GSSJ Alumni


(listed with thesis titles and abstracts)


GSSJ Class of 2017


Chavez, Austin

Clouds Over Shabaab: A Systematic Analysis of US Drone Strikes on the Operational Capacity of al-Shabaab in Somalia

This thesis analyzes the impact of the United States drone campaign in Somalia on the al-Queada affiliated terrorist group, al-Shabaab. After reviewing existing literature on drone strike counterterrorism policies and on the Somali civil war, I critique the approach of the existing literature. Previous studies on drone strike effectiveness in Afghanistan and Pakistan have derived models that may or may not be applicable to smaller scale counterterrorism operations such as Somalia. Although this thesis arrives at no definitive conclusion about the course of U.S counterterrorism policy for Somalia; the modelling on number of terrorist attacks, attack casualties, and attack methods suggests a possible course of action for reducing particularly violent upswings and reducing highly publicized attacks in the future.


Culbreth, Madeline

Trump’s Travel Ban: Competing Cases and Conflicting Interpretations

Trump’s travel ban has sparked extensive legal debate. I examine current court proceedings, precedent, and legal scholarship to identify that debate’s major themes. Much of the legal debate centers on religious freedom, due process, and the Immigration and Nationality Act, and I conclude that no one argument is immune from the legal scrutiny of the opposition. However, the claim that the Executive Order violates the Establishment Clause is a stronger argument than the claim that the EO violates due process rights. The temporary restraining orders against the Executive Order have also cited additional laws and precedents, which prompted further research into the history and application of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Administrative Procedure Act and the history of the judiciary’s relationship with Executive Orders. Despite my extensive review of precedent, I conclude that this is unprecedented territory and we will have to wait and see as cases continue to move through the courts.


Dotterer, Eric

Does Voluntary Deradicalization Work? Prospects for Success of a New French Program

A new French deradicalization program aims to build twelve new centers across France, one in each province. The first center, created in September of 2016, seeks to disengage potentially radicalized individuals and reintegrate them back into society. Despite its newness, the center has drawn widespread criticism, presumably given the failure of past deradicalization programs. This paper examines similarities that the new French program shares with other domestic and international reintegration and deradicalization programs, and investigates which elements have seen successes in the past. I examine French and international media sources to determine early indicators of the program’s success and conduct interviews with journalists, officials, program critics and program defenders. My interviewees offer several different ideas about the predictors of successful disengagement and deradicalization, leading to some preliminary conclusions about whether this investment by the French government will see tangible results.


Fico, Jamie

Ageless Traditions, Rising Underdogs: The Changing Players of Humanitarian Aid Operations in Yemen

Traditional aid organizations rely heavily on the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality, and independence in order to validate their work in conflict zones and protect the safety of their staff. Their approach is to not take sides in hostilities and to work to alleviate suffering for those most in need regardless of ideological, political, or racial affiliations.  However, the humanitarian field has expanded in modern times to other sectors such as faith-based charities, state-backed assistance, and locally-formed community organizations. New actors straddle the line between doing good, honest humanitarian work that alleviates human suffering, while at the same time using their humanitarian pedestal to garner international and local support for their side in a conflict. Even more noteworthy are the new partnerships forming between traditional actors and these faith-based, state, and local actors. Yemen reveals the shifting alignments of the traditional aid community with newer humanitarian actors that break down divides between western and Islamic, foreign and local aid.  These old and new actors alike have ultimately decided that they must work together to reach the war-tried population.         


Finn, Amanda

A Comprehensive Analysis of the Main Grievances of the Indian Caste System as Defined by Dalit Advocacy Organizations

This thesis examines grievances regarding the Indian caste system by conducting a content analysis of available publications from seven major Dalit advocacy groups. Publications were analyzed and compared based on their references to different examples of caste-based discrimination. The publications analyzed were found online and each was in English. Budget reports and publications in Hindi were excluded from the analysis. Results of the content analysis pointed to both similarities and differences across organizations. Common themes from the available literature pointed to grievances stemming from the effect of natural disasters on Dalits and the lack of adequate prevention, preparedness and response mechanisms. Other frequent grievances included disparities in education and literacy rates between Dalits and higher castes, inadequate representation in the workforce, reliance on agriculture, gender rights, access to water and sanitation, and other forms of social discrimination and exclusion.


