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:

  • Marielle Saums, DC '13: Local government and NGO Impacts on Rural and Urban Water System Development in India
    Advisor:
    Prof. John Soluri
  • 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:

  • Kate Fisch, DC '14: Resolving the Kashmir Conflict: The Role of the United States
    Advisor:
    Prof. Nico Slate
    Abstract:
    The conflict in the region of Jammu and Kashmir (here, simply “Kashmir”) in South Asia has been described as one of the most militarized conflicts in the world. Initially the subject of a territorial dispute between newly independent India and Pakistan, Kashmir has been at the center of three Indo-Pakistani wars since 1947, the Sino-Indian war of 1962, and countless reported acts of terrorism. Conflict and violence in the region is ongoing, and citizens of Kashmir have increasingly participated in pro-separatist groups, domestically driven insurgency movements, and allegedly, in international terrorist organizations. The intensity of the Kashmir conflict coupled with the international stakes surrounding its resolution call for a distinct change of pace in the peace process. While current U.S. relationships with India and Pakistan are somewhat strained, the presently unsuccessful peace process in South Asia might call for U.S. intervention in order to keep talks moving forward. In addition to illustrating the multifaceted nature of the Kashmir problem, this research project will attempt to design a role for the U.S. going forward, and address both the foreign policy interests at stake and the challenges that would accompany American involvement. 
  • Marcy Held, DC '13: (Spring 2013-Fall 2013): On the Cover of Rolling Stone: Photographs, Politics, and the Public
    Advisor: Prof. Nico Slate
    Abstract:
    The world that we inhabit is saturated with photographic images. We use photographs to do everything from recording and sharing personal memories to learning about events that take place halfway across the globe. Photographic images, within certain contexts, give us certain types of information. When we see a photograph on the cover of a newspaper, in a friend's online photo album, in an advertisement on a billboard, or hanging on a gallery wall, we follow a set of cues that aid our interpretations of each image. But what happens when an image is used in a context that is widely interpreted as a "violation" of the purposes that image can and cannot fill? More importantly, how does this situation arise and in what ways is the use of a particular photograph considered a "violation"? Using the August 1, 2013 cover of Rolling Stone magazine featuring the young "Boston bomber" indictee Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and the ensuing public outcry as a case study, I will explore how photographic meaning is navigated and interpreted, as well as the agency of the public as image consumers in a society that heavily utilizes social media.

    As part of my thesis project, I am organizing a gallery show of photographs that I made while traveling abroad this past spring in India that will take place at Carnegie Mellon this November.
  • Rachel Kuhn, DC '14: Extreme Beauty: Body Image in German and American Popular Media
    Advisor:
    Prof. Gabi Eichmanns
    Abstract: 
    Popular media has long been a prominent provider of information about beauty ideals, especially for women and girls. However, the push to achieve these beauty ideals may be becoming increasingly extreme. In both Germany and the United States, genres that promote taking extreme measures to enhance attractiveness have crept into popular media alongside the longstanding genres of chick lit and television soap operas. The latter genres, while often obsessed with a certain concept of female attractiveness, typically provide little more than a reflection of mainstream body image conceptions. In contrast, recent reality shows and series suggest that desire for beauty should warrant plastic surgery or self-harming behavior. This paper is a cross-cultural study that analyzes representations of beauty in Germany and the United States. It will examine German and American chick lit novels, soap opera and reality television series, and documentaries in order to make conclusions about the beauty ideals projected by popular media in each country and to draw comparisons between these representations of beauty.

  • Richard Stuver, DC '14: Three Healthy Cows- Evaluating Development Programs through a Participatory Framework: Biogas Technology and the Kamalnayan Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation
    Advisor:
    Prof. Nico Slate
    Abstract:
    The measurement of quality of life is a difficult task approached with differing theories and methodologies. Within international development, these theories vary with regard to their implicit assumptions and scale. At times, this leads to a disparity between the policymaking that occurs within high-level organizations and the practices involved in local development initiatives. Through this project, I will be working with the Kamalnayan Jamnalal Bajaj Foundation, a rural development organization that is active in hundreds of villages surrounding Mahatma Gandhi's last ashram in central India. This project seeks to unite the exploration of theoretical questions about measuring improvement in quality of life with an evaluation of the Bajaj Foundation's development practices in Wardha District, India. 'Scalingdown' theory and 'scaling-up' local practice in this way will shed light on the direct impact on the quality of life of the individual that results from the decision-making process at varying levels. A multi-disciplinary approach consisting of methods drawn from history, policy analysis, statistical methods, and decision analysis will be used. The core contribution of this project is an executive report to the Bajaj Foundation detailing the key findings of the analysis of their development projects, with specific recommendations that will assist in their efforts to empower the local community and improve quality of life. Alongside the report will stand a separate academic text resulting from the analysis of the Bajaj Foundation's work, meant to explore larger questions about measurement and quality of life in international development.