Graduate Research

Our students conduct amazing research projects over the course of their program, often drawing from their direct observations during our international travel courses. The summaries below highlight the final research papers presented by our graduating students at the public capstone symposiums.

Avesta Baraki

Female Empowerment and Security in the Middle East

Feminist theory posits that women play an important role in bringing about peace in postconflict societies. Several studies have found that the systematic and representative inclusion of women in conflict resolution processes significantly increase the chances of sustainable peace. However, women contribution to peace processes are often underemphasized or ignored in conflict management research and praxis. Excluding women from actively participating in a society is key to instability while women empowerment and gender equality are keys to a more peaceful and stable society. Utilizing a statistical analysis of the effect of women empowerment (as measured by level of women education and employment) on battlefield deaths and homicide, this paper provides an empirical assessment of the relationship between women empowerment and the level of conflict and violence in society

Ivan Caro

Immigration, Group Conflict, and the Return of the Far Right in Germany

Despite having only been founded in 2013, the right-wing party Alternative for Germany (AfD) has accrued significant electoral support over the last several years, particularly in the eastern states of Germany that were formerly the German Democratic Republic (GDR). This paper seeks to study the factors that bolster AfD support in the East versus the West. First, it studies multiple socioeconomic factors with AfD performance in order to discern the general demographics of AfD voters. Secondly, it attempts to test the validity of intergroup contact theory as an explanatory model for the discrepancy in right wing support between East and West Germany by observing the percentage of foreigners among Germany’s districts and their voting behavior during the 2017 federal election and recent state elections in 2019 and 2019.

George Gibbs

The Lords of the Sands: The Obstacles to Restoring Political Order in Libya

Failed states are defined as, ‘deeply conflicted… by warring factions,’ where, ‘official authorities… face…insurgencies.’ (Rotberg 2011). In 2011 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) decided to intervene in Libya to avoid a humanitarian disaster. This resulted in the fall of a dictator (Colonel Muammar Qaddafi) and a change in regime. Ultimately the Libyan state was transformed over the next three years and things took a turn for the worst. In 2014 the civil war had begun; Libya was now a failed state. There are many domestic factors that have contributed towards the instability within Libyan politics, one being the insecurity that now plagues the state.  The insecurity allows for there to be the perfect breeding ground for insurgencies in the form of mass fragmentation with armed militias and extremist groups prompting further insecurity creating a disaster cycle. There are many obstacles that have now formed a maze around the Libyan government, and still today it seems unlikely to finding its way out.  This paper identifies and explores four main obstacles: NATO’s mission and consequences, independent international interference, Libyan historical legacies and geography.

Claude Jubran

The Path to Inmate Radicalization: A Primary Focus on Inmate Converts to Islam

Religious radicalization and its potential path toward violent extremism is a major security threat, both nationally and internationally. The radicalization of inmates in prisons throughout the world has created challenges for prison administrators and national security agencies. This paper examines the underlying factors that contribute to inmate radicalization in the United States and will focus on converts to Islam within correctional institutions. Although Muslims are not predisposed to radical ideology, certain forms of prison Islam promote radical views. Islam in prison has been taught by employee and volunteer chaplains, and inmates that have limited knowledge of the faith. This has allowed mutating forms of Islam in prison to spread without scrutiny from prison management or moderate religious scholars. The complexity of confinement creates motivators for needs that individuals may not have explored outside of prison. This paper will discuss some of the causal links associated with loss of freedom and its correlation with adopting grievances that subsequently morph into radical ideology. A qualitative review of prison chaplaincy programs allows us to understand whether or not there is a disconnect between what inmates need and what is offered in terms of appropriate non-violent faith education. This paper aims to offer possible solutions to reducing the potential for radicalization in prisons.

Rita Kuckertz

Forced Confessions: Evaluating Mexico’s Torture Epidemic through the Lens of Judicial Reform

This study examines various factors associated with the use of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment (CIDT) by security personnel in Mexico. Grounded in Anaya-Muñoz’s interpretation of agency theory, this analysis uses two separate government data sets on reports of torture and CIDT by security officials to compares the incidence of the practice with various indicators relating to state capacity and state willingness to comply with human rights obligations (2019). Capacity variables include several indices and data sets measuring corruption, the implementation of Mexico’s New Criminal Justice System (Nuevo Sistema de Justicia Penal, NSJP), public confidence in the NSJP, public prosecutor capacity, violence, and national security budgets. Indicators measuring state willingness include engagement with the international human rights regime, reliance on illegal detention, and military involvement in policing operations. The author hypothesizes that indicators in both categories will be associated with increased reports of torture and CIDT, and finds strong statistical evidence to support these claims.

Lucy LaRosa

The Tip of the Iceberg: Understanding US Arctic Security Posture

Since the Cold War, the United States has largely undervalued the strategic value of Arctic region and limited its institutional participation to environmental and scientific sectors. However, with warming temperatures, opening maritime routes and untapped economic opportunity, the Arctic region continues to gain geopolitical prominence on the international security agenda. U.S. competitors, such as Russia and China, have taken assertive measures to increase their presence and investment in the Arctic region. This study will analyze the security implications of Arctic thaw and provide a theoretical explanation as to why the United States has not pursued a more consistent, security-forward posture in the Arctic. Using documentation of U.S. official statements on Arctic security, international agreements, academic and political literature, budgetary data on Arctic defense readiness and survey data on U.S. Arctic norms and understanding, the research study finds evidence to support the claim that U.S. public consciousness of the Arctic is particularly limited. As such, the evidence supports the theory of constructivism and its value of the role of social norms and discourse in international relations. Overall, the analysis will provide better understanding of the strategic role of Arctic region, the impacts of social understanding on U.S. Arctic posture and provide foundation for U.S. Arctic security recommendations.

Devin Moss

Bend it Like FIFA: Transnational Regulation of State Action

The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) serves as the internationally-recognized governing body of football. The organization posits its dominion to deliver sanctions for issues related to government interference and non-compliance with other FIFA Statutes, including discrimination. However, little research has been conducted to determine to what extent FIFA’s attempts to regulate state action are successful and effective. This paper seeks to help fill in that gap. First, it analyzes available data of FIFA sanctions and threats of suspension from 2004-2019. It then investigates three case studies; Israel, Iran, and China to evaluate the extent to which FIFA’s autonomy in issuing transnational regulation is valid and to determine the explanatory power of liberalism theory. In doing so, this research seeks to answer if FIFA is effective in regulating state action and to what extent FIFA’s regulatory power supports liberalism theory’s conception of international organizations serving as a constraint on state action.