Gallahan, Nicole

You Say a Lot When You Say Nothing at All: A Study of the Relationship Between ISIS and Al Qaeda

The Islamic State (ISIS) and Al-Qaeda (AQ) are well known and fairly well researched in the world today. The two terrorist organizations were once closely affiliated and have since split drastically. Their similarities, differences, and tensions are well documented in the literature, but what is less documented is what they directly say about one another. I have conducted a content analysis of ISIS’s Rumiyah and Dabiq searching for direct mentions of AQ, as well as a content analysis of AQ’s Inspire looking for direct mentions of ISIS. My findings reveal that although their relationship has been well documented in the academic literature, they do not say much about each other in their own publications. There are of course some mentions of one another, but a search for obvious key terms revealed little in the two organizations’ very detailed publications.


Goretsky, Rachel

With Friends Like These: Analyzing NATO Burden Sharing Trends

This paper examines how selected NATO Member States respond to criticisms from the United States to pay their fair share of European defense and how their decisions will affect the future of NATO.  Six countries, three smaller states and three larger states are studied. All six countries have been increasing their defense spending in the last few years and plan to continue to do so. (Two, Poland and the United Kingdom, already exceed the targeted minimum.) I find that the smaller states have increased their defense spending in the context of growing Russian aggression, rather than as a result of President Trump’s criticisms.  Regarding the larger states, France is spending more as a result of increasing terrorism and interest in becoming more autonomous in its security, rather than to abate criticisms. Germany is most resistant to increasing its defense spending, though the Germans are reluctantly spending more incrementally over time.


Grayson, Akitriana

Drones and the Pakistan Media: How does the Media Characterize Pakistani Leaders’ Responses to the U.S. Drone Program?

Since 9/11, the Pakistani government has allied with the US in the War on Terror, allowing it to conduct drone strikes on its territory. News reports show that Pakistani leaders are aware of US drone strikes, and these reports are sometimes the most reliable source of information we have to gain insight into the classified US drone program in Pakistan. Although there have been studies conducted on how civilians and militants in Pakistan respond to drone strikes, there has yet to be a study conducted on how the Pakistani media characterizes Pakistani leaders’ responses to US strikes. In order to assess how Pakistani heads of state respond, I conducted a content analysis of news articles from Pakistani sources to determine how the media characterizes leader responses. All outlets are overall strongly critical of Pakistani leaders. They describe their support for the US drone program as counterproductive to the War on Terror, leading to an increase of resentment from their citizens. However, the extent to which the news sources criticize Pakistani leaders does differ from administration to administration.


Hershman, Charles (graduating Summer 2016)

A Quantitative Analysis of the Prevalence of Corruption in International Sport

There has recently been an increase in reported cases of corruption in international sport. In response, both sponsors and non-profit organizations have taken remedial action in order to protect sport through efforts to ensure accountability, good governance, and integrity in sport. This study analyzes the factors that could be used to gain a better understanding of the magnitude of corruption in sport in hopes of future applications of anti-corruption policies. The variables examined are: doping violations in Olympic drug testing, the nationality of athletes that committed violations, and the perceptions of general corruption within a country. The results suggest, perhaps surprisingly, that there is a negative correlation between the prevalence of corruption in sport and the perceived extent of general corruption. This analysis posits that the phenomenon of doping is more complex than many realize, as it encompasses a wide variety of behaviors, situations and motivations. 


