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UW may be a small school by the standards of major research universities, but you wouldn't know it by the number, quality, and range of experiences reflected in our MA students' accomplishments and research activities. Students have access to numerous sources of financial aid to conduct internationally-focused research.
Some of our graduates who traveled to foreign locales to perform thesis research are profiled on this page; many of our current graduate students are engaging in internationally-focused research.
Andrea Gooder conducted research for two weeks at the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, one week at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung and two weeks at the Berlin Staatsbibliothek in Berlin, Germany. Her research was purely archival in nature, so she reviewed archival bound newspapers and databases for many major German newspapers and news magazines in a search for any relevant letters to the editor, editorials, and op-eds. While in the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung she also conducted a review of their library holdings. When not in the libraries or research center, ahe also conducted extensive internet research on historical public opinion polls from Gallup Deutschland, Eurobarometer, Politbarometer, the World Values Survey, and other smaller local polling companies.
This research was conducted to try to help her understand how the German people reconcile the two competing ideologies of sovereignty of the state and universal human rights, and how collective memory in Germany influences this reconciliation. Because this is a broad topic, she chose three specific case studies: the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the 1999 NATO intervention in Kosovo, and the 2011 NATO intervention in Libya. Her tentative conculsion is that Germans do not use memory arguments when questioning which takes precedednce, state sovereignty or human rights (the big picture), but insead in smaller issues such as refugee situations or deployment of groundtroops. She has also observed that the German public tends to use the discourse of the political elite in their arguments, but they attach a different meaning to the words used by the politicians. According to Andrea, this especially true for memory arguments.
Rahimjon Abdugafurov was able to travel to Uzbekistan in the summer of 2012. During his research work in Uzbekistan, he conducted interviews and collected data on the topic of Muslim Views on Christianity and Judaism in Uzbekistan. He talked to twenty-four people in Tashkent and Namangan, two major cities in Uzbekistan, and gathered materials for my research from National Archive of the Republic of Uzbekistan, National Library of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Tashkent Islamic University, Tashkent Institute of Oriental Studies, Tashkent Research Institutes of History and Oriental Studies, Nawoi Regional Library in Namangan, Namangan State University and others.
His preliminary research findings show that (a) Muslim views about Christians and Jews do not remain static but change based on internal and external factors, and (b) Islamic law also changes its precepts, even on the same question, and differs from one historical period to another. According to Rahimjon, we observe admiration in the discourses of Jadids, Turkistani Muslim reformers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, toward kitobiylar (meaning the peoples who received books from God), a term frequently used to refer to Christians and Jews, we may observe changes in the attitudes of Muslim figures in the early 1990s. If Jadids brought up the images of Christians and Jews to be models to emulate in various spheres of life through comparison, Muslim leaders who emerged after the collapse of the Soviet Union, who also try to reform Islam in Uzbekistan, created images of Christians and Jews through contrast. He believes that in our increasingly globalizing world, it is important to bring forth the discourses of Muslims from the past that depicted Christians and Jews with positive attitudes as in the case of Jadids.
Shuping Zhang did her research project abroad in the summer of 2012. In 2009, the national project “Hu-hang Passenger Designated Line”, a high-speed rail line connects two big cities of China, Shanghai and Hangzhou, in 40 minutes, launched its construction in suburban areas. Last summer, Shuping went to Shanghai to investigate how the national project, Hu-hang High-Speed Rail affects the nearby communities. Case studies were carried out in Shanghai’s two suburban districts, Songjiang District and Jinshan District, where the rail passing by.
The object for the research is to testify the sustainability of urban sprawl in suburban areas at community level. The filed work is thus oriented to evaluate the sustainability of land use, in particular, the mass transportation construction, vis-à-vis analyzing how it affects the nearby communities in the aspects of social equity, economic security, ecology integrity, and livability concerns. Critics will be provided to depict the tremendous landscape changes in the affected suburban areas and the conflicts of urban sprawl versus community benefits.