Morgan Whitmer

JIHADIS AT THE GATE: Policies on Returning Foreign Fighters and their Impact on International Security

Since the territorial and monetary decline of the Islamic State, foreign fighters from an array of countries have begun to seek repatriation by their host nations. Approximately 30,000 of the Islamic State’s foreign fighters have survived the conflict, many of whom have been detained in Syria or Iraq. Recently, the relevance of this topic has increased considerably. The U.S. withdrawal from Syria left the Kurdish forces in Northern Syria vulnerable to a Turkish invasion and exacerbated security concerns regarding the detainment centers hosting Islamic State fighters and their families. Policy makers and governments have and will continue to face challenges while reintegrating returned foreign fighters back to their host nations. Given that the Islamic State is pervasive across international borders, this is a global concern that requires efficient and appropriate responses. The question is, what policies are in place, if any, that reduce the likelihood of attacks or use of violence from returning foreign fighters? While a universal approach across state actors may not be conceivable, this paper analyzes the international response to the phenomenon in terms of prevention, de-radicalization procedures and responses from law enforcement personnel to returnees. Furthermore, this research provides actionable recommendations for future policy implementation and counterterrorism procedures in response to the threat of returning foreign fighters.

Cesar Andalon

Smart Sanctions or Silly Statecraft? The Efficacy of Targeted Sanctions

Sanctions are a common tool of economic statecraft that policy makers utilize for a variety of purposes including promoting democracy, human rights, and curtailing belligerent behavior. While much of the existing literature on sanctions have emphasizes the value in inflicting the maximum amount of economic pain on the target state in order to force acquiescence, this has the potential to lead to significant humanitarian costs on the target state’s civilian population. The policy makers’ solution to these negative externalities has been targeted or “smart” sanctions. These are sanctions that are specifically tailored to target a narrow group within the target state’s ruling elite or a specific sector of the target’s economy. The logic being that economic pressure placed on those in authority can both make altering the target state’s behavior more effective, and also, mitigate the potential for collateral damage associated with comprehensive sanctions. Smart sanctions represent an avenue of sanction literature that has yet to be fully explored, and therefore, this paper analyzes the conditions under which smart sanctions are most effective utilizing the Threats and Imposed Economic Sanctions Database (TIES).

Maximilian Aviles

Transitional Justice: A Case for Accountability

Transitional Justice Mechanisms (TJMs) seek to help some of the world’s most vulnerable states make an effective transition to democracy and help increase the respect for human rights for the people living in those states. Despite the hopes for TJMs, many academics continue to question whether TJMs are actually effective, and if they are effective, then which types of TJMs work best? This paper seeks to fill an important gap in the literature by quantitatively assessing the impact of TJMs on a country’s level of democracy and respect for human rights. The results presented in this paper do, in general, lend support to the claim that TJMs are likely to help increase a country’s level of democracy and its respect for human rights. Specifically, this paper finds that justice mechanisms such as tribunals are likely to have more of a positive impact than truth mechanisms such as a truth commission. These results are in no way intended to be the final say on this topic, but rather they should serve as call for increased debate by policymakers and as a leaping off point for further research about the use of TJMs.

Garrett Gaughan

All Dried Up: Averting the Day Zero Water Crisis through Tax Reform

Day Zero. Tomorrow, you wake up and turn on your sink. Nothing comes out. Instead, you trudge miles to line up with four million other people to get your small, daily ration of water. You boil some to save for drinking water—the rest you save for hygiene and sanitation. You are forced to stand in a small plastic tub and manually scoop up cold water and pour it over yourself to bathe, but then take that same water and use it to wash dishes, water your plants, or any of the thousands of other small tasks we take for granted every day.1
For millions of the world’s poorest individuals, this is life, but not for the people of Cape Town, South Africa2--at least not until 2015, when a drought forced the metropolis to face the reality of Day Zero, the day when the city’s water supply would simply run out.3 After three years of living under extreme water rationing to avoid Day Zero, an intense rainy season saved the city and postponed the crisis, allowing the population to return to some semblance of normalcy.4

Catherine Pauley

Propensity for Peace in Divided Societies

This paper examines the propensity for peaceful resolutions in situations of ethnic or identity-based conflict. In particular, this paper seeks to examine why some ethnicity and identity-driven conflicts have the ability to reach peaceful agreements, while others remain unresolved. This paper examines two identity-based conflicts within Europe, one that has successfully reached a solution, and one where a solution remains elusive. I argue that Northern Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement were a success because high levels of paramilitary violence without the presence of an international peacekeeping force motivated decision-makers to find a solution, while Cyprus remains in the lurch due to the notion of a “comfortable conflict” as the conflict remains largely peaceful due to the presence of UN peacekeeping forces.

Ryan Williams

Headed for the Exits: An Empirical Assessment of the Key Factors Driving Honduran Emigration

With the surge in Central American families and unaccompanied children arriving at the United States’ southern border, there has been renewed interest and debate about why people are leaving the region in such great numbers. Despite the increased attention being paid to this phenomenon, there is a disconnect in the literature about what is driving individuals to leave their homes. While some researchers point to clear economic underpinnings of the mass emigration, others claim that the majority of people are fleeing violence and insecurity. By analyzing survey data from Honduras, I measure the relationship between economic and security factors and the individual decision to emigrate. My analysis reveals that in the aggregate, Hondurans are more likely to express an intention to emigrate due to insecurity than they are as a result of economic distress.

Jiangyun Yang

Analyzing the Effects of International Tourism on Soft Power

Soft power is a state’s ability to get others to do what it wants them to do by the force of attraction and persuasion, which is different with hard power, relying on coercion or punishment. One of the key opponents of building soft power is positive communication between people. Therefore, many scholars rightly think cross-border tourism, which carries billions of times of people communication, as a useful approach to build soft power. However, there are very few empirical researches about the effects of international tourism on soft power, which is the focus of this paper. Through panel data regression analysis, the author found out receiving tourists helps build soft power in destination countries, which also could receive strongly negative effects due to the high expenditures of each tourist. However, sending people traveling abroad may produce negative national images of origin countries. This paper suggests that for building soft power by tourism, policymakers should focus on building their countries' charm to attract visitors. Appropriate official sponsors and cooperation in controlling tourists’ expenditures are possibly helpful too. But the official involvement can also produce negative effects due to people’s natural antipathy towards governments.

Rania Ammsso

Autocratic Regimes and Ethnic Minorities in the Middle East

The focus of this research aims to examine authoritarian regime durability in the Middle East and North Africa region during and after the Arab uprisings. How do some authoritarian regimes, such as monarchies and republics, withstand social challenges such as the Arab uprisings? Ammsso argues that monarchies, such as the Jordanian and Moroccan monarchy, are economically, politically, and socially benefit from strong support from minority communities that receive special protections from monarchies that are often not found in other autocratic governments. The paper examines available secondary source data surveying the attitudes toward monarchies and republics, controlling or different socioeconomic, religious, and ethnic groups.

Daphne Blanchard

Immigration and National Security: Is Central American Migration a Threat?