Jackson, Jake

Understanding Police Militarization from the Law Enforcement Perspective

Although the study of the militarization of police has been growing for the past several years, there is a lack of perspectives from practitioners within the law enforcement community. This paper seeks to fill that void by attempting to understand arguments for and against police militarization from a police perspective. I break the topic of police militarization down into several overarching themes: the police use of military technology and equipment, the use of militarized training and tactics; and the adoption of militarized values and beliefs commonly referred to as the warrior mindset. I explore these themes in a systematic analysis of online communities used by law enforcement officials and via interviews with two police officers. Although I hypothesized that there would be broad support for the militarization of police form the law enforcement community, the final research did not generally support this claim. Rather, opinions regarding militarized policing varied greatly across the various forums, blogs, and interviews. 


Jenkins, Vendarryl

War on Drugs or a Blind Eye to International Law: Mass Incarceration as a Tool of Racial Destruction

The systemic racial injustices of mass incarceration in the US remain so prevalent that it should be categorized as a crime against humanity. While the Jim Crow era is understood to be a part of the historical Dark Age that ended with the victories of the civil rights movement, the present War on Drugs and the resulting mass incarceration of Black people has replicated the discriminatory effects. This paper will attempt to portray the War on Drugs through an international scope, which will underscore that America is in violation of international law and various international treaty conventions. Though much of the literature on the subject of racial inequality in the criminal justice system maintains a strictly domestic focus, this paper will further assert that the government of the United States has committed a crime against humanity according to the Rome Statute. 


Kimlick, Madalyn

The Role of Food Insecurity in Egyptian Political Unrest

This study illuminates how and how much the role of food insecurity plays in Egyptian political unrest. To illuminate these connections, I conduct a detailed analysis of both regional and global news media regarding Egypt’s unrest and food insecurity experience. My content analysis establishes the importance of understanding food security as an input factor to Egypt’s political stability. The links, implications, and structures of political unrest and food insecurity responses are evidence of important connections, rarely addressed in current literature on Egypt. The study results indicate food insecurity contributes to unrest through political, population, global, and geographical variables. As such, this Egypt-specific study corroborates extant scholarship from other countries and regions indicating the vital connection between food insecurity and political unrest.      


Mehta, Jaina

President Trump’s Executive Order #13769: Practical Security Implications for the United States

This thesis examines the real-world security implications of Donald Trump’s travel and immigration ban. Considering the question, “will this order truly increase the security of the United States and its citizens,” I analyze multiple aspects of this presidential action. Starting with the text of the executive order and its stated mission, I investigate the security considerations of implementing this ban of seven nations from entry into the United States. I gather both quantitative and qualitative data regarding environmental (political, social, and economic) factors in the nations banned, the terror and crime statistics of the U.S. regarding foreign nationals from these countries, and the likelihood of a terrorist attack being undertaken by non-U.S. citizens, including temporary and permanent residents travelling into the United States from elsewhere. I conclude that, overall, the executive order does not create policy that would lead to its stated aim. I also consider each banned nation individually, determine the potential threat level of each, and consider the appropriateness of its appearance on the banned country list.


Moreno, Jessica

Comparing the Effectiveness of Non-Governmental Organizations with Faith-Based Organizations Providing Services to Victims of Human Trafficking

There are many types of organizations working to fight human trafficking today, two of which are non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and faith-based organizations (FBOs). However, there is very little data showing which types of organizations are more effective in their work. The findings from a series of 10 interviews done in the Spring of 2017 with representatives from both NGOs and FBOs suggest that there is not a strong difference between the effectiveness of NGOs and FBOs. Rather, the success of these organizations is determined by a variety of factors that can be shared by both subgroups. Examples of these factors include the organization’s available resources and the strength and sustainability of the infrastructure. Solutions to improving victims’ service provision on the whole include increasing funding, research, accountability among faith-based organizations, performing frequent realistic assessments of internal structure and efforts, and hiring trained professionals for victim-specialized services.


