Political Science - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Leveraging Information as Power: America’s Pursuit of Cyber Security

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-11-28
Abstract: 

Acquiring and exploiting information is key to remaining competitive in cyberspace. Security seesaws between informational advantage and vulnerability and America, as all other cyber-powers, must consistently tip the seesaw towards the former. Optimally managing the short term vulnerabilities of a cyber advantage will best produce a long-term net gain in security for the US. The Internet’s lax architecture favours offensive over defensive information seeking. Finding and buying zero-days supplements America’s security innovations to maintain a deployable cyber arsenal. Cyber deterrence is problematic so America relies on resilience to manage cyber attacks. Defence through attack absorption offers a better strategy than deterrence per se. Strategically sharing capabilities enables the United States to influence Five Eyes intelligence priorities while enabling its global cyber operations. Amassing an information advantage thus enables America to leverage information as power to enhance its net security posture.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Alexander Moens
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.A.

Understanding the Dynamics of Political Dysfunction: A Comparative Analysis of Legislatures in Canada and the United States

Date created: 
2014-12-02
Abstract: 

This paper examines the primary categories of dysfunction in the Canadian and American legislatures. The central purpose of this comparative analysis is to explore the range of phenomena associated with legislative dysfunction in both the Canadian Parliament and the United States Congress. The Canadian and American cases are compared for the insights that two different institutional settings and political cultures can provide into the emergence of an interplay among dimensions of dysfunction. My intention is to fill the void of thorough literature on this subject, most specifically in Canada, by categorizing the wide scope of sources of legislative dysfunction into three main classifications - Institutional, Ideological, and Sociological. Two central findings emerge from the analysis. First, the differentiation of institutional mechanisms and legislative processes between Canada and the United States produces distinct sources of national-level legislative dysfunction. Second, despite these institutional differences, the two nations largely share ideological and sociological sources of dysfunction. Evidence from the literature suggests that despite utilizing two distinct systems of government, the two countries exhibit some noteworthy similarities in this regard. The analysis will make use of many sub-variables and contemporary issues that are present in the legislatures in order to illustrate the extent to which dysfunction persists. After providing background and justification for these three main categories, I examine how they interact, and their effect on the functionality of the legislatures in both nations.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
David Laycock
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.A.

Understanding the tension between Arctic environmental protection and the Canadian government's approach to offshore oil and gas development

Date created: 
2014-08-19
Abstract: 

The balance between resource development and environmental protection has always been a difficult one. Nowhere is this more true than in the Arctic, a vital ecosystem whose future is at the forefront of climate change. While Canada has committed itself to Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) as the system through which the state will manage and protect its fragile northern land and seascapes, the extent to which this commitment is upheld by the current federal government is unknown. This research project will establish that Canada has only developed and incorporated its EBM system, within its framework for offshore oil and gas development, to a minimal extent. Such a baseline will be established through the assessment of relevant Canadian legislation and regulations along the North Pacific Marine Science Organization’s (PICES’s) typology on EBM. Environmental, political and economic variables at play in the Arctic will also be considered to reveal the Conservative government’s active efforts to prepare, as well as facilitate, the future development of resource projects in the North. Accordingly, this research project will shed further light on the inherent tension that lies at the heart of resource development and environmental protection.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Marjorie Griffin Cohen
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.A.

Kingdon's Multiple Streams Model and the Window of Opportunity for Improved Aboriginal Employment and Skills Development Outcomes

Date created: 
2014-08-15
Abstract: 

A rapidly growing and relatively young Aboriginal population in Canada has renewed concerns regarding the severe poverty experienced by this community. Statistics Canada estimates the Aboriginal population in Canada could reach between 1.7 million and 2.2 million by 2031. As a nation, Canadian history offers much to celebrate and be proud of, although the mistreatment of Aboriginal peoples remains a shameful chapter. Moreover, a tenuous relation between the federal government and Aboriginal Canadians has resulted in poor policy outcomes. Aboriginal peoples are grossly under-represented in skilled trades employment sectors and the dismal rate of unemployment for Aboriginal peoples at both the national and provincial levels far exceeds that of the non-Aboriginal population. Therefore, comprehensive policy proposals to address some of the hardships and challenges experienced by Aboriginal peoples and their respective communities are urgently needed. In this study, the Multiple Streams model presented by Professor John Kingdon is utilized as the framework to assess whether the timing is suitable for substantial policy innovation concerning Aboriginal employment and skills development to mitigate the problems they face. According to Kingdon, the convergence of multiple streams consisting of problems, politics, and policies may indicate the opening of a policy window. Such a window presents an opportunity for policy entrepreneurs to push a policy proposal that addresses a particular problem higher on the policy agenda. The application of Kingdon’s model will reveal that natural resources can provide Aboriginal peoples a ladder for economic development, and there is a precise opportunity for policy innovation to facilitate improved employment and skills training outcomes for Aboriginal peoples. Appropriate policy initiatives in this window of opportunity could well offer Aboriginal peoples a remarkable opportunity to shift their overall socio-economic status from one of destitution to prosperity. However, there is reason for ample scepticism based on the deeply-rooted mistrust of some Aboriginal communities towards resource development, particularly in light of ongoing land claims issues in Canada. While resource development may not be relevant to, or supported by, some Aboriginal communities, many would benefit significantly.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Andrew Heard
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.A.

