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

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Schooling matters: a study of secondary school dropouts among low-income youth of Bangladesh

Date created: 
2012-04-19
Abstract: 

Past research has established a link connecting higher levels of education and development. Nonetheless, high incidence of dropout behavior persists in developing nations, and various organizations are focusing on reducing poor academic outcomes in both the primary and secondary levels. The present study employs a previously unused dataset—one that offers a higher level of homogeneity of household income and past student performance by considering the low-income youth of Bangladesh—to assess whether individual, household, or school characteristics are better indicators of student performance on exams. The results reveal that both household and school characteristics affect performance and the two most important factors appear to be whether a student resides in an urban or rural area and the school he/she attends.

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.

Binding constraints: the role of the army in Pakistan’s economic under-development

Date created: 
2012-04-25
Abstract: 

Pakistan army has ruled the country for the better part of its history. As a result, several scholars have contemplated its role in the economic under-development of the country. However, a better approach to understand the true influence of the army on the economic development would be the one that Bardhan has used to understand the distortions within the Indian economy. According to this approach, in post-colonial states, certain dominant proprietary classes compete for their share in the benefits the economy. As a result, the policy makers fail to pursue policies that challenge the status quo even though they are vital for the development of the economy. The case of the Pakistan economy is no different from that of India in this regard. Despite being the group in control, the army has failed to deter other dominant proprietary classes from their rent-seeking behaviour. In fact, the army actively encouraged the rent-seeking behaviour of certain classes in order to prolong its rule over the country. As a result, certain distortions emerged within the economy that hindered its growth and are directly responsible for its present poor state.

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.

Social exclusion in an organic farming community in Sao Paulo

Author: 
Date created: 
2012-04-11
Abstract: 

I have carried out an exploratory study about the labour conditions on organic farms in the developing world. Using qualitative methods, I conducted three months of research in an organic farming community in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I observed disharmony between the ambitions of educated workers from middle-class backgrounds and the ‘local’ workers. Those workers who were of middle-class descent had political and spiritual goals that failed to resonate with local workers. Middle-class workers were able to embrace their frugal living conditions, using it as a means to enhance their ‘moral identity’ by having sacrificed the privileges they had access to throughout their lives. Local workers, who were relatively disadvantaged in their economic opportunities, were not able to benefit from their work in the same way as workers of middle-class descent, resulting in local workers being discontent and terminating their employment at an unusually high rate.

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

The burden of rapid development: a case study on women’s economic empowerment in post-conflict Rwanda

Author: 
Date created: 
2012-04-23
Abstract: 

This project seeks to examine the root cause of gender barriers preventing the majority of women in Rwanda from benefiting from economic opportunities despite access to such opportunities and strong political support for gender equality. Drawing on a comparative analysis of quantitative data and qualitative research produced during fieldwork, this paper argues that, in the short-term at least, many women encounter unintended hardships as a result of the government’s progressive gender reforms. Traditional practices still define relationships between men and women and this is not compatible with constitutional guarantees of gender equality in Rwanda. There are considerable gender inclusive gaps in legislative reforms, policies do not adequately consider normative constraints and discriminatory customary practices persist increasing women’s work burden and susceptibility to gender-based violence. Deeply entrenched patriarchal norms make it difficult to effectively implement gender reforms and have fostered resistance from some groups that feel their rights are being diminished.

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.

Gender equality, the state and civil society: A comparative case study of Rwanda and South Africa

Author: 
Date created: 
2012-04-19
Abstract: 

This paper examines the evolution of gender equality as manifested and protected by the state in both Rwanda and South Africa since 1994. As a liberal democracy, South Africa should, in theory, allow for the influence of citizens in policy making and be held accountable for its shortcomings regarding its commitment to gender equality and ending violence against women. Evidence reveals that the South African state falls far short of these ideals, particularly in its relationships with women’s organizations in civil society. Conversely, the Rwandan state, under authoritarian leadership, demonstrates significantly greater commitment to gender equality, and civil society groups report positive relationships with the state. Four factors explain this disparity: the context of each country’s political transition, the origins and ideology of the ruling party, the extent and type of state corruption and neopatrimonialism, and the role of civil society in a semi-authoritarian state versus a liberal democratic state.