Neal, Katherine

Investigating Food Justice and the Role of the Local Networked Non-Profit

Food justice is both a movement and a goal for equity in all aspects of food system production and consumption. The Charlottesville Food Justice Network (CFJN) is a small group of local organizations that are in some way invested in community food security. This research project addresses the role of collaborative structures and the limitations of non-profits organizing for food system change. It works to address the challenges of incorporating marginalized community voices within non-profit centered structures, as well as highlights the work of non-profit actors working to understand their privilege both individually and in collective work. Finally, this thesis presents the negotiation of food justice and the traditional food security paradigm with organizational engagement with emergency food providers.


Pickering, Althea

Examining the Role of Gender Inequality as a Predictor of Conflict

Women are disproportionately affected by violence and conflict across the globe, but are continually left out of political participation and peace processes that reestablish pre-existing frameworks of discrimination, insecurity, and inequality. Although women make up more than half of the world population, they continue to be underrepresented in politics and peacebuilding. These limited possibilities illustrate the paradox reinforced by traditional gendered norms and societal expectations of women that perpetuate inequity and discrimination. This paper uses quantitative analysis to examine whether gender inequality is a predictor for conflict and violence. The results confirm the findings in the existing literature that the presence of domestic gender inequality increases the likelihood of a state being involved in internal or international conflict. These results provide strong evidence that empowering women should be a global priority.


Robards, Mary Beth

The Belgian Case: Investigating the Links Between Language, Laïcité, and Terrorism

A 2016 article entitled “The French Connection: Explaining Sunni Militancy Around the World,” by William McCants and Christopher Meserole, asserts that the best predictor for foreign fighter radicalization is “whether a country (is) Francophone.” This is explained by the idea that a “francophone effect” is caused by strict secularism of “French political culture.” This paper examines that claim in the context of Belgium, a francophone country that is divided linguistically and politically into three major regions. An examination of Belgian terrorists, terror attacks and foreign fighter numbers will show that the overwhelming majority of these people are from Flanders and the Brussels capital region, not from Francophone Wallonia. I then examine Belgian political culture in the three major political regions, measuring it against French laïcité in order to determine if there is in fact a relationship between laïcité and terrorism.


Schnider, Reid

The ‘Why’ Behind One of the World’s Most Lethal Terrorist Organizations: Deciphering the Motivations of Abubakar Shekau’s Boko Haram

In recent years, the Nigerian Salafist group Boko Haram has claimed thousands of lives and internally displaced millions of others, having undergone a dramatic tactical shift since the execution of its founder Mohammed Yusuf and the appointment of its current leader Abubakar Shekau. Given the new beast Boko Haram has become under Abubakar Shekau, it is more important than ever to determine what motivates what is now one of the deadliest terrorist organizations in the world. Literature on the subject is largely inconclusive, but generally argues motivation along four lines: economic motivations, political motivations, identity-based motivations, and religious motivations. Using a qualitative content analysis, this paper examines how the voices of relevant populations—current members of Boko Haram, former members of Boko Haram, victims and bystanders, and the armed forces combatting Boko Haram—reconcile with the conclusions of relevant academic literature.


Shahbaz, Mishal

Investigating Media Coverage of the Uprising in Kashmir through a War and Peace Journalism Perspective

India administered Kashmir has seen tremendous violence over the years in its struggle for independence. Summer 2016 saw some of the worst violence in modern history after the death of the separatist leader and militant, Burhan Wani. There was significant media coverage of the uprisings and the crackdown by the Indian army following his death. This study aims to discern the frameworks used in that coverage according to Johan Galtung’s peace journalism model. The study analyzed six news outlets and coded each article according to seven peace/war journalism indicators. The newspapers analyzed were Times of India, Hindustan Times, New York Times, Aljazeera, The Nation, and DAWN News. The findings indicated that the dominant frame used in the reporting was a war journalistic one, with the salient indicators being an elite-oriented and differences-oriented perspective. The salient indicators for peace journalism were seeing conflict as the problem and focusing on the causes and consequences of the conflict. 