Improving Public Secondary Education in Brazil: Opening Doors and Breaking the Cycle

Date created: 
2013-11-04
Abstract: 

While victories have been claimed at the primary and tertiary levels in recent years by successive governments, reflecting their shift to social issues, Brazilian public high schools are still far from receiving adequate policy attention and funding. As a result of the poor quality and quantity of public secondary education, the bulk of the population (of lower socio-economic status) is underrepresented at the university level. This study examines — both on theoretical and empirical grounds — whether the education policies implemented during the administration of Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva (2003–2010) were founded on the needs of students and appropriate for the obstacles at hand. It discusses the literature on factors that affect educational outcomes. It then presents findings from the case study conducted in the state of Goiás. Lastly, based on the quantitative and qualitative information collected, policy recommendations are put forth, keeping in mind the national goals of moving forward as a nation through providing its citizens the necessary tools to thrive. In addition to the potential to improve the national economy, enhancing the quality of the education offered in public high schools could serve to improve the ability of students of lower socio-economic status in being admitted into universities, increasing their life-chances and the possibility of higher incomes – ultimately, breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty and moving Brazil forward in the face of the knowledge economy.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Anil Hira
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Resolving the paradox of location in a global economy: cluster facilitation and network management in the biotechnology sector

Date created: 
2014-01-23
Abstract: 

Cluster policy is at the crossroads as governments widely support the local agglomeration of companies and research institutes, but success or failure seems arbitrary for those ‘Silicon Somewheres’. Faced with limited proof of ‘what works’ for clusters, frustration is spreading among policy makers and stakeholders. The study offers a comparative analysis of high-technology clusters around the globe with the objective of finding a generalizable mechanism for making cluster policy successful. Interviews conducted with officials, researchers and industry stakeholders in Chicago, Copenhagen, Singapore and Vancouver reveal that networks have found a novel way of cluster support by having a ‘facilitator’. This network management institution or individual is able to connect and support cluster stakeholders while simultaneously linking them to government with the goal of better tailored policy and ultimately more successful innovative processes. The dissertation offers a new theoretical framework for investigating the facilitation mechanism based on intersecting science and technology policy, network management and innovation systems literature. The study highlights the fact that the key to success is the creation of capacity for networking (collaborative capacity) and identifying useful knowledge, knowledge gaps and future developments (absorptive capacity) rather than focusing solely on output. The central findings are threefold: Not only does facilitation exist in different parts of the world, it also enhances performance and varies depending on location. The variations include a government- and stakeholder-funded model in most European countries, an independent model in North America and finally, a government-financed model in Asia.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Michael Howlett
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

High Frequency Trading, the SEC, and the Legacy of the Flash Crash

Date created: 
2013-12-13
Abstract: 

High-frequency trading (HFT) is a significant evolution in financial markets which, combined with the Flash Crash of May 6th 2010, has been the impetus for many calls for regulation in the United States. This paper addresses the question regulation in two ways. First, is a review of the literature on the effects of high-frequency trading on the equities markets. The conclusion drawn from this review is that high-frequency trading generally improves quality (HFT passivity) but carries the potential to have negative effects during times of abnormal market behaviour (HFT aggression). This is used to inform an evaluation schema for the various regulatory proposals. Second, this schema is applied to various types of proposals for the regulation of high-frequency trading. The conclusion of this paper is that order-submission restrictions based upon price range are the best tool for promoting passivity among high-frequency traders while limiting the potential for aggressive behaviour.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Anil Hira
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.A.

Selective Incentives and the Creation of the U.S. Federal Reserve System

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-11-15
Abstract: 

There has yet to be reached a decisive consensus on the primary motivations behind the creation of the U.S. Federal Reserve. The debate typically revolves around the question of the main beneficiaries, whether it was a small elite of national bankers, or society as a whole. In other words, was the Fed created to redistribute wealth, in the form of rents, to this financial elite, or was it created to provide a public good, i.e. a stable monetary framework, the benefits of which would be enjoyed widely? By clarifying the conditions leading to the creation of the Fed, and identifying those who benefited or were harmed by it, we can progress towards a resolution of the rent-seeking vs. public good debate. The conclusion is that a third explanation, selective incentives, will incorporate much of the two preceding explanations and most accurately account for the creation of the Federal Reserve.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Laurent Dobuzinskis
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.A.

Mobile phones versus water provision in Africa: What explains the variation in the access and the levels of investment?

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-11-21
Abstract: 

The objective of this exploratory study is to explore the differences in the regulatory frameworks of two African countries, Ghana and Kenya, related to water and the telecommunications industry. The most important factors influencing the willingness to invest in both industries and the percentage change in access to services have been identified and evaluated. The project contributes to the understanding of the contrast between the comparatively high rates of investment and substantial progress made in cellular service provision on one hand, and of the comparatively lower levels of investment and slower incremental change in the access to clean water on the other. The purpose is to ask whether it is possible to learn from the achievements made in the ICT sector in order to enhance the efforts in provision of services in water sector (and vice versa), both in terms of increasing investments and increasing access to improved water sources.

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

What matters? exploring youth political participation in Western democracies

Date created: 
2013-09-05
Abstract: 

Researchers examining youth political participation largely fall within one of two camps: the first argues that youth participation is in decline, the second that this youngest demographic of voters still participates, but in new and unconventional ways. I aim to advance the academic debate on youth political participation by identifying and categorizing prevalent forms of youth political participation, both online and offline. By doing so, I also aim to contribute insights about the potential to influence youth political participation by identifying and examining relationships between the prevalence of participatory acts and the presence of particular features of participation. I address the extent to which, and how, youths are politically engaged both online and offline in western democracies. In order to do so I investigate dimensions of participation – including whether acts are interactive and the amount of resources they require – to discover whether they relate to the likelihood that youths will participate in political activity. I then examine existing survey reports to determine the prevalence of various forms of youth political participation in three Western democracies: the United States (U.S.), Australia and Canada. In doing so, I illustrate that youths are politically active but have moved away from traditional political activities, and instead seek out alternative avenues for participation, especially online.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Eline de Rooij
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: Department of Political Science
Thesis type: 
(Research Project) M.A.