This capstone research seeks to understand the extent to which Central American immigration has an impact on violent crime in the United States. Through the compilation of qualitative and quantitative statistics, this paper examines the recent surge of immigrants from the Northern Triangle of Central America (NTCA), their concentration of settlement in U.S. cities, and the violent crime rates of several of these cities, in an effort to determine a linkage of the two variables. Despite previous attempts of social scientists to debunk the perceived threat of immigration, anti-immigrant rhetoric continues from the highest level and debates over national security and human rights cause tension as Central Americans seek asylum at the U.S.-Mexican border. In addition, increasing polarization of views on the topic inhibits progress on a comprehensive immigration reform. Not only does this research add to the understanding of the potential threat of of these particular migrants to American communities, its findings can be generalized to the overall public debate of the nature of immigration and national security.

Andrea Diaz

Understanding the Outcome of the 2018 Mexican Elections

The purpose of this research paper is to provide understanding of the 2018 Mexican elections. After 71 years of the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) being in power and 12 of the PAN (National Action Party), Mexican voters shifted their support behind the MORENA (National Regeneration Movement) party. This paper examines the role of socio-economic factors, social media and other factors that contributed to the success of MORENA and its presidential candidate, Andres Manuel López Obrador.

Iden Emam

Resource Curse or Institutional Curse?

Do rentier states become more driven towards totalitarianism? By definition, rentier states derive the majority of their income from rents placed on their local resources which are often exported. These types of states tend to be more autocratic. These states are also accused of falling into the ‘resource curse,’ or the severe mismanagement of their wealth and degradation of other industries. The literature surrounding the ‘Resource Curse’ suggests that rentier states tend to erode democratic institutions and are more likely to succumb to authoritarian regimes. However, in this paper, I partially reject this and assert that it is not the rents collected on the resource which cause these authoritarian tendencies. I argue that it is the strength of the state’s institutions prior to the resource discovery that are the primary determinant of falling into the ‘resource curse.’ I analyze factors that measure the strength of a country’s institutions prior to the discovery of the resource such as colonial history, strength of constitution and World Bank Indicators. I use these to construct a simple regression model which suggest that these factors have a better predictive capability for authoritarian states than the discovery of natural resources such as oil.

Tyler Gulliksen

Theoretical Perspectives on the Tunisian Revolution

The purpose of this research paper is to provide a better understanding behind the conditions and factors that influenced the Tunisian Revolution in 2011. Many experts believed that Tunisia represented a relatively stable political and economic society that for the previous decade made improvements in GDP gains, UN and international development objectives, and increased education rates among citizens. However, the country deemed by many experts as the most stable country in North Africa, quickly spiraled into revolution that eventually spread into various regions of North Africa and the Middle East. The objective of this paper is to identify the causal factors associated with the Tunisian revolution, determine if experts misunderstood or misrepresented Tunisia’s stability, and determine if any relevant revolutionary theory can describe the phenomena that caused revolution to occur. Gulliksen utilizes qualitative data and descriptive statistics to look at various economic, political, and social factors that drove the revolution in Tunisia.

Robert Knecht

Russian Interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

This research paper demonstrates the effect that Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election had on its outcome. It binds the qualitative historical narrative of Russia and its President, Vladimir Putin, existing in struggle to regain lost prestige and co-equal superpower status with quantitative empirical evidence provided through opinion polling on 2016 U.S. Presidential Candidate preference and Federal Election Commission national, state, and local election results. In conjunction with the infiltration to government information systems and exfiltration of information, including now well-known sensitive e-mails from within the Democratic National Committee, Russia turned principally to social media as a propaganda platform to influence popular U.S. opinion. Companies, including Facebook and Google, have provided information relating to the number, type, and reach of profiles, advertisements, groups, and trends. Russia was successful in influencing the election and, left unchecked, will continue to seek to manipulate U.S. politics in the future.

Neal Soladay

Right of Passage: Climate Change and the Northern Straits

On the polarized subject of climate change, no one denies that the polar ice caps are observably receding. One result of melting pack ice is an Arctic region that is increasingly accessible to merchant traffic and resource exploration than ever before. Superficially, the opening geography may look like a windfall to U.S. commerce and petroleum, but Russia and Canada are now making legal and material postures that will test American resolve. The United States is not a current signatory to the third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), but it still upholds UNCLOS III in practice. This paper demonstrates that U.S. interests historically aligned with this international framework when violators were adversaries. But once an ally, like Canada, becomes a violator, or if the United States finds necessity in its own violation, the model of conditional U.S. enforcement of UNCLOS III may fall apart. Thus, Soladay examines the implications of the changing political climate of the Arctic region and what it means for a possible U.S. endorsement of UNCLOS III.

DJ Stewart

US Military Intervention in Post-Arab Spring North Africa and Middle East

This paper asserts that the US militarily intervenes in the North Africa and Middle East region primarily in response to growing terrorist activities since the Arab Spring of 2011, not in response to an increasing risk of human rights violations or decreasing levels of democracy. Stewart presents specific case studies and legal analysis to provide a more holistic understanding of the shift in U.S. foreign policy priorities in the region. Statistical results and qualitative empirical analysis presented in the paper provides policy makers and scholars with a clearer understanding of US military intervention priorities in North Africa and the Middle East.

Rosario Sutton

The Politics of Indigenous Representation: The Case of the Maori

This paper examines the role that legislative representation plays in the lives of Maori people in New Zealand, and how the relationship of the Maori has evolved since the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. Sutten pays special attention to issues of inclusion and representation while at the same time examining the challenges that have afflicted the indigenous community. Through comparisons of the circumstances of indigenous people in other countries, this paper seeks to determine whether New Zealand offers a ‘model’ of indigenous participation.

Kelly Wehle

Into the Gray Zone: U.S.-China Tensions in the South China Sea

In September 30, 2018, a Chinese Luyang-class destroyer nearly collided with a U.S. destroyer conducting a freedom of navigation operation in the contested Spratly Islands in the South China Sea before the U.S. vessel altered course to avoid collision. The contested islands have been the source of numerous disputes in the region amongst neighboring states. As Beijing rises as a global power, Washington and allies need to pay attention to these gray zone interactions. This paper explores China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea as a foundation for discussing historical cases of gray zone conflict. It seeks to demonstrate the correlation between U.S. and China’s foreign policies and how they relate to gray zone incidents, global financial crisis, and Power Transition Theory. The author makes recommendations on how the U.S. should effectively be wielding their power in concert with allied nations—it is important now more than ever to create and implement policy that can be used to effectively counter China’s tactics.