Smith, Effie

Belonging in the Borderlands: Social Citizenship and Community Integration of Haitians and their Descendants in the Dominican Republic

My field and interview research provides an explanation for how Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent living in the Dominican Republic achieve social citizenship and integrate themselves into Dominican society, particularly in rural areas, regardless of legal residency or citizenship. I show that Haitians and their descendants have been able to attain social citizenship despite the Dominican government’s restrictive immigration policies and continued attempts to bar them from integrating into the Dominican social fabric. This is important as much of the dialogue surrounding the issue is negative and presents a hopeless view of relations between Dominicans and Haitians. My research shows another side of this relationship. Although there is still a lot of racism towards and unfair treatment of Haitians and their descendants, these individuals also have positive experiences and strong relationships with their Dominican neighbors, particularly in rural areas and bateyes.


Travers, Victoria

Motivating Compassion: An examination of what drove Germany and Sweden to adopt the two most generous asylum policies on Earth

Over one million people displaced by the Syrian Civil War are seeking refuge and asylum in Europe. Most EU states, however, have barred these asylum-seekers, with the notable exceptions of Germany and Sweden. This thesis queries: What makes these two countries different? What cultural, economic, and political reasons initially compelled Germany and Sweden to adopt liberal refugee and asylum policies?  To answer this question, I conduct comparative historical research and critical content analysis of newspaper reports, editorials, and opinion pieces to examine what Germans and Swedes view as the preeminent motivators behind their respective nations’ policies. Ultimately, my findings suggest that German empathy is intertwined with Holocaust guilt, low national pride, economic incentives, and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s unilateral political choices. Swedes, on the other hand, are driven by a resilient – though not inexhaustible – culture of compassion and sense of national pride.


Inaugural GSSJ Class of 2016


Anderson, Casey

Privatization Pushback: A Case Study of the Successful D.C. Effort to Dismantle a Private Prison

There has been a nationwide pushback against the privatization of jails and prisons, but thus far few campaigns have been as successful as the one headed up by ReThink Justice D.C. located in the District of Columbia. I, therefore, conducted in-depth interviews with participants in the Rethink Justice D.C. coalition regarding their attitudes about privatization, deprivatization and campaign strategy. There was more of a consensus among my interviewees about the problems of privatization than about how best to go about deprivatization or the reasons for the D.C. campaign’s success. Respondents also felt that their strategy could be applied elsewhere, though it would have to be adapted to fit the particular political and social climate of that area.


Boyd, Katrina

The Syrian Crisis: Understanding the Nature of Public Attitudes Toward Refugees in Turkey and the United States

The scope and duration of the Syrian conflict has made the situation for Syrian refugees and their host communities exceedingly difficult. In order to compare differences in public attitudes toward the arrival of Syrian refugees, a content analysis of Turkish and American newspapers examined relationships between security, cultural, and humanitarian concerns. Between 2013 and 2015, Turkish reports were more likely than US ones to exhibit anti-refugee sentiment. Additional analysis revealed that both the US and Turkey considered the refugee crisis through a security lens regardless of overall pro- or anti- refugee sentiment. It is concluded that while contact theory likely plays a small role in increasing social acceptance between host citizens and incoming groups, it is likely that inherent differences such as relative populations and geographic factors provide better explanations for the nature of varying public opinion toward refugees.


Dister, Jonah

Inclusion of Data on Mental Health of Short-Term Refugees Demonstrates Significance of Gender, Traumatic Events, and Post-Migration Stress

The resettled refugee population is particularly susceptible to mental illness primarily because of the prevalence of pre-resettlement traumatic experiences. Though existing literature has identified a number of risk factors and their corresponding associations with the prevalence of mental illness among refugees, there is no previous meta-analysis of the data on refugees displaced fewer than 5 years before. This review seeks to expand upon an existing 2015 systematic literature review from Bogic, Njoku, & Priebe through the incorporation of data on more recently displaced refugees. Twelve new studies were identified, and their data was extracted and compared with the existing data. Results demonstrated substantial differences in the risk factors of gender, number of traumatic events, and post-migration stress.


