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Graduate Students|Global & Area Studies

Returning Master's Peace Corps Student Jason Funk

Master's Peace Corps student Jason Funk from Portsmouth, NH entered
the program in the fall of 2008. He recently returned from his Peace
Corps Volunteer program in Ecuador and is currently completing his thesis
"Shaping Environmental Education and Conservation in Southern
The placement for his volunteer program vested
his research interest in protected area conservation and community
development, environmentalism in Latin America, agroforestry systems,
and traditional Plant knowledge.


The focus of Jason's research arose from his service from April 2010-2012 as a Peace Corps volunteer in the southern Ecuadorian province of Zamora Chinchipe, where he collaborated and assisted park rangers from Parque Nacional Podocarpus.  During service he had the opportunity to work as a coordinator on park conservation and education activities with local schools in the southern zone of the park. The research project that he developed with the input and participation of local counterparts explored the experiences and impacts of these environmental education activities that involved elementary and high school students living and attending schools around the park. The findings from this research have demonstrated that these activities do raise greater awareness among youth of the importance and goals of the park and have helped to create positive perceptions of the park. The research also provides recommendations on how park staff and teachers can improve the program through a focus on enhancing educational goals and approaches, greater collaboration with local organizations, teacher training, and the development of environmental education curriculum materials appropriate to the local context and lives of the participants.


Spring/Summer 2014 Graduate Class

Name             Research Interests               Photo
Ievgen Avramenko,

Etnnic Identity of Estonian Youth and its Influence on Russian-Estonian
Ethnic conflicts are Even's main interest and he is going to investigate
the new ethnic identity of Estonian youth that has formed after Estonia
regained its independence in 1991. The study will focus on changing ethnic
and national identity after the Soviet Union broke up. He will also analyze
identity as a key factor in understanding Estonian Russian relations.


Ievgen Avramenko
Jessica Banda,

NGO Efficacy: Perceptions Among Donors, Adminitration, Staff, and
Community in Africa
Jess is interested in International Organization and Human Rights.
She plans to pursue a career with an international NGO and hopes
to discover a better way to  connect with the interest, needs, and
values of the people the NGO seeks to serve.

Jessica Banda
Cal Brakin,


Emerging Masculinities in Mongolia's Natural Resource Boom
Cal is in the Master's International Peace Corps Program and will be
going to Mongolia to serve as a Community and Youth Development
Volunteer. His research will investigate how social roles are changing
for men in Mongolia and how that will impact social norms.

Cal Brackin
Hope Dewell,


The Evolution of Shinto in Japan since the Japanese Nationalist
Movement in World War II
Hope believes that religions evolve and adapt. To her, Japan is
an interesting country to study and she is certain that it will provide valuable
and useful insights into the influence of personal identity, modernization,
and globalization on the shape of religion.
For her research project, Hope will be travelling to Osaka, Japan, which
was the first capital of Japan, and is now a major economic, cultural, and
historical hub, housing many shrines, temples, and religious festivals.

Hope Dewell

Maame Hagan,



Can Ghana Avoid the (Oil) Resource Curse? A Case Study of the Ahanta
West-Cape Three Points Oil Drilling Area
Maame's research will asses if three years down the line, Ghana has been
able to put in place the right measures and policies to be able to turn its
new oil findings into a blessing rather than a curse.

Maame Hagan
Alyssa Kaelin,


Rural Tourism Development in Nepal: One Village's Experience of Socioeconomic
Structural Transformation
Alyssa's research interests include international development, cultural heritage and sustainable tourism development in the Himalayan region. These interests stem from her time volunteering in South Asia, and her enjoyment of mountain culture around the world. She is looking forward to completing her fieldwork research in the fall of 2013.


Alyssa Kaelin

Anne Mook,
The Netherlands


The INF-Treaty: How European Public Opinion Influenced American Foreign Policy
Anne's research interests include American Foreign Policy, Europe, security, and public opinion. According to her, scholars have written intensively about the INF treaty, but the European perspective and its impact on American foreign policy is often neglected. By exploring recently declassified documents at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, she hopes to gain a better understanding of U.S. perspectives on European public opinion.

