its people. The debate targets this issue, as factions fervently propose various solutions to this predicament.

Nina Papachristou

Cohort: 2014

Laws and administrative bureaucracies like that of the U.S. asylum system must apply across broad groups, yet they are experienced in an individually specific way. I study the bureaucracy of the asylum system and what explains the difference between the formal rules of the asylum application process and the individual experience of applicants. I argue that the bureaucracy's institutionalized rules and processes undermine the goal of protecting asylum seekers, and that an asylum applicant who works with lawyers from a community-based service provider will have a speedier, more efficient and less traumatic application process. My data includes large-N data from the federal government and UNHCR on yearly trends among asylum seekers, and qualitative interviews with West African asylum applicants and their pro bono lawyers in New York City. My thesis attempts to humanize the law by looking at complex rules and explaining the motivations behind them, and the bureaucrats who implement them -- and how they can do better to protect vulnerable asylum seekers.

Claudia Thieme

Cohort: 2014

Policymakers bemoan the tax planning strategies of large tech giants such as Google and Apple.  As we evolve towards an increasingly digital economy, with a rise of firms that are heavy in intangible assets, multinational firms can more easily shift income to low tax jurisdictions.  Business and politics have evolved at an asymmetric pace. Our new commercial reality sees corporations as increasingly stateless entities, causing the nation-state to lag behind in its capacity to enforce the rules to govern a global economy.  In light of this timely policy issue, I explore this phenomenon by identifying what factors allow multinational firms to pay lower effective taxes.  I research whether capital intensity, extent of foreign operations, political influence, and size of the firm allow firms to better avoid taxes.  As the US faces a national debt of over $12 trillion, this issue has become increasingly pressing and reflects the need for reform in the obsolete US tax code.

Andrea Sarahi Zaldumbide

Cohort: 2014

As U.S. policymakers confront an ever-evolving international landscape and face pressing foreign policy decisions, what lessons can they draw from U.S. foreign relations history? Specifically, what can Cold War history elucidate about influences on policy? My honors thesis focuses on U.S. interventionist policies in Latin America during the Cold War. Throughout this period in American history, presidential administrations authorized covert intervention policies aimed at toppling Latin American governments. Declassified government documents show that policymakers cited the threat of Soviet involvement in Latin America as the reason for intervention, but the question is whether this threat was real or perceived. My thesis aims to assess the influence of ideas about Soviet threat in Latin America compared to facts about Soviet-Latin America relations. I argue that an ideology of perceived Soviet threat developed as a result of the Cold War, existed in the circles of policy elites, and prompted presidential administrations to adopt similar policies against three Latin American
governments: Guatemala in 1954, Cuba from 1960-1962, and Chile in 1973. My research intends to contribute to the understanding of the causes behind
U.S. behavior toward Latin America during the Cold War. Moreover, it seeks to present a case for how one factor, the idea of Soviet threat, caused American policymakers to consider covert intervention as vital to the safety of the United States.

Arielle Humphries

Cohort: 2013

My honors thesis examines the question: to what extent do international courts contribute to post-conflict justice for women? This project began with an interest in the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina from 1992 to 1995 in which an estimated 20,000 women were raped as part of an ethnic cleansing campaign. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has made many important advances in the prosecution of crimes of sexual violence during this conflict, but the small number of convictions raises the question of whether the international tribunal is a largely symbolic gesture. My research will thus examine the extent to which international courts do contribute to justice for women through a case-study comparison amongst post-conflict situations in which mass rape occurred since 1990.

Aharon Kaslow

Cohort: 2013

Indigenous communities appear to face challenges when integrating themselves into contemporary global economies. This is puzzling as they often share characteristics that are attractive to foreign direct investment (FDI): one of three primary international economic activities - the other two being import/exports and licensing. Typical characteristics of indigenous communities include competitively priced labor and access to natural resources and primary goods. With these qualities that are attractive to FDI, the goal of my research is to uncover the primary reason why foreign capital seems to pass over investment opportunities in indigenous communities. Hopefully, these findings will clarify both how indigenous communities should plan their economic development as well as the nuances of FDI.