Gallo, Meredith

The Pressure Game:  The Relationship Between US Pressure and the Efficacy of Pakistani Military Counterterrorism Campaigns

Since the warming of US-Pakistan relations after September 11, 2001, reconciling American and Pakistani counterterrorism interests has been a taxing and complicated process. This paper assesses the influence of US pressure on the effectiveness of Pakistani military counterterrorism campaigns through an analysis of US diplomatic pressure and militant and Pakistani armed forces casualties. Data for this research is drawn from the South Waziristan Operations in 2009 and early 2010, and the first months of the North Waziristan offensive in 2014.


Goodwin, Cori

Domestic Adoption Trends in Uganda:  What the Media Can Tell Us

Adoption has been considered a solution for abandoned or orphaned children for decades, but has not always flourished everywhere.  While Western countries have been using domestic adoption as a way to provide abandoned children with loving homes and childless parents with children for a long time, African countries have only rather recently started using legal adoption to provide solutions for vulnerable children.  After years of research and discontent over the current handling of children in Uganda, the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development began a campaign to encourage Ugandans to adopt Ugandan children.  Now five years after the start of their campaign, this paper seeks to chronicle and analyze the shifting focus of this media campaign and how trends and opinions of domestic adoption have changed as a result. 


Erica Jensen

Who Will Attack Again?  A Quantitative Analysis of Variables in Guantanamo Bay Detainee Recidivism

Recidivism continues to be a problem after detention for all prisons. However, due to the political significance of terrorism issues, Guantanamo Bay detainee recidivism requires greater examination. This paper examines factors that could be used to predict recidivism in detainees in hopes of applying this knowledge to counterterrorism practice. The variables examined are: years between release and reported recidivism, the administration who released the detainee, the detainee risk status as decided by the Joint-Task Force, the detainee’s region of origin, and whether or not a detainee was tortured during his time at Guantanamo. The results suggest that there is a negative correlation between recidivism and Obama releases when controlled for time, and a positive correlation between years since release and recidivism. Perhaps most interestingly, the results suggest a positive correlation between torture and recidivism.


Madelein Jurden

The Real Third Phase: The Islamic State’s Evolution to Statehood

Terrorism has become a focus of international discourse over the past twenty years, and most recently the group on everyone’s mind is the Islamic State. The world watched the group evolve from Al-Qaeda in Iraq into a fledgling state that controls territory in Iraq and Syria. As the group’s operational landscape has evolved, so has its internal narrative developed a cohesive explanation of who they are, what they plan to do, and how, through their magazine, Dabiq. This essay uses the narratives present in the magazine to analyze the intersection between enemy focus and state sovereignty. The findings suggest that the organization is morphing in to a sovereign state with a very distinct rhetoric dictating friend versus foe. As Western forces become more involved with the group, understanding how its members see themselves will be paramount to mounting a comprehensive assault.


Brianna Lambert

Bridging the Gap: Addressing the Sex vs. Labor Divide in the US Anti-Human Trafficking Field

For those involved in the anti-trafficking field, the discrepancy between the amount of funding, resources, and publicity for sex and labor trafficking initiatives is often pronounced. Considering the severity of both subsets of human trafficking, it can be puzzling why such a discrepancy continues to shape anti-trafficking campaigns and agendas around the US. Some scholars have sought to unpack this curious divide; however, there is a distinct lack of professional perspectives on the subject within existing literature. By conducting personal interviews with members of the US anti-trafficking community on why this distinction persists, how important it is in practice, and whether or not we should do something about it, I attempt to bridge the gap between anti-trafficking professionals and academic scholars on how we can best combat human trafficking in the future.