The tentative result is the project does produce an unsustainable process and aftermath to the affected suburban communities: (1) it has aroused the social inequity in terms of uneven compensation within the communities; the contrast of travelers’ benefits from the fast transportation and the peasants’ suffering from noises, pollutions, and so forth; (2) the community’s economic security is challenged by the landscape change from agriculture use to transportation facilities—peasants feel hard to find a new way to earn their living other than cultivating vegetables; (3) the ecological integrity is disturbed after the project—the river and village paths have been seriously polluted by the construction trashes; and (4) the livability is at risk as the village members are suffering from the frequent noises caused by the trains under a long period of daily base. Majority community members mentioned that it was not safer to live here anymore.
She tried to find out causes behind the unsustainable results. For the social inequity, inefficient and insufficient communication between the community members and local officers, lack of specific land laws could be contributors to the problem. In terms of economic insecurity, the lack of job substitution or creation for the affected community members has rendered their lives into instability. Finally, the ecological integrity and community concerns could have been protected if a cleaner technology for the construction was provided during the construction and followed by thorough reclamation and restoration of the affected area.
Amy Sherwood conducted research in Kenya for her thesis which focuses on community responses to drought and climate change. Her fieldwork was partially funded through a grant from the Social Justice Research Center, a Haub School Grant, and an A&S Saunders/Walters Study Abroad Fund grant. She graduated in May 2011 and now serves as the volunteer coordinator for the Jane Goodall Society in Tanzania.
Tara Busch worked as a research fellow at the Kazahkstan Institute of Management, Economics and Strategic Research in Almaty, Kazakhstan in summer/fall 2010 to study the role of NGOs in the creation of civil society in this post-Soviet republic. Tara received funds from the A&S Saunders/Walter Fund, a Cheney Fellowship, a Social Justice Research Center grant, and an Arts and Sciences Scholarship Award. She graduated in December 2011 and continues her work in Kazakhstan with NGO's.
Anne Spear returned from her Peace Corps service in Burkina Faso. During her Peace Corps service she studied the impact of Mothers' Associations which encourage mothers to be involved in their children's education. Her work was funded through the A&S Saunders/Walter Study Abroad Fund and the Social Justice Research Center.
Christopher Aikele was a Researcher-in-Residence for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Prague, Czech Republic in the Summer 2010. Christopher conducted research for his thesis which focuses on democratization in Ukraine. Christopher received funding from a Cheney Excellence in Study Abroad Grant and a stipend from the International Studies Research Excellence Fund. He is now in OSC training and will study to be an Army linguist, while also working on his thesis project throughout 2011-12.
Sarah Cook traveled to Armenia in Summer 2011 to study the relationships among agricultural producers and consumers and investigated the role of the Foreign Agricultural Service in the development of domestic and international markets in Armenia. She received a State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research grant, a Cheney Excellence in Study Abroad grant, and an International Studies Research Excellence Fund stipend. She is working on her thesis project throughout 2011-12.
Tom Lennon studied the local perceptions of aesthetic change (including social, cultural, and physical aesthetics) in the Punta Cana region of the Dominican Republic in Spring 2011 as they are affected by tourism. He will graduate in May 2012.
Devon Reeser is researching how individuals vulnerable to climate change can
Devon working with children on a Paraguayan
Follow Devon's Blog about her research project in Paraguay.
Jason Funk was with the Peace Corps in a small farming and cattle ranching community in the mountain rainforests of the province of Zamora Chichipe near the southern border of Peru. His main projects center around his work with park guards from the Ecuadorian Ministry of Environment, providing technical assistance in the conservation of Podocarpus National Park. He is currently designing a research project that seeks to better understand student, teacher and park guards perceptions and experiences with the environmental education program Podocarpus National Park. During his research project he would like to find out what the impact of the program is, what is working well and how the program can be improved.
Chelsea Edge traveled to Kenya and Iceland in Summer 2011 to study the growing trend in study abroad opportunities of “study tours,” which are short-term excursions and last less than eight weeks. The overarching focus of her research is how students’ perceptions of their study abroad experience are influenced by the length of their time abroad. Chelsea received a stipend from the International Studies Research Excellence Fund. She is working on her thesis project throughout 2011-12
The "What in the World" program highlights the fieldwork that International Studies Master's students did for their MA thesis projects. The students' work illustrates the kind of exciting and innovative projects that International Studies' students typically complete for their degree. The latest event was held during the Global & Area Studies Centennial Summer Series, in the Centennial Branch Library and featured our former graduate students Cara Durr and Robert Leteff: