International Studies - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

Receive updates for this collection

Conditional Opportunities: Conceptual Disparities and Practical Shortcomings of Conditional Cash Transfer Programs in Chiapas, Mexico

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-12-11
Abstract: 

Aimed at building human capital and alleviating poverty, Mexico’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program Oportunidades has been hailed a success with proponents citing a large body of statistical evidence as support for program. However, far less information is available on the quotidian experiences of the program from the point of view of beneficiaries and those involved in administrating the program and its related services. By looking into the personal experiences and life histories of beneficiaries and workers, we can gain insight into important issues that do not always arise in the statistical data or surveys that only directly address the program. For this project interviews with program recipients as well as official and non-official program employees were conducted in Comitan, Chiapas, Mexico. This major project suggests that the formal rhetoric utilized by participants and workers to discuss the program directly often contradicts their experiences; therefore, an investigation into participants’ life experiences and histories can augment or even challenge an understanding of the program based on statistical evidence or survey data. This project also contributes to a growing body of research based on qualitative methodology that explores the complexity of CCT programs through in depth interview and observation. What emerges is a motif of discrepancies: Discrepancies between the ideological underpinnings of the program and participants’ experiences of poverty, as well as discrepancies between program objectives and actual program functioning. As a result, a number of critiques arise regarding service quality, the efficacy of conditionality, and program sustainability in the face of proposed expansions.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Alexander Dawson
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.

Repairing the Irreparable: How Spirits Re-Shape the Field of Transitional Justice

Date created: 
2013-08-16
Abstract: 

Empirical studies that evaluate reparations programs from the perspective of survivors have received little attention in the literature. In contexts where the state has formally acknowledged the survivors of mass atrocities and has developed and established a reparations program to ‘repair’ the damage caused, the spirits that dwell in the socio-cultural realm express dissatisfaction with state institutions’ proposed solutions to the damage caused. Through a comparative literature analysis of the socio-cultural understandings of reparations among the Mayan Q’eqchi’ in Guatemala and the Acholi in northern Uganda, I suggest that forms of agency in the realm of the everyday which involves dreams, spirits and multiple temporalities, derived from cosmologies alternative to the Western norm, are essential to understanding how members of communities live side-by-side in post-conflict settings, and therefore, I argue that these efforts need to occupy a central space in the transitional justice agenda.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Onur Bakiner
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.

Responding to natural disasters with social media: a case study of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan

Author: 
Date created: 
2012-08-13
Abstract: 

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the use of social media during and after natural disasters, in order to determine if their use is advantageous for disaster response. A case study of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan is conducted, drawing on primary and secondary sources for content and document analysis. A social network approach, the In/Out/Seeker/Provider framework developed by Varda et al. (2009), is employed to analyze how different types of social networks used social media to seek and provide information and assistance. The results of the case study indicate that social media were used differently by four types of social networks, and while there were disadvantages to the use of social media, overall their use was advantageous for disaster response.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Nicole Jackson
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.

Vetoing the veto: voting reform and the United Nations security council

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-08-07
Abstract: 

The subject of reform within the United Nations Security Council locates itself as part of a larger academic discourse involving the concept of democratization within international organizations. This paper posits a little discussed strategy for reforming the veto system which calls for an override mechanism, or “vetoing the veto” (hereafter referred to as the ‘double-veto’). This proposal has its genesis in the “double majority voting” proposal of Major Keith L. Sellen, included in his thesis The United Nations Security Council Veto in the New World Order and presented to the United States Army in April 1992. From research undertaken thus far, the double-veto is an original formulation which argues for a system of vetoing unpopular vetoes in the Security Council, but with a re-vote that requires supportive votes from two Permanent Five members themselves.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Andrew Mack
Morten Jerven
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.

The relevance and transferability of design codes for slum upgrading - the case of Kisumu, Kenya

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013-08-16
Abstract: 

There is debate as to whether slum upgrading standards should be specific to each individual slum or common across all projects. To inform this debate, an exploratory, qualitative, comparative case study was undertaken, which involved transferring a slum upgrading design code designed for Accra, Ghana to analyze its potential applicability for Kisumu, Kenya. A slum upgrading design code is a made up of interrelated slum upgrading standards. The study determined that while design codes could be relevant across different slum settings, consideration of a variety of issues was needed before applying it to a specific context. With respect to the literature, the study’s findings support both the context- specific and common approaches to creating slum upgrading standards. Thus, slum upgrading programs should include context-specific standards in order to meet the specific needs of people living in slums and common standards to support the scaling-up and replication of successful slum upgrading projects.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Elizabeth Cooper
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.