Anne Mook
Joshua Taboga, Wyoming


Germany's Environmental Ambitions: Morphing Central Europe's Strongest Economy into an Energy Independent Powerhouse
Josh, from Laramie, Wyoming, has spent a majority of his adult life in Germany.  He is interested in the workings of German and EU environmental policy, how they affect each other, and what the significance of all this is for Germany and its plan to eliminate nuclear energy from its soil and produce 80% renewable energy by 2050.  During his field work, Josh plans to travel back to Germany and learn the inner workings of an environmental organization.  He hopes to better understand how Germany has come to the forefront of environmentally-friendly energy production.


Joshua Taboga

Fall 2013 Entering Graduate Class

Name  Research Interests/ Thesis Topics                         

Megan Authement, Houma, LA


Education and Gender Roles in Latin America
During her assignment in the Peace Corps, she plans on researching how gender roles determined by society favor the education of males over females. This occurs in many Latin American communities that have a strong religious basis.

Ola Raddaoui, Tunisia

The Role of Women in the Arab Spring Revolutions: A New Perspective on Islamic Feminism

The purpose of Ola's research is to study the contribution of Arab Muslim women in the Arab Spring. Her research seeks to examine how women activits, defined as those involved in pro-democracy street protests and political awareness-raising campaigns have actively shaped political events surrounding the Arab Spring. Ola's research design will involve interviews addressed to young women activits in Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia. It is her hope that her research will provide participants with an opportunity to share the insights, contribute to the historical records often written by men, and educate others about women' prominent roles in the Arab Spring.


Natalia Sharova, Russia


How Could South Korea Play the United States to Provide More MIlitary Support In Light Of Increased Aggression of DPRK?
Nuclear nonproliferation in Northeast Asia and relations on the Korean peninsula are Natalia'a primary interests. She is planning to do her research in Washington, D.C. and in Seoul, South Korea. Natalia plans to pursue a career in the United Nations, idellay in IAEA.


Jacqueline Todak, WA


The Impacts of Corporate Social Responsibility Contributions to Coffee-Harvesting Communities in Latin America
Jacqueline will be assessing the benefits of cash donations provided by coffee retailers to coffee-harvesting communities in Latin America, in the name of Corporate Social Responsibility.


Matt Westerberg, Preston, ID


Civil-Military Relations in Transitional Democracies
Matt is interested in civil-military relations in transitional democracies. He plans on developing his thesis around this topic and pursuing his reserach through the MIPC program while serving as a volunteer for the Peace Corps begining mid 2014.


Graduate Students Having Served or Currently Serving in Peace Corps

Amy Arnold Sara Anderson Amy Moore Zach Moore

Amy Arnold (l) worked in municipal administration in Honduras; Sarah Anderson (r) taught English in Lesotho.

Amy and Zach Moore lived in Mongolia. Amy taught English and Zach worked in environmental education.

Anne Gaspar Anne Spear Jason Funk Devon Reeser
Anne Gaspar (l) worked in environmental education in Morocco; Ann Spear (r) worked in Burkina Faso as a Girls' Education and Empowerment (GEE) volunteer.

Jason Funk (l) worked in Ecuador as a Forestry Extensions volunteer; Devon Reeser (r) worked as a Community Economic Developer in Paraguay.

Mark Jameson Joy Johnson Jess Cal

Mark Jameson (l) worked in Togo as a small business enterprise volunteer; Joy Johnson (r) worked in Mali as an environmental extension volunteer.

Jess Banda (l) is currently in Benin, West Africa as a Development Advisor; Cal Brakin works as a Community and Youth Development volunteer in Mongolia, China.
Jacqueline will be assessing the benefits of cash donations [SD1] provided by coffee retailers to coffee-harvesting communities in Latin America,[SD2] in the name of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). The purpose of the research is to determine whether the donations are merely public relations efforts to bring positive publicity onto the donating companies, or if the money is actually making a significant [SD3] difference, as will be identified through gathering the opinions of the recipients and specifically focusing on visual indicators and statistics; including, annual income and access to education and health care, in the lives of those who receive it.




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