Joseph Burns

The Estonian Town of Narva: On the Western Side of an Eastern River

Moscow’s support for loosely defined Russian compatriots throughout the world has been used as pretext for hybrid warfare campaigns in Georgia and Ukraine. These interventions supported Russia’s broader strategic interest in stopping NATO expansion. Positioned on the Russian frontier, the Baltic state of Estonia has a history of animus with Russia and lacks a ratified border treaty. Disaffected Russian compatriots in Estonia, particularly in the border town of Narva, offer Moscow the opportunity to weaken NATO if Russia can cleave Narva from Estonia without provoking a military response from its NATO allies. Seeking to avoid the choice between war and abandoning Article 5, Western leaders have pursued an array of regulatory, infrastructure, rhetorical, political, and military measures to shore up security in the Baltics. However, these efforts to avoid the dilemma are not an adequate substitute for the political resolve to face down Russian revanchist efforts, militarily if necessary.
“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.”
NATO Article 5: Common Defense

Andrew Coldrick

Contrasting Motives, Comparable Rationales: A Constructivist Examination of Haredi and Palestinian Dis/Engagement in the Israel Defense Forces

Within the highly volatile and politically contentious region of Israel/Palestine, renowned the world over for its protracted, seemingly endless conflict between Arab and Jewish residents, there exists a lesser known, but perhaps none less quarrelsome, societal fault line entirely internecine in scope, exclusively encompassing different factions of Jews. Extant as an extremely devout and culturally insular community within Israeli society, the Haredim, or ‘ultra-Orthodox’ Jews, comprising some eight percent of the total populace according to the Pew Research Center in 2015, , are noted for their shunning of much of the modern world in favor of total immersion in traditional religiosity, rejecting engagement with mainline societal institutions, most controversially the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) 1. This arrangement, brokered soon after Israel’s founding in 1948 by founding father David Ben-Gurion as a means of ensuring a convenient political coalition, has engendered substantive controversy in the nation ever since, with many Israelis protesting the seeming inequity of a large swathe of the populace shirking otherwise mandated national service whilst continuing to reap the benefits of citizenship, most notably through state welfare benefits2. Purposely forgoing the assimilative, ‘melting pot’ environment of national service over both fears of a loss of identity, as well as ideological and theological opposition to the existence of the nation-state writ large, the Haredi community exist as stark outliers in a nation whereby staunch patriotism formulated through cooperative securitization is the de rigueur norm, and in the eyes of many Israelis only inculcation of this community into the Zionist fold will serve to alleviate hostilities. Coexistent to this challenging phenomenon, there exists the seemingly inexplicable trend of Palestinian Arabs, currently living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank, voluntarily joining the IDF, albeit in relatively miniscule numbers, and actively serving the military apparatus of the state that the near-entirety of the rest of their community visualizes as an oppressive and illegitimate occupying force3. The ironic similarity between these two seemingly dissimilar communities, both radically defying group consensus by engaging in the opposite activity as each other, beggars a more involved analysis, principally through application of a theoretical lens considering the intrinsic role of identity in shaping this decision-making process. Utilizing a constructivist plane of thought, and by meticulously combing through available research on these two groups, this paper hopes to gain a better understanding of this contrasting, yet interwoven trend and aims to realize that which could potentially influence future policy-making on some of the most persistent controversies which plague the region.

Junglyul Lee

Successful Negotiation and Failed Negotiation:Zopa in the Nuclear Negotiations With Iran and North Korea

Despite almost identical measures taken by the United States and the international community for a denuclearization of North Korea and Iran, why are the outcomes of such measures quite contrary? The purpose of this study is to answer to this question by investigating and comparing how the zone of possible agreement (ZOPA) had changed through the negotiations and what factors have influenced that change with a theoretical framework of Robert Putnam’s two-level game theory. The result of this study shows that the size of ZOPA in Iranian nuclear negotiation maximized by the time of conclusion of JCPOA while the size of ZOPA in North Korea nuclear negotiation had maximized when the Agreed Framework was struck and then shrank to none with US adoption of isolation and containment policies against North Korea. I argue that the contrary outcomes resulted from the different political-economic systems and ideologies of the two countries. I also argue that engagement and diplomatic approach are as much important as external factors surrounding a negotiation to have a state to change its problematic behavior.


Laura Y. Calderón

An Analysis of Mayoral Assassinations in Mexico, 2002-2017

In recent years, Mexico has seen elevated violence years with over 200,000 people murdered since 2006 and more than 18,000 homicides in 2017 alone (“México, a punto de romper todos los récords de asesinatos en 2017,” 2017). One special characteristic of this violence is the increased number of targeted killings against local authorities, perhaps most noticeably mayors, former mayors, and mayoral candidates, group has been killed since 2004 (Justice in Mexico, 2017). This paper examines the problem of violence targeting mayors, former mayors, and mayoral candidates in order to provide a better understanding of the new violence wave the country is experiencing.

Steven Cummings

Leading the Charge: Renewable​ ​Energies,​ ​Climate​ ​Security,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​US​ ​Military

Climate​ ​security​ ​exists​ ​as​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​greatest​ ​challenges​ ​to​ ​humanity​ ​in​ ​the​ ​21st​ ​century. Profound​ ​environmental​ ​shifts​ ​in​ ​the​ ​oceans,​ ​atmosphere​ ​and​ ​polar​ ​regions​ ​create​ ​hazards​ ​with​ ​a high​ ​potential​ ​to​ ​threaten​ ​long-term​ ​stability​ ​in​ ​the​ ​United​ ​States​ ​and​ ​the​ ​world​ ​at​ ​large. Developments​ ​in​ ​the​ ​field​ ​of​ ​renewable​ ​energy​ ​form​ ​a​ ​significant​ ​part​ ​of​ ​the​ ​possible​ ​solutions​ ​to mitigate​ ​and​ ​reverse​ ​these​ ​effects.​ ​New​ ​and​ ​improved​ ​technologies​ ​for​ ​harnessing​ ​renewable energy​ ​resources​ ​make​ ​up​ ​one​ ​aspect​ ​of​ ​this​ ​field,​ ​but​ ​other​ ​factors​ ​such​ ​as​ ​economic​ ​strength, geographical​ ​feasibility,​ ​and​ ​political​ ​decision​ ​making​ ​power​ ​comprise​ ​other​ ​salient​ ​elements. The​ ​United​ ​States​ ​military​ ​occupies​ ​a​ ​unique​ ​position​ ​in​ ​this​ ​context,​ ​having​ ​both​ ​significant economic​ ​resources​ ​and​ ​plentiful​ ​and​ ​diverse​ ​geographic​ ​locations.​ ​The​ ​military’s​ ​imperative task​ ​of​ ​resilience​ ​against​ ​security​ ​threats​ ​of​ ​all​ ​kinds​ ​also​ ​compels​ ​a​ ​response​ ​to​ ​issues​ ​of​ ​climate security.​ ​​ ​The​ ​research​ ​herein​ ​investigates​ ​the​ ​progress​ ​in​ ​development​ ​and​ ​methods​ ​of application​ ​of​ ​renewable​ ​energy​ ​technologies​ ​at​ ​US​ ​military​ ​bases​ ​in​ ​order​ ​to​ ​deliver​ ​greater understanding​ ​of​ ​best​ ​practices​ ​and​ ​procedures​ ​in​ ​the​ ​global​ ​fight​ ​for​ ​climate​ ​security​ ​solutions.

