Recent GPAC Student Research Projects
Nick A. explores the complex role that Hezbollah has played in Lebanon since the 1980s. Relying on both scholarly works and live interviews, Nick carefully details Lebanon’ political history and traces Hezbollah’s evolution from a Shia Islamist group into a functioning political entity within the Lebanese state, one that holds seats in the Parliament and provides social services to segments of the Lebanese community.
Isabel A. combines her love of the French language with her interest in education in a project that compares school systems in France and America. Using the writings of both John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Isabel crafts a compelling contrast between France’s education for citizenship and America’s education for individual achievement. She undertook an original translation of a portion of Rousseau’s Emile to ground her theoretical argument about the aims of education in France.
French attitudes towards the U.S and globalization form the basis for Claire-Solène B.’s project, an investigation of France’s desire to be a source of “universal radiance” linguistically, culturally, and politically. Drawing on scholarly articles as well as mainstream media essays, Claire-Solene unravels the complicated relationship between France’s national identity and its place on the world stage, a relationship made unbearably real by the Paris bombings in November of 2015.
Wes C. interrogates the tension between Sharia law and economic structures in modern day Iran, asking how Iranian banks are able to operate in the face of the Islamic concept of “riba,” a prohibition found in the Qur’an on charging interest on loans. Wes identifies several ways the Iranian government subverts the ban on riba such as the rise of the bonyads in the wake of the Iranian revolution in 1976 and the substitution of the concept of “profits” for “interest” in banking legislation.
In “What Creates a Successful Secession?”, Henry C. uses case studies from around the world to come up with a set of factors that the international community uses to evaluate various secessionist movements. Using six cases (Kosovo, South Sudan, Scotland, Quebec, Catalonia and Crimea), Henry draws upon well-established political theory to identify the underlying arguments and causes for secession. His categories include the protection of liberty, preservation of culture, and economic efficiency.
India C. takes up the issues of cultural difference, justice, and gender in her project on the position of women in India. She explains how, despite being one of the largest democracies in the world, India still struggles to protect some women’s basic human rights. Focusing on the examples of child marriage and birth control, India uses both quantitative and qualitative research to delve into how each practice affects women’s chances for political and economic equality.
Jacob Ls’ project lies at the intersection of sports and globalization. Using the phenomenon of mega-sporting events such as the Olympics and the World Cup, Jacob asks whether these events are actually good for the people of the host countries, as is often claimed by the event organizers and hosting governments. Using data and news articles from past events, he draws a complicated picture of the hidden costs borne by the citizens of host countries such as Brazil and South Africa.
East meets West in Helen M.’s GPAC project, which grapples with the complicated issue of human rights in China. In an elegant and sophisticated analysis, Helen traces the influence of Confucian ideology in China’s constitution, highlighting the vast difference between the Confucian understanding of an individual’s role in society and the western, Enlightenment concept of “individual rights.” She argues powerfully and persuasively that deep philosophical differences create an unbridgeable gap between Chinese laws, which focus on citizens’ duties to their fellow citizens and nation, and the American Bill of Rights, which enumerates individual claims against government power.
After volunteering in the Saharawi refugee camps in Algeria during a family trip, Mistaya S. felt compelled to raise awareness of the unlawful Moroccan occupation of the Western Sahara and its impacts on the population there. Through a meticulous historical analysis, Mistaya details the colonial history of the Western Sahara, the military Moroccan occupation and POLISARIO response, and the way Morocco uses its resources to manipulate both media coverage and political attitudes worldwide, leaving the resource-poor Saharawis unable to raise political or social awareness of their plight.
Leo W. explores the ways in which modern cities use urban planning to manage their resources for sustainable growth. Defining sustainability as “the ability to meet the needs of the current generation without compromising the needs of future generations,” Leo looks at examples of sustainable practices for providing food, water, and transportation in cities as diverse as London, Sao Paulo, Nairobi and Tokyo. Leo’s research highlights the need for effective and efficient urban planning in the face of a growing population and changing global climate.
Elliot Y. takes a deep dive into the intricacies of Thailand’s energy system, highlighting the role that demand-side management (DSM) can play in saving energy resources. As a tropical country, Thailand is impacted by global warming more seriously than nations farther to the north or south, and so has been at the forefront of practices designed to reduce global warming. At the same time, Thailand’s rapidly growing economy demands smart energy policies. Elliot’s research explains how DSM helps customers use less electricity by shifting the electrical “load” on the grid to different peak or off-peak periods.