Emily Leidy

Terrorists are Better at Chatting than Hacking

I examined whether or not the Sunni terrorist organization ISIS is technologically advanced by comparing their posts to posts from supposedly advanced hacking groups such as Anonymous. This provides a baseline to determine if ISIS uses more technical language than other terrorist groups, which would imply their relative technological advancement. I analyzed 37 ISIS Twitter accounts and compared them to 36 Anonymous Twitter accounts. To supplement, I also tracked and analyzed 4 active Telegram channels. I found that both ISIS and Anonymous were better at talking, or posting, than hacking. Anonymous used more technological language than ISIS and there was a statistically significant difference between the Twitter presence of Anonymous and that of ISIS. I conclude that although ISIS utilizes bots and is attempting to expand their hacking knowledge, their cyber capabilities are still limited and comprise a small part of their overall operation    


Nicholas Masters

Is Charismatic Leadership Essential for Genocide? A Case Study of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and the Islamic State

This thesis applies historic and modern definitions and interpretations of charismatic leadership to the case of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the Islamic State. By analyzing a variety of sources including Dabiq (the Islamic State magazine), academic literature, and academic articles written about the Islamic State, this thesis explores whether Al-Baghdadi’s relationship to the Islamic State qualifies him as either a “charismatic leader” or one with a “cult of personality.” This thesis also looks at how the presence of either relationship has contributed to the Islamic State’s execution of genocide against individuals across Syria and Iraq. 


Fiona McCarthy (Graduating Fall 2017)

International Hopes, National Dissent: The Deteriorating Relationship Between the United Kingdom and the European Union

Using the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union as a case study, this report details several landmark court rulings to explore reasons for compliance or noncompliance with international law. The existing literature on the subject chiefly argues that nations only agree to international law when it is convenient for their national interest, and authors have most often used a broad survey of country data, court rulings, and historical analysis to back this claim. While this paper does not directly refute the national interest theory, it explores a single country with a greater degree of depth than is common in the literature. There seems to be no one particular reason for compliance, but two major reasons influencing noncompliance. These two reasons, politicization of these major cases and public opinion towards them, arise out of cases where the state has a compelling, if not always rational, reason not to cooperate with the ruling, and exaggerates the broader political, legal, and social implications of each case, with negative consequences for international cooperation in general.


Areeka Memon

A Newspaper Content Analysis of Cross-National Differences in the Nationalism and Sensationalism of Public Health Media Coverage

This paper analyzes how newspapers in three of the most populous countries in the world, the U.S., China, and Pakistan, frame three major public health issues including, Ebola, malaria, and HIV/AIDS in terms of national and international interests as well as how sensational each country is in their coverage of these public health issues. Contrary to a prevailing view in the scholarly literature, I did not find that newspapers in any of the three countries were particularly sensational. The country with the most sensational newspaper articles is the U.S. and the country with the least sensational newspaper articles is Pakistan. The U.S. newspaper articles about these diseases are more likely to have an international focus, and the Pakistani newspaper articles are more likely to have a national focus. HIV/AIDS had the most sensational newspaper articles overall, and HIV/AIDS also had the most nationalistic newspaper articles.


Isabelle Merritt 

An Analysis of German Bundestag Speeches to Determine Refugee Sentiment Over Parties Regions, and Time

Among European countries, Germany is accepting the highest number of refugees from the Syrian Civil War. This paper examines refugee sentiment using latent content analysis of speeches in the Bundestag, the lower level of the German federal legislature. I examine how refugee sentiment is tied to party allegiance, regional economics, and changes over time. The findings suggest party allegiance is the most significant factor in determining a Bundestag member’s refugee sentiment with 100% of Die Grünen and Die Linke, 78.9% of the SPD, and only 15.6% of the CDU/CSU speaking positively towards refugees. Regional economics has no real effect on refugee sentiment. Support for refugees decreases notably over time, specifically in the SPD and CDU/CSU parties, providing evidence against the contact theory of immigration and suggesting that this refugee crisis is regarded differently from migration in the past. 