Kurt Kirkman

Shifting Power in the DPRK-U.S. Asymmetrical ‘Crisis’

This paper addresses the question of what has changed in the DPRK-U.S. asymmetric relationship that has made the once ancillary foreign policy priority of North Korea, now currently one of the most urgent and problematic issues for U.S. leadership?

Essma N. Eweida

The Premature Democratization of the Middle East and North Africa

The triumph of democratic governance is not due to their electoral feature where citizens have a voice in choosing their leaders. Instead democratic regimes are praised due to the liberal nature behind the electoral scene. This research focuses on democracy development in the Middle East and North Africa and analyzes why the region is not a fertile ground for democracy, despite the successful overthrew of dictators during the Arab Spring. The setback has been due to a neglect of the institutions within a state that constitute the foundation of the liberal order and instead, the attention has been on holding elections. In an attempt to assess how liberal institutions within each country score, the author uses quantitative data developed by internationally recognized organizations. The second part of data collection considers Tunisia and Saudi Arabia for an in-depth analysis. Demonstrating weak liberal institutions necessitates a shift in democracy promoting programs to build liberal order first and hold elections second.

Abdulrhman Alkhuziem

The Saudi-Iranian Power Struggle and Its Effect on Yemen

This paper aims to analyze the Saudi-Iranian diplomatic relations and its effect on the stability of the Middle East. Since 2011, the two countries started to intensify their competition in gaining primacy in the Middle East by increasing their influence in weaker states in the region. The two countries involvement in the new Middle Eastern proxy war have a direct effect on the ongoing conflicts and worsened situation in many countries in the region. Moreover, the two countries increased the use of sectarian conflicts which created an additional obstacle in solving the region’s issues. This paper will be studying the connections of the worsening diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran in connection to the increasing instability in some Middle Eastern countries, by analyzing the two countries engagement and support for opposite actors in specific weaker states in the region as a case study.

Braden Harris

The Beginning of a Post-Kemalist Era for Turkish Politics?

Turkish national identity is incredibly unique, multi-faceted, and at times seemingly paradoxical. What’s more, that identity has been in a state of flux over the past few decades, as a resurgent current of Islamist populism has risen to challenge the foundational secular and ‘modernist’ tenets the state was founded on. Drawing heavily from the literature on social identity and collective memory, this paper traces the historical development of Atatürk’s nation-building ideology—Kemalism—and the near century-long hold it had over Turkish politics. It then sets out to demonstrate Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s attempts to reshape Turkish nationalism, beginning a “post-Kemalist” era and discusses what implications that might have on the country’s foreign and domestic relations.

Marcia Harrison

Building an International Anti-Trafficking Regime

Based on academic and independent research, reports from active anti-trafficking organizations, and official government reports, human trafficking is a crisis that is surpassing arms and drug trafficking due to the high demand and the potential to obtain repeat profits. Proponents fighting against human trafficking include prominent organizations such the United Nations and the United States Department of State. This paper examines the international legal and policy regime that has emerged to prevent, combat, and punish human trafficking. For international law, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) created the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its two related protocols: The United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and the United Nations Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea, and Air, which entered force in 2003-2004. Regional mechanisms include: The United States Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (2000), the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (2008), and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Right and Fundamental Freedoms (1950). Other advocates working domestically and internationally through agencies and organizations claim that human trafficking is a modern form of slavery. The difference these advocates identify with historical slavery is that it was mandated by law whereas today, slavery is not legal anywhere in the world. Critics of this perspective claim that there is not a clear definition between trafficking and prostitution (which is legal in many countries such as Brazil, New Zealand, Germany, United Kingdom and in the state of Nevada in the United States). Critics also want further evidence that sex trafficking is an epidemic in comparison to labor trafficking.

Erica Illingworth

Violence in El Salvador: The Effects of Gangs and Anti-Gang Legislation

This paper will examine the prison system in El Salvador and how that has affected gang growth which has contributed to the increased violence in the country. It will argue that structure of the Salvadorian prison system and the policies put forth by the government and through the foreign aid it has received, has aggravated the problem. This has global implications which comes in the forms of threats to the United Sates and surrounding countries. The three major threats is that the increase in gang membership will contribute to illicit transnational networks, including the drug trade and human trafficking. The second threat is an increase in violence in El Salvador and the countries surrounding it. The increase in violence is a result of the illicit transnational networks, in which the surrounding countries and the U.S. are tied to will suffer. The last threat comes in the form of illegal migration. The increase in violence affects the daily lives of people in El Salvador and the surrounding countries. This will cause people to flee their homes in search of a better life. This paper will close with policy recommendations that will help fix the gang problem in El Salvador.

Dongil Kim

Understanding the Security Paradigm on the 38th Parallel

The division of the Korean Peninsula was not merely the result of the conflict between South and North Korea. It was heavily influenced by the Cold War, so the reunification should be discussed among South Korea, North Korea, and neighboring countries of the Korean Peninsula. Among them, the United States had played the most important role in the security environment of North East Asia by the Mutual Defense Agreements with South Korea and Japan. However, under the slogan of “America First Foreign Policy,” the new Trump administration implied the change of previous U.S. foreign policies, for example, Strategic Patience against North Korea. In a point of the South Korean Government, the shift of U.S. Foreign policy is the most important factor for its unification policy. Therefore, this paper will examine the role of U.S. Foreign policy on the Korean Peninsula, the expected direction and effect of U.S. Foreign policy.

Noemi Ochoa-Luna

Testing the Economic Kuznets Curve: Mexico after 20 years of NAFTA

The Kuznets curve hypothesis postulates economic that economic development leads to a decrease in inequality, which leads the new and growing middle class begins to demand better environmental policies. This hypothesis is based mainly on the assumptions of a traditional economy where development will lead to higher wages. In order to test this hypothesis, I looked at the case of Mexico, which followed a path similar to other developing nations by liberalizing its economy in the late 20th century. Mexico’s experience over the last few decades seem to contradict the assumptions of the Kuznets hypothesis, given that there are many ongoing environmental problems in the country.  Specifically, this paper will examine the effects of economic development in northern Mexican states along the U.S.-Mexican border region, with attention to wages (adjusted for inflation and purchasing power) to determine if the expected positive results of the Kuznets curve hypothesis can be detected with regard to curbing inequality of strengthening the middle class in one of Mexico’s most economically prosperous regions.   I pay special attention to the quality of air and water and its effect on the health of the maquiladora workers in the northern states in Mexico, who suffer from many of the worst environmental consequences of development in Mexico. This research provides valuable information regarding the role of trade, growth, and environmental damage and human health. My findings illustrate that the predictors of the Kuznets curve hypothesis fall short in the Mexican case, and I offer some analysis of the possible reasons for this outcome.