Education and poverty in Kenya: a district level analysis

Date created: 
2013-08-13
Abstract: 

The main research question addressed in this paper is to assess whether theories in the education literature on enrollment, absenteeism and drop out in developing countries are consistent with district-level data in Kenya. One of the central issues that emerges is poverty, as it impacts both the supply and demand side of education, and is discussed as both a cause and consequence of lack of education. This project seeks to explore to what extent poverty is correlated with enrollment rates, attendance, dropouts, educational attainment, and literacy rates in district-level data in Kenya, also considering the impact of gender. In addition, this paper analyzes the reasons given for children not being enrolled in school by district. The findings in this paper suggest that: Kenya’s focus on access and Free Primary Education is well founded, promoting female education can be a means of alleviating poverty, and feeding programs and adult education may be successful ways to promote demand.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Morten Jerven
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.

Breaking bad: U.S.-Mexican counterdrug offensive, the Mérida initiative and beyond

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013-08-16
Abstract: 

In the study of U.S.-Mexico security cooperation, there exists a fundamental challenge to counterdrug operations; the underlying socioeconomic foundation of narco-trafficking. I argue that the historical and current practice of merely relying on military and law enforcement aid is not sufficient when it comes to addressing this socioeconomic foundation of narco-trafficking and transnational crime organizations (TCOs). Using a rational policy model, the analysis evaluates the Mérida Initiative’s effectiveness at inhibiting drug trafficking operations and decreasing drug-related violence. After demonstrating the ineffectiveness of current counterdrugs policies, this project evaluates three options for future U.S.-Mexico security cooperation utilizing the same criteria used to evaluate the Mérida Initiative. The prerogative of this project is to demonstrate the need for a comprehensive plan that both addresses bilateral security needs as well as the underlying social foundation of narco-trafficking in order to be successful in the ongoing Mexican Narco-War.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Jeffrey T Checkel
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.

The Role of the Akali Dal in the Punjab Crisis - 1981-86

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013-08-16
Abstract: 

In the study of federalism, scholars argue that federalization strengthens regional parties who subsequently promote ethnic conflict and secessionism. This paper seeks to reject the general applicability of this argument by examining a specific regional party in the Indian state of Punjab during the 1980s. The paper shows that parties must not be seen as homogeneous entities, but as heterogeneous groups in which different factions seek to take over leadership. Leadership had an important impact on the evolution of the Punjabi conflict. In the 1980s the party was dominated by moderate politicians who wanted to find a political solution to the conflict. However, over the years the moderates got weakened in the party, but widespread ethnic conflict and violence first occurred when the moderates were disempowered in the late 1980s. The paper shows that leadership and internal factional divisions of parties are important factors for analyzing ethnic conflict.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
Senior supervisor: 
Jeffrey T. Checkel
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.

The Barbadian success story: a case study of economic development in Barbados

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013-04-17
Abstract: 

Since independence, Barbados has enjoyed consistent levels of economic success beyond what is typical for a Small Island Developing State (SIDS). This case study investigates the causes of this success and identifies core principles which can be used as a model for SIDSs aiming to increase their economic growth. A combination of good governance; strong taxation treaties and government regulation; and a focus on niche luxury markets are found to have created the foundation of success in Barbados. These factors are shown to have led to the safe and stable environment on the island which has attracted investors and allowed economic activity to thrive. Following the analysis of the causes of economic success, the case study also evaluates the position of the Barbadian economy moving forward and highlights areas that require attention if growth is to continue.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Michael Howard
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.

A delayed response: analysis of the international response to the famine in Somalia

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-04-17
Abstract: 

This paper examines the causes for the delay in the humanitarian response to the famine in Somalia in 2011. The international community failed to respond to early warnings with actions that could have halted the spread of food insecurity and malnutrition. Using the case study of Somalia, this paper analyzes a variety of factors that could have contributed to the delayed response. The results of the case study indicate that the key factors were: donor fatigue and a lack of political interest, mismanagement by the United Nations and humanitarian organizations, and a lack of media attention. Alternative explanations, such as a lack of access and security concerns, and counter-terrorism legislation, are unworkable as causes of the delay primarily because these conditions continued to exist when donors did ultimately respond to the famine. This paper recommends that donors and humanitarian organizations work to better understand the benefits of early action.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Jeffrey Checkel
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School for International Studies
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.