Erik Morlock 

Refugees in the Media: An Analysis of Perceptions of Refugees in the US and Sweden

There are many potential reasons why one might believe Sweden is more receptive to immigrants and refugees than the United States. However, the United States was built on being a melting pot for immigrants from all over the world. There are also many reasons to believe neither of these countries would be receptive to refugees. This inspired an analysis of current media perception of refugees from Swedish and American news sources. A latent and manifest analysis of editorials and opinion pieces from the sources show conflicting answers regarding the question of the country that is more favorable to refugees. This is furthermore unclear because of the relative difference in refugee populations between the two countries.


Jackson Simon

Precision Guided Slingshot: The Effect of Precision Guided Anti-Ship Munitions on American Power Projection

The development and proliferation of Precision Guided Munitions has increased the effective range and potency of weapons platforms, and altered the strategic landscape. This paper examines the effectiveness of PGMs in the Strait of Hormuz, and its impact on American power projection capabilities in an environment of accurate, survivable precision guided threats. It highlights the future vulnerabilities of legacy doctrine in an Anti-Access/Area-Denial environment through a comparison of current force capabilities and a scenario analysis of an attempted closure of the Strait of Hormuz. By weighing the significance of specific capabilities of precision guided weapons systems, and the concomitant political and strategic ramifications, this paper ties together operational planning and political analysis in Iranian-American relations.


Olivia Staff

Vladimir Putin’s Foreign Policy Decisions: A Historiography of Western Interpretations

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has befuddled Western leaders since he first ascended to power in 1999. Since that time, countless policy and behavioral theories have been created in order to provide clarity into his decision-making. This paper tracks the shifts in Western interpretations of his foreign policy over the past 17 years. Before the terrorist attacks on the United States on 9/11, scholars debated if Putin’s intentions were pro or anti West or pro or anti American. After 9/11 this debate was settled for a short time, when scholars reached a consensus that Putin was a pro-US actor. However, this honeymoon period was short-lived. Since the beginning of the US war in Iraq, Western interpretations of Putin’s foreign policy decisions have been riddled with a sense of distrust, culminating in the strained relations of today.


Lauren Stapleton

Investigating the Link Between Economics and Terrorism: An Analysis of AQAP’s Motivations

The link between economics and terrorism has been a frequently debated topic in the last 15 years.  Many people who believe that poverty serves as a breeding ground for terrorism cite AQAP’s success in Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world.  For this paper, I read all 14 issues of AQAP’s official publication, Inspire, to see if the authors suggested economic grievances as an incentive for recruitment or as a motivation for their actions.  Ultimately, I found very little evidence to suggest a link between economics and terrorism.  The paragraphs containing economic motivations accounted for less than 9% of the overall paragraphs listing incentives to support AQAP’s cause.  Political and religious motivations made up 44% and 47%, respectively. 


Carly Taylor

The “T-Word” – Why French Journalists Were Most Likely to Define What Happened at Abu Ghraib as Torture: A Latent Content Analysis of International Media Coverage, 2004-2005

This paper is a continuation of a study that compared how the 2004 Abu Ghraib prison story was defined by journalists around the globe. I assert that due to social identity theory, vocal French opposition to the Iraq war, and a cultural memory of French torture practices in the Algerian War, French journalists were more likely than any other group to define what happened at Abu Ghraib as torture. I found that French journalists defined what happened at Abu Ghraib as torture in 73.5% of news articles, whereas other non-Anglo (German, Italian, and Spanish) journalists used the word torture in 66.1% of articles and American journalists used the word torture in just 19.2% of articles. Media coverage of Abu Ghraib also varied within France between the relatively right and left wing newspapers in France. The results do not indicate a convincing statistical relationship between a cultural memory of French torture practices in the Algerian War and the likelihood of defining what happened at Abu Ghraib as torture.