Ray Taves

Bolivia’s Resource Nationalism/Neosocialism: Growth and Success

Much of Bolivia’s history has consisted of turbulent political infighting consisting of over 200 coups and countercoups. When democratic rules were finally established in 1982, Bolivian leaders faced critical problems such as endemic poverty, illicit drug production and mass social unrest due in large part to neoliberal government policies. By the mid-1980s, Bolivia’s neoliberal government began pursuing policies such as privatization, closure of marginal industries, promoting direct investment by transnational corporations and rearranging the Bolivian state in accordance with neoliberal economic strategies. Immediately after assuming office as Bolivia’s first indigenous president, Evo Morales followed through with one of his key election promises when he nationalized Bolivia’s huge natural gas reserves and thus met a historic demand of the Bolivian people to take Bolivia’s resources out of the hands of transnational corporations. Morales began instituting democratic socialism (neosocialism) reforms to deal with Bolivia’s decades long endemic poverty and chronic unemployment. This study examines the Morales administration’s governmental tactics to determine if Bolivia’s rejection of neoliberalism and adoption of neosocialism was beneficial and/or detrimental to the masses. There is extensive literature which will be used in my examination, analysis and critique of Bolivia’s venture into neosocialism.

Cheri Baloun

The Perfect Storm: Explaining the Rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

Al Qaeda changed the terrorism game with aspirations of a global jihad. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania, al Qaeda rose to the top of America’s threat list. After the invasion of Iraq, al Qaeda responded by expanding their influence and the organization we now know as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was born. ISIS quickly became an insurgency, establishing a caliphate and capturing key cities in northern Iraq and Syria. The withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq left the Iraqi government weak and unable to support or protect their people. The civil war in Syria also facilitated the spread of ISIS into Syria. ISIS has become the strongest and richest terrorist organization. They have managed to recruit globally, especially foreign fighters, showcasing the effectiveness of their technological capabilities and skills. The purpose of this paper is to analyze and explain the factors that led to the rise of ISIS. (Resources: Annotated BibliographyPresentation).

Colby Branch

Central American Energy Integration

Throughout the late twentieth century, Central America grappled with military governments, debt, revolutionary movements, civil war, extreme inequality, and authoritarianism, all in the ‘backyard’ of the United States. Following the rise of democracy in in 1990s, and the rise of globalization in the early 21st century, Central America is at a crossroad in development. Facing extreme violence, corruption, poverty, and emigration, Central America has chosen to integrate their energy sectors and fight these common enemies that preclude many underdeveloped countries around the world from achieving economic prosperity—together. After signing a framework treaty in 196 and successfully ratifying it by 1998, Central America began construction on an above-ground electricity transmission line (SIEPAC), spanning 1,800km from Guatemala in the north to Panama in the south. Created as a result of the infrastructural projects, and under the framework treaty, is a seventh supranatural regional market (MER) that connects each country’s existing market to one another. The regional market is designed to increase access to electricity (coverage), increase electricity security (independence) through the growth of diverse renewable electricity generators, and decrease consumer electricity prices by increase supply through an attractive foreign investment market. MER because fully-functional in 2013, following the construction of SIEPAC in Costa Rica, the last country to connect the interconnection line. (Resources: Annotated Bibliography; Presentation).

Kaitlin Girton

Looting the Past to Destroy the Future

In 2015 the world’s attention turned to ancient stones in the middle of the desert. The desert was in Syria, and the stones was Palmyra – an ancient city which commonly found itself at the bordering different civilizations. This time it found itself as the target of the newest. This paper examines the unique change in armed conflict in the regions of the Middle East and North Africa. These conflicts are not just about war but instead a form of cultural war by attacking cultural heritage through iconoclastic destruction and systematic looting. It is the greatest resurgence of cultural heritage attacks since WWII and the factors are because of a central breakdown of authority and the rise and presence of extremist groups who use this interconnected age of the internet for their global audience. (Resources: Annotated BibliographyPresentation).

Igor Harris

Misinformation Disorder: Assessing Russia’s Soft Power Potential

In 2012, President V. Putin accused western media of employing soft power to distort Russia’s image in the international arena. He declared that it was time for Russia to fight back by using similar tactics. Thusly, the concept of Russian soft power was established. Soft power in international relations, as advanced by Harvard Professor Joseph Nye, is the ability of a state to shape preferences of other states by means of appeal and attraction. The problem is that the Kremlin’s definition of soft power is reduced to a strict amalgamation of government crafted public diplomacy and a heavy dose of USSR style propaganda. All other variables that make a country attractive to the international community and increase soft power potential are simply omitted. The intent of this paper is to analyze the Kremlin’s interpretation of soft power and examine how it utilizes this concept to influence American and Western European policy toward Russia while simultaneously increasing public opinion of Russia within western democracies. (Resources: Annotated Bibliography; Presentation).

Capt. Jessamyn Jempson

Belgium’s Returning Foreign Fighters: How European State Declarative Strategies Influence Domestic Terror Incidents  [Award for Outstanding Paper]

According to The Soufan Group – a strategic security consulting and research organization – as of December 2015 between 27,000 and 31,000 people from at least 86 countries travelled to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamic State or other extremist groups. Given the probability that the Syrian conflict is unlikely to cease any time soon, the question of foreign fighter prevention and reintegration will remain extant for years to come. In Europe, the majority of fighters originate from just four countries: France, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Belgium. Experts estimate that roughly 30% of foreign fighters will attempt returning to their country of origin and that 11% of returnees pose a security threat. My research examines available quantitative and qualitative data on the topic of returning foreign fighters in order to evaluate the relationship between eight Western European states’ declarative strategies and the frequency of domestic terror attacks between 2010 and 2015. In addition to the aforementioned countries, Denmark, the Netherlands, Austria, and Sweden are included to provide a well-rounded assessment of regional practices. This study contributes to the growing dialogue concerning returning foreign fighters by making policy recommendations for the prevention of future domestic terror incidents through the implementation of a comprehensive reintegration strategy specifically as they apply to Belgium. (Resources: Annotated BibliographyPresentation).

Irina Kalmykova

Strategies for Maximizing State Participation in International Environmental Agreements

The environment is the essential underpinning of all human societies and their economic activities. Societies are dependent on their environment to provide clean air to breathe, safe water to drink, and healthy food to eat. Humans depend on healthy, productive ecosystems and their regulating natural cycles for sustenance and disease prevention, recreation, education, and mental and physical enrichment. Economies, meanwhile, rely on natural and human resources to produce marketable goods and services. However, humans are collectively exploiting the Earth’s resources to an extent that its systems cannot neutralize the adverse effects on the environment. The cumulative effect of human activities on the global environment have only become apparent in the last few decades. These threats to the Earth have led scientists and policymakers to work collaboratively to confront global challenges. The result has been an ever-increasing number of international environmental agreements (IEAs). Even though they enjoy widespread popularity as a means for addressing global environmental challenges, there is little evidence that these IEAs are successful in achieving the improvements sought. Much literature has been devoted to the analysis of why IEAs, despite extensive support for their underlying purposes, are not more effective in achieving their goals. (Resources: Annotated BibliographyPresentation).