Elizabeth Knudson

Cohort: 2013

My thesis explores the question of what the determinants of varying levels of national identification in Africa are. I am using three paired case studies-- Zambia and Malawi, Mali and Burkina Faso, and Tanzania and Uganda-- as well as quantitative regression analysis to look at historical, nation building, and development factors that might explain current divergences.

Hannah Lewis

Cohort: 2013

My honors thesis explores various factors that contribute to trust and business success in interactions between Westerners and their Chinese business counterparts. My research stems from my surprise that Chinese-Western business transactions are mostly done in English and that while there is an emphasis on following Chinese business norms, there does not seem to be a strong incentive to learn Mandarin for business success. My question is whether or not speaking Mandarin is an important factor of trust in Chinese-Western business deals. I plan to answer this question with three original empirical contributions: a survey distributed in Beijing, interviews conducted in Beijing and interviews conducted in San Francisco. First, I distributed thirty surveys to Chinese businessmen and women, asking about their interactions with a Western counterpart in order to analyze how trust is correlated with the Westerner's Mandarin proficiency. Second, I interviewed around seventeen businessmen and women in Beijing and asked them about their experiences working with Westerners. Finally, I will interview a smaller number of San Francisco businessmen interacting with Chinese counterparts in order to assess how English proficiency affects trust from the American perspective.

Jordan Nicole Limoges

Cohort: 2013

 I am interested in the question of Muslim integration in Europe as an intersection of politics, religion, and multiculturalism in society. More specifically, my research focuses on the cultural integration of immigrants from the former Yugoslavia in Paris, France; what is the impact of French policy in encouraging, or discouraging, their integration, and how the experiences of Yugoslavian Christian and Muslim immigrants compare to immigrants of other nationalities and religions throughout Europe? I hope to answer these questions using a combination of interview and quantitative statistical data.

Michael Peddycoart

Cohort: 2013

The “Arab Spring” has failed to live up to its name, as evidenced by the continued revolutionary fervor and uncertainty within the Middle East and North Africa.  Dictatorial republics like those in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia have gone by the wayside and the ongoing violence in Syria demonstrates continued opposition to the era of pseudo-democracy within the region.  However, despite the political protests sweeping the region, Arab Muslim monarchies have survived the revolutionary chopping block, though not without internal political restructuring and dialogue with local opposition.  Furthermore, even kings in constitutional monarchies without the benefit of vast petroleum reserves have managed, for the time being, to retain their positions of executive power. My study examines the political strategies these constitutional monarchs implement to forestall regime-changing revolutions.

Lilian Rogers

Cohort: 2013

China's media system is one of the most repressive in the world. However, in recent years there has been an increase in somewhat independent media that is able to conduct investigative reports. Caixin Media, located in Beijing, is one such example. Caixin has broken several high-profile stories, many of which have reflected poorly on China's ruling regime. Despite its critical reporting, Caixin still exists today and while it may sometimes be rebuked it has not been shut down. My thesis will explore the possible explanations behind Caixin's success through a combination of on-site interviews and empirical analyses and hopefully shed light on the broader question of the emergence of independent media in countries with authoritarian governments.

Rachel Rosenberg

Cohort: 2013

With the emergence of indigenous rights movements in Latin America, collective cultural rights have arisen as the third generation of the human rights movement. However, some argue that human rights are a zero-sum game, where possibly promotion of collective rights contradicts promotion of basic individual human rights.  The purpose of my study is to challenge this notion and to analyze the complex vulnerability of minorities within autonomous indigenous regions.  With a focus on religious divisions and conflict, the question that arises is: Why does intra-communal violence break out and escalate in some communities and not others?  In a cross-regional study, this paper focuses on the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca, Mexico and considers a number of factors that fuel ethno-religious violence.

Carolyn Simmons

Cohort: 2013

Teaching at a children's shelter in Argentina, I became interested in the effect that globalization has on national investment in education. Does international economic integration constrain the choices that policy-makers make, and have policy-makers subsequently responded by increasing investment in human capital? With the generous support of Stanford's UAR, I traveled to Brazil, Argentina, and Chile to interview national decision-makers concerning federal spending priorities. Back on Stanford campus, I am conducting honors research on how changing economic structures have altered national education spending levels within the Latin American region. I look forward to analyzing whether globalization pressures policy-makers to enhance their competitiveness in this global economy.