Thesis-Global Studies - Carnegie Mellon University

Thesis

Students may choose to pursue a senior thesis in Global Studies as one of their 9 unit electives.  Students should do so by arrangement with Global Studies faculty.

Students may also consider applying for the Dietrich College Senior Honors Thesis Program. The Senior Honors Program is an opportunity for the college's most accomplished and promising seniors to work independently, with the close guidance of a faculty member, in the design and completion of a year-long scholarly or creative project. Students should investigate eligibility requirements and application deadlines.

The following Global Studies graduates have completed a Dietrich College Senior Honors Thesis:

  • Jena Tegeler, SHS '13: Aesthetic Positioning: Locating Global Feminisms in Five Japanese Artists
    Advisor: Prof. Yoshihiro Yasuhara
  • Katy Wells, DC '12: Decision Making and Control in American Birth
    Advisor: Prof. Karen Faulk
  • Ema Woodward, DC '13: How the European Union and its Economic Crisis have influenced Contemporary French Nationalism and Immigration Policy
    Advisor: Prof. Rick Maddox


The following Global Studies seniors are currently pursuing a Dietrich College Senior Honors Thesis:

  • Juan Acosta, DC '15: Sugar: More Than Just A Commodity for Brazil and Cuba
    Advisor: Prof. Karen Faulk
    Abstract: Sugar is a precious resource that assisted in catapulting the Latin American region as a significant territory for centuries. Two potent sugar producers that emerged from colonial times were territories known today as Brazil and Cuba. These countries social dynamic were directly impacted by their place as sugar cultivators. For instance, these territories received an overwhelming number of slaves and abolished slavery later than most Western Hemispheric countries. This study explores the question: What cultural parallels exist today between Cuba and Brazil and how are they impacted by each country's respective relationship with sugar cultivation? This paper seeks to examine the trajectory sugar has taken in both country's history as a way to inform future policy in both countries.

  • Emily Etzel, DC '15: The Current Quebec Separatist Debate and its Influence on the First Nations of Quebec
    Advisor: Prof. Karen Faulk
    Abstract: Through a Senior Honors Thesis, I am interested in exploring how culture and the relationship between the indigenous First Peoples of Québec and the Québécois of French descent influence the current Québec separatist debate.  To fully understand this influence, I will take an anthropological, historical, and linguistic approach, in order to distill and analyze the different structures of culture present that exemplify the influence each culture exerts on the other.  This project will look at the debates and relationships currently occurring between key players such as the Parti Québécois, the Assembly of First Nations of Québec and Labrador, and individual First Nations such as the Cree and the Inuit.  Furthermore, as context to the current debates, I will look for various cultural markers such as language, food, ritual practices, and artistic expressions for both the indigenous populations of Québec and the Québécois, in order to analyze the similarities and differences and deduce the patterns of influence present. Through the use of several analytic concepts including culture, multiculturalism, nationalism, ethnicity, and conflict, I hope to discover the cultural influence of each culture on the other, and infer the trajectory of this relationship as it pertains to the separatist debates.  My methods will include research through books, scholarly journals, and news articles, as well as analysis and interpretation of my findings.

  • Natalie Giannangeli, DC '15: #InstaCuba: Viewing Cuban Identity through the Tourist Lens
    Advisor:  Prof. Therese Tardio
    Abstract: Throughout history, Western tourists have fetishized the people and culture of their non-Western destinations. Tourists have traveled to Latin America imagining scenes of tropical beaches and “exotic-looking” women. Although tourism in Cuba has its specific history and complexities, it is a part of this broader narrative of tourism across Latin America. Prior to 1959, Cuba attracted more tourists than any other Caribbean island, as the Cuban government and travel agencies presented the island as an exotic paradise for tourists’ self-indulgent pleasures. However, the Cuban Revolution in 1959 put an end to the gambling and prostitution that attracted many tourists. It was not until the fall of the Soviet bloc in the 1990s that the government turned to tourism as a way to generate capital and attract hard currency quickly. Realizing tourists’ desires to see a romanticized ideal of the “last socialist country”, the Cuban government promotes celebratory images of the Revolution alongside the capitalist excesses of sex from the 1950s and tropical paradise that once characterized the tourist attractions on the island. American cars and street murals of Che Guevara are common appearances in the images that tourists post on the  social media platform, Instagram. While tourists post pictures of destinations throughout Latin America on social media, the case of tourist social media in Cuba is vastly different from other destinations. A lack of infrastructure and government restrictions makes consistent access to the Internet difficult for Cubans. On the island, tourist hotels have Internet service available for purchase, but the service is too costly for the majority of Cuban nationals. Most Cubans remain without the ability to use and contribute to new interactive web spaces, such as Instagram. Therefore, foreigners control the Cuban presence on this social media platform. The images that tourists choose to share perpetuate the idea of Cuba as the last socialist paradise: a representation the Cuban state desires in order to continue to attract tourists and to preserve the image of the survival of socialist ideals, despite an increasingly capitalistic reality. Previous research examines social networks like Twitter and Facebook’s impact on the tourist industry, but the role of Instagram in the industry has not had the same attention. This paper will explore the intricacies of the identity of Cuba and its people on Instagram.

  • Alexandria Hernandez, DC '15:Social and Cultural Factors that Perpetuate Educational Stratification in the United States and India
    Advisor: Prof. Nico Slate
    Abstract: The past century has been characterized by a massive worldwide educational expansion. Increasingly, complex economies demand a better-educated workforce. Moreover, in a globalizing world culture, nation-states – such as the United States and India – are expected to take over the duty of educating citizens. However, whether or not educational expansion is sufficient to reduce educational inequalities remains an issue facing many national governments.  Research on educational stratification suggests that inequality in education based on ethnicity and caste continues and sometimes even widens in spite of educational growth. And yet, the literature on why these inequalities persist or even widen in spite of increases in overall educational levels remains poorly developed. To fill this void of information, I seek to investigate the social and cultural factors that perpetuate educational stratification in the United States and India.
  • Chloe Lula, DC '15: Contrast of Prescription Drug Abuse and Hepatitis C Prevention
    Advisor: Prof. Caroline Acker
    Abstract:
  • Kristine Swarts, DC '15: Youth Perception of HIV/AIDS in Morocco
    Advisor: Prof. Karen Faulk
    Abstract:  For my senior thesis, I will be looking into the youth perception of HIV/AIDS in Morocco amongst college students. According to the Joint United Nation’s Programme on AIDS, HIV/AIDS has increased by 50% in Muslim countries over the past 10 years.  The taboo surrounding the disease has led to a lack of testing among Moroccans and about 80% of HIV/AIDS cases may go undiagnosed. This is why this is an important topic of research. I will conduct my research on a college-aged group of students within universities in Morocco as they can give insight to where the country is headed because they are future leaders of the country. I will conduct this research with an Internet survey in both English and French to multiple universities in Morocco, such as Mohammad V University in Rabat-Sale and University of Al Karaouine in Fes. In addition, I will research historical data and past and present demographics to gain even more insight of the increase of the epidemic throughout the years and how this has affected the perception of college-aged students.