Perla Mora

Refugees Welcome?: An International Imbalance of Refugee Support in the Developing World

According to The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) there are currently 65.3 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. This statistic represents the highest level of displaced people ever recorded and one of the worst humanitarian crises in human history. In 2015, the global refugee crisis generated mass media coverage and international attention when thousands of Syrian refugees risked their lives crossing the Mediterranean in makeshift rafts in order to reach Europe. A record number of 1.2 million first time asylees were registered by the European Union that year. Arguably, the generosity of countries like Germany who by the end of 2015 had admitted over 1 million refugees and asylum seekers has contributed to the belief that Western and industrialized nations are doing more than enough in support of refugees worldwide. However, this is a grave misconception. Currently, developing nations host over 86% of the world’s refugees and have on average historically admitted more refugees than any other Western-industrialized nation for the time period 1960-2015. In this paper, I provide a comparative analysis of historical refugee trends in order to identify the reasons why the developing world has supported a disproportionate share of refugees and what problems does this rise. Furthermore, based on my findings I will provide recommendations regarding what needs to be improved on an international scale in order to better address the humanitarian needs of refugees worldwide. (Resources: Annotated Bibliography; Presentation).

Michael Bruno

Hezbollah and the Crime-Terror Nexus

In recent years, the Lebanon-based and Iranian-backed international terrorist group Hezbollah has become involved in global crime. This paper will investigate the conditions Hezbollah needed to transcend their previous Shiite-militant based stronghold in the Middle East to create cooperative relationships with Mexican and South American criminal cartels (among Hezbollah’s worldwide criminal activities). I argue Hezbollah’s path to combine crime, drugs, and terror was deliberate; and the convergence between these variables is observable. Two hypotheses are tested to substantiate Hezbollah’s crime-terror nexus trend. Future international terrorist organizations, not just Hezbollah, may take a similar course-of-action to guarantee their survival, influence, and execution of terrorist attacks.

Dan Gray

On a Mission from God: Do Religious Insurgents Have a Special Advantage?

Insurgencies are historically predisposed to fail. There are, however, some characteristics that can increase the likelihood of their success. The presence of these characteristics does not ensure an insurgency’s success, but one or more must be present for an insurgency to succeed. The four requisite characteristics are 1) Will/determination 2) Local support 3) External assistance 4) Flexible strategic and tactical organization. Given a perceived rise in religiously based insurgencies, this paper examines religion’s role in outcomes. By quantitatively analyzing 106 insurgencies, it is determined that religion does not have a noteworthy impact on an insurgency’s outcome. This paper then focuses on the probable outcome of the ongoing Islamic State (IS) insurgency. The IS has some degree of each characteristic for a successful insurgency, but appears to be slowly declining in all four categories. Continuing along its current trajectory, all indicators suggest that IS will not have a successful outcome. In order to hasten the decline of IS, this paper provides policy recommendations to serve as the starting point for future operations.

Andrew Helige

Foreign Investment and Societal Violence in Latin America

Latin America is the most dangerous continent in the world outside a war zone. Drug trafficking has intensified and contributed to an increase in violence caused by organized crime groups vying for control. Violence does not only negatively affect social order and security but there are also economic implications that can reduce a country’s business appeal to attract foreign investment. Although it would be assumed societal violence would lessen foreign investment due to perceived risks, Latin America continues to attract billions in foreign investment. This paper uses lag regression and correlation models to determine the impact societal violence has on inward FDI to the Latin American region. This paper then delves into five industries that violence would impact in Honduras, Mexico, and Chile. This paper determined that at the regional level, violence in not a strong determinant affecting FDI. Violence will, however, affect the distribution of inward FDI across industries.

Ann Cathrin-Howard

Back to the Roots: The Revival of Nationalism in Europe

In 2015, the pictures of hundreds of thousands of people migrating from the Middle East, Africa, and Asia to Europe went around the world. Ever since, the tsunami of refugees and migrants has been called the European refugee and migrant crisis. The continent has not experienced a comparable wave of migration since the aftermath of World War II. At first, the newcomers were welcomed with open arms. However, the welcoming culture of the summer months slowed down in a matter of weeks and has since turned into a culture of rejection. All over Europe, nationalist protesters went on the streets demonstrating against the overwhelming influx of migrants and refugees. From Hungary to Germany and from Greece to Sweden, right-wing protesters and parties have stormed the mainstream of European politics with voters rebelling against years of predominantly socialist rule. Not since the 1930s has nationalism enjoyed comparable political influence and traction in Europe. What exactly has caused the surge of so-called right-wing parties in Europe? This paper seeks to answer this question by examining the drivers and contributing factors of the revival of nationalism in contemporary Europe focusing on the influence of the immigrant population, the unemployment rate, the European Union disapproval rate, and the Muslim population.

Maynard Malixi

Dollar Diplomacy When Do Sanctions Work?

Economic sanctions are widely believed to be effective no greater than thirty percent of the time. So how can we increase this rate of effectiveness? Under what conditions are economic sanctions most likely to be effective? There is an abundant literature discussing exactly these questions. Authors hone in on different variables asking, for example, whether unilateral or multilateral sanctions are more effective against target states. Bapat et al. provide an important analysis of several variables, but I take issue with the method they use to analyze the importance of an issue or “High Issue Saliency.” In this paper I reexamine the variable of saliency from the perspective of the target rather than the coercer state. I seek to explain the difference in High Issue Saliency between the results of Bapat et al. and the dissimilar results from the literature. More specifically, I argue that it is not only the saliency of the issue that is important but rather the saliency of the issue to the target state that is most relevant. I expect to find that the more the target state fears for its existence, the lower the probability of success of economic sanctions.

Zachary Mellon

From Terrorism to Legitimacy? Lessons from Turkey’s Kurdish Problem

The purpose of this article is to analyze the relationship between the Turkish government and its Kurdish citizens in order to better understand the armed struggle that has taken place since 1984 which has claimed over 40,000 lives. In order to do so, it will try to identify and understand the changes in strategy of Kurdish activists, specifically the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which have led to potential openings in meaningful dialogue between the Kurds and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The first section of the paper will examine the historical relationship between the Turks and the Kurds in order to understand the climate which created the PKK. The second section will analyze statistical data on PKK attacks from 1992-2016 in order to try and identify trends or shifts in policy. The third section will seek to understand the shift in PKK’s policy which took place in 1999, leading them to almost totally abandon terror tactics and attacks on noncombatants and reduce their use of violence overall. The final section will draw conclusions based on the data analysis and attempt to make recommendations about what actions can be taken to prevent further violence.