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

Charm of the Dragon: exploring China’s relationship with Africa and its implications for resource security, soft power and development

Date created: 
2011-12-14
Abstract: 

This paper explores the relationship between China and Africa within the context of China’s resource security endeavours. It focuses on Chinese investment and soft power in Africa, and how they connect with African development. Is China in Africa to build mutually-beneficial relationships or to extract resources? Connected to this, are China’s soft power initiatives contributing to African development, or are they merely incentives for African states to do business with China? By examining Chinese soft power, the motivations and actions of both Chinese and African players, the author concludes that Africa is benefiting from Chinese investment, though to what extent varies based on the country. Conversely, the author finds little evidence that China’s soft power initiatives are supporting country development. Finally, the Sudan and Zambia case studies illustrate how Africans are far from passive actors, as external and internal pressures are slowly changing how China does business in Africa.

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.

Determining the vulnerability of women to the effects of climate change: A study on the economic, social, and political implications of climate change on the women of three rural communities in the Valles Cruceños region of Bolivia

Author: 
Date created: 
2011-12-14
Abstract: 

The few climate change studies that have been done in the Valles Cruceños region of Bolivia have mainly focused on investigations of climate change impacts on the natural system. Adaptation and mitigation measures, therefore, addressed only the biophysical vulnerability of the system. This preliminary research on three rural communities in the Valles Cruceños region explores the social construction of women‘s vulnerability to the effects of climate change. Formal and informal institutions determine and distribute entitlements, and a system‘s level of vulnerability or its capacity to cope with external stressors is defined by its ability to access these entitlements. Although all community members are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, women in particular, have specific roles and responsibilities in the household and community levels that disproportionately affect their resilience to shocks and stresses. I argue that the vulnerability of women to the effects of climate change in the Valles Cruceños region of Bolivia can be attributed to the absence of support from formal institutions and the presence of constraints from informal institutions.

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

Essays on international development: Natural resources and development: Past, present, and future -and- What makes cooperatives work? Social dynamics and international development

Author: 
Date created: 
2011-12-16
Abstract: 

Essay 1) What role do natural resources play in development? In the past, societies were dependent on their immediate natural environments for survival. As industrialization and globalization took hold, however, resources became more than just a means of subsistence. In today’s world, resources are both mobile and valuable, which can have positive and negative impacts on development. Looking to the future, the potential for resource scarcity to have a significant impact on international development cannot be overlooked. Potential approaches to managing resource scarcity and intergenerational equity must therefore be considered. Essay 2) Cooperatives should be autonomous and independent from external interference. However, in the context of international development, would-be cooperators often lack the necessary skills and resources required to establish and operate successful cooperative businesses. This essay explores this paradox by outlining the social dynamics at play in cooperatives and suggesting how international institutions and governments can aid the formation of cooperatives while still maintaining the most important aspects of spontaneous cooperation.

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

The impact of civil war on gender roles: A Somaliland case study

Date created: 
2011-12-14
Abstract: 

This MA Project advances an explanation for the evolving relationships between Somaliland men and women following the civil war in 1991 and the subsequent peace-building process. Drawing from 28 interviews and one month of field research , it develops a case study of the gender roles in Sheikh, Somaliland. In this project I detail my qualitative ethnographic research exploring the roles of men and women in a village in the Somali highlands. I will argue that, while civil war has resulted in a movement towards relative gender equality, it has also forced women out of necessity to adopt duties that were traditionally considered ‘men’s work’ while still maintaining their own responsibilities. As long as the latter continues, I suggest there will be stagnation in the development of Somaliland. This paper begins with a discussion of the pre-war social structure governing men and women. The analysis will then discuss past and current gender roles in Somaliland. Using these two time frames I will show how the Somali Civil War has shaped the status quo and permanently altered the fabric of Somali culture.

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.

The role of host countries in diaspora-driven development: Canadian policy and practice

Author: 
Date created: 
2011-12-06
Abstract: 

Current research on diaspora and development has two major gaps: 1) inquiry focuses primarily on the potential of remittances and investment and overlooks the broader impacts of diaspora-driven development; and 2) the diaspora-development nexus is often considered a dyadic relationship of diaspora and their ‘home’ countries and overlooks the role of developed ‘host’ nations. Diaspora-driven development occurs when transnational networks forged between their ‘host’ society and ‘home’ country/place of attachment, facilitate economic, knowledge, social, and political interchange. Becoming diasporic means acquiring the agency (the awareness, commitment, and attachments to a wider community) to engage in development beyond the maintenance of familial ties and transmission of remittances. This agency requires attainment of a certain level of settlement, success, and fluency (in education, employment, integration, etc) in the host society. Various aspects of Canadian policy in regard to diasporic potential to positively impact both home and host countries are discussed.

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