Laura Supanich

Understanding Central America’s Migrant Crisis

With the 2016 presidential election fast approaching, immigration in the United States has become a controversial topic. Many candidates focus their attention on the factors pulling immigrants to the United States, such as what they consider easily attainable immigration benefits, amnesty programs, or an easily penetrable border with Mexico. However, little attention is given to the factors pushing the immigrants from their home countries. Examining and comparing specific factors in Latin America with immigration trends in the U.S. will show where the U.S. should focus its foreign policy efforts in order to best curb migration from the region. I have two major hypotheses regarding this study: first, I predict that there will be no increase in migration from Latin America to the United States after the implementation of DACA; and second, I predict that there is a strong correlation between both corruption and violence and migration to the United States from Latin America.

Danielle Tackoor

Does Social Media Use Reflect Political Preferences and Voting?

Before the 2008 U.S. presidential election, most citizens throughout the globe received their news from traditional media outlets such as print (newspapers), television and radio.  The advent of social media channels like Twitter is changing the landscape of citizenry and democracy. Instead of voters being told about a candidate’s position, Twitter creates a platform where candidates can discuss their views and citizens can voice their opinions on those views, thus fostering a back and forth conversation.  While scholars have looked at elections in their own countries, this paper seeks to use the existing research that is out there and apply those findings to some of the most talked about international elections to confirm or deny if social media conversations can predict the outcome of elections. By looking at tweets, hashtags and mentions of certain political candidates I compare what is said online to public opinion polls conducted during the election and the final election result. and how microblogging how social media platform.

Geoffrey Waller

Donetsk to Damascus: Russian Foreign Policy in Syria After the Ukraine Crisis

On September 30, 2015, Russia unexpectedly announced the beginning of an airstrike campaign in Syria, to be targeted at Islamic State and al-Nusra, the two major terrorist groups operating in Syria. Experts in the US and Europe immediately began accusing Russia of attacking non-terrorist rebel groups to support the Assad regime and keep Bashar al-Assad in power. These experts believed Syria was becoming a sort of proxy war between Russia and the West, continuing a trend they termed the ‘New Cold War’. This paper looks to theories of international relations to explain why Russia would want to get involved in the Syrian Civil War at all, as well as why they would want to support the Assad regime. After consideration of the theories, the best explanation for Russian intervention in Syria is a structural realist approach that says Russia wanted to stabilize Syria, since no other international intervention was making a difference. It seems as though Putin determines his country’s foreign policy based on the goal of increasing Russian power and status internationally, while protecting Russian allies and economic interests abroad, even if this comes into direct conflict with what the United States and its allies are doing in a country or region, though this is not the overarching goal as the ‘New Cold War’ proponents suggest.

Hind Alghamedi

Female Political Empowerment in the Middle East and North Africa

The generally low level of female political empowerment in the Middle East and North Africa may be the result of certain cultural similarities between the countries in the region, such as the prevalence of Islamic ideology and its many interpretations, for example. However, there are obvious differences among the countries in the region, where women may hold from zero to third of the seats in national parliaments. Such differences cannot explain the major disparity between female political empowerment in the region by religious or cultural background alone. Instead, there are likely to be other factors which may influence the variations of female political empowerment in the region. This leads to my research question and that is “what are the factors that hinder female participation and representation in politics in the Middle East and North Africa?”. To answer this question I looked at various factors including voting and elections, education, economic factors, cultural and social norms and gathered data to help see the bigger picture and come up with recommendations. The limitations in this research is that some of the factors related to social norms cannot be operationalized like religion.

Hector Garza

Mando único-Centralizing Public Insecurity-An Analysis of Mexico’s Police Reforms

The research question posed in this paper examines the possible factors that reduce or improve police effectiveness and considers possible consequences of the application of mando único in Mexico. I first consider several prevailing theories on how to improve police performance and efficiency in Mexico. After evaluating statistics on crime and policing, surveys on public safety, scholarly articles and books from regional experts, these data suggest that the real problem of police is not structural but one of institutional process. If Mexico wants to improve the performance and image of law enforcement, the government should consider transitioning from an emphasis on structural organization and instead focus solely on addressing institutional processes and procedures. I analyze institutional variables that include: police pay, recruitment, promotion, and hours worked and compare them to the most recent statistics of crime for each of the thirty-one states and federal district. My aim with is to determine whether there is any correlation between enhancing these institutional factors and better policing. I find that the factors that seem most closely related to positive police performance have to do with institutional processes, rather than structural organization.

Jamie Lenio

The Refugee Crisis in Europe

While the flow of refugees to Europe this year already denotes the greatest influx from outside the continent in modern history, many experts caution that the mass movement will most likely continue and could even increase — possibly for years. Almost simultaneously, electoral support for nationalistic, xenophobic parties has climbed steadily across Western Europe. How does this rise in anti-immigration platforms affect the plight of refugees trying to enter Europe? The tension between individual national identities and one supranational identity is problematic but, the refugee crisis, could potentially act as a catalyst that leads the EU towards stronger integration, and cooperation, proving itself as a strong international, supranational institution that places EU functionality above domestic political leanings. This paper will demonstrate through past examples that ‘crisis’ in the EU has again and again meant greater interdependence and multilateralism in the region despite repeated claims of it’s probable collapse. Although many headlines and political pundits throughout the years have often equated crisis in the region with its impeding failure, historically, crisis has on the contrary, facilitated cooperation and greater reliance among member states.

Thomas Mallon

The Future of Nuclear Power: Lessons from China and India

The purpose of this paper is to examine the various nuclear power projections for China and India; identify both the potential motivations and barriers each country faces in their quest for large-scale expansion; assess these variables in the context of the country forecasts; and finally, make a judgement about the potential reality of meeting the targets set for each country. Based on diligent analysis of each country, despite finding similar motivations for increasing nuclear power capacity, I argue that India will be more constrained than China in its attempts to build nuclear capacity mostly because of its democratic status and because of certain regulatory issues.

Gavin Veeder

The Age Old Problem of Pirates: Piracy in Southeast Asia

Piracy is an age-old problem for trade at sea.  It cost companies and countries millions of dollars in lost trade, higher insurances, increased fuel cost, and in time conducting counter-piracy efforts every year. This paper aims to examine the problem of a surge in piracy attacks in Southeast Asia over the last ten years. This increasing problem persists even in the wake of tremendous counter piracy success off the Horn of Africa. I will outline the history of piracy to provide context to the increasing problem. I will also look at Southeast Asia in context to the previous Horn of Africa crisis by reviewing the economics, geography, the nature of the attacks, and geopolitical concerns in the region. By reviewing against the Somali piracy I seek to understand why some tactics have been helpful and others have not yielded the same results in Southeast Asia, and I offer new solutions that could help curb the violence.