Brown University
International Relations

The Thesis

The IR honors thesis is not simply a long term paper. Unlike a term paper written as a course assignment, the thesis is the product of an effort equivalent to two courses taken over two semesters on a global issue of your choosing. The thesis also differs from a term paper in its depth and breadth. It is an original work of research and writing that is conceptualized within, and makes some contribution to, scholarly and policy debates in international relations. As such, the thesis deals with more complex ideas or problems, asks more probing questions, presents more detailed evidence, and generates more insightful conclusions than a typical term paper. Students must demonstrate mastery of a comprehensive body of academic literature, formulate a significant research problem, use research methods in an appropriate manner, analyze evidence, and produce original conclusions.

For most students, the thesis is the first real attempt at scholarly research and writing. The length of the thesis varies depending on the topic and approach, but the average is 130 double-spaced pages using standard font (12 point) and margins.

The IR Honors Program is interdisciplinary, enabling students to conduct research on a wide variety of topics and from many perspectives including historical and comparative work. IR Honors students have written theses on topics such as:

humanitarian intervention
democratic transitions
regional integration
international aid
ethnic conflict
human security
international trade
human rights
international governance
environmental issues
international political economy
international education
border violence
emerging markets

    Note: An honors thesis done in IR may not be used as a senior thesis in another department or program, nor may a senior thesis written for another concentration be submitted as an IR thesis.

    Previous IR Theses

    Access to theses and presentation slides limited to members of the Brown community. Hard copies are available at the IR Program Office.


    Naz Akyol Conditions of European Integration: The Salience of Religious Identity in the Case of Turkey’s EU Candidacy Abstract Presentation Slides
    Dolan Bortner Compliance in Context: Extralegal Determinants of Extradition in Chile and Japan Abstract Presentation
    Emily Nura Cunniffe Humanitarianism As Border: The Governance of Migration and the Reinforcement of Exclusion in Ceuta, Spain Abstract Presentation Slides
    Paula Martínez Gutiérrez Explaining Variations in Violence: Civil Allyship and Drug War Outcomes in China and Mexico Abstract
    Presentation Slides
    Sarah Stillman Reconceptualizing Foreign Aid Determination: The Influence of Migration on German and French Aid Allocation in Morocco Abstract
    Presentation Slides


    Watch the video of the 2016 Honors Conference
    Kevin Dhali Rethinking Security Policies: Determining Aggressiveness through Economic Preponderance and Strategic Partnerships—the Case of China Abstract Presentation Slides
    James Janison  Examining the International Political Economy of the Firm: The Dynamics of State Aggression in Georgian-Russian Trade 1996-2014 Abstract Presentation
    Aida Palma Chinese “Paisanos” in Guadalajara, Mexico: Rethinking South-South Migration Flows Abstract Presentation Slides


    Watch the video of the 2015 Honors Conference
    Yelena M. Bidé Social Movements and Processes of Political Change: The Political Outcomes of the Chilean Student Movement, 2011-2015 Abstract Presentation Slides
    Shelby L. Centofanti The Importance of Domestic Buy-In in Globalizing Social Policy: Origins Analysis of Conditional Cash Transfers in Latin America Abstract Presentation Slides
    Samuel A. Davidoff-Gore Compliance without Obligation: Examining State Responses to the Syrian Refugee Crisis Abstract Presentation Slides
    Guo Jin Daryl Eng International Institutions and State Leverage: IMF Program Design and Implementation in Argentina, 1991-2002 Abstract Presentation Slides
    Tomonobu Kumahira Modeling Internet-based Citizen Activism and Foreign Policy: The Islands Dispute between China and Japan Abstract Presentation Slides
    Sona Mkrttchian Macroeconomic Growth in the Aftermath of Sovereign Debt Default: Neoliberal Financial Infrastructure and Emerging Market Investment in Russia, 1999-2005 Abstract Presentation Slides
    Esmé M. Ricciardi Islamic Immigration, Sex Trafficking, and the Media:The Implications of Racialized and Gendered Trafficking Discourses in the Netherlands Abstract Presentation Slides
    Emma L. Strother Political Economy and Global Arts for Social Change: A Comparative Analysis of Youth Orchestras in Venezuela and Chile Abstract Presentation Slides


    Watch the video of the 2014 Conference
    Hannah H. Braun A Critical Approach to Energy Security: The Field of National Practice in Poland and Germany Abstract Presentation Slides
    Han Sheng Chia Colonialism, Self-Rule, and the Asian Tigers: Tracing the Drivers Behind 50 Years of Economic Success Abstract Presentation Slides
    Justin Crist Lee Challenging the Relationship between Institutions and Economic Integration: The Path to Cross-Strait Commerce Abstract Presentation Slides
    Galen Hunt The People Business: Revisiting the Function of Networks in the Practice of Human Smuggling Abstract Presentation Slides

    Youbin Kang

    Manual Intervention: A Path-dependency Analysis of the Influence of Values in Three Private Voluntary Initiatives

    Abstract Presentation Slides

    Hannah Koenig

    Negotiating Fortress Europe: A Discursive Approach to Italian Migration Policy and European Solidarity

    Abstract Presentation Slides

    Takeru Nagayoshi

    Mediating Response: The Conceptualization of Victimhood, Media, and Humanitarian Responses to Disasters in Haiti and Japan

    Abstract Presentation Slides

    Matthew Ryklin

    Trending Towards Democracy: What Explains Holdouts to Democracy Promotion?

    Abstract Presentation Slides


    Watch the video of the 2013 Honors Conference   
    Ana Carolina Barry Laso Explaining Social Inclusion Policies:
    Emergence Theory and the Case of Brazil (1988-2013)
    Abstract Presentation Slides
    Vanes Ibric The Selectivity and Inconsistency of Security Council-Authorized Humanitarian Intervention: Explaining Syria in Light of Libya Abstract Presentation Slides
    Jorge Tamames A Crisis of Consensus:Legacies of the Spanish Transition, 1975-2013 Abstract Presentation Slides


    Julia Sheehy Chan

    Government Strategy Behind Religious Conflict: Explaining Violence Against Christians in Egypt and Jordan

    Abstract Presentation Slides
    Sarah Wilbanks

    Cherry-Picked Humanitarian Interventions: 
    A Complexity Approach to Explaining Libya 2011

    Abstract Presentation Slides


    Samura Atallah Education, Critical Thinking, and Terrorism: The Reproduction of Global Salafi Jihad in Contemporary Egypt Abstract Presentation Slides
    Huong Dang

    Determinants of Postcolonial Migrants’ Transnational Participation in Countries of Origin: Vietnam and Algeria in France

    Abstract Presentation Slides
    Jacob Friedman Counternarratives in the War on Terror: Jihadi and Western Media in the 21st Century Abstract Presentation Slides
    Julien Philipp Sebastian Gaertner Modeling Energy Regimes: A Quantitative and Qualitative Study of Energy Choice Across Countries Abstract Presentation Slides
    Evan Rolfe Statehood for Whom? A Great Powers Model for Changes in Statehood Criteria Abstract Presentation Slides
    Ambika S. Roos Privatization and Protest: Water Activism Across Urban India Abstract  
    Shanoor Servai Explaining the Persistence and Decline of Separatist Movements: The Case of India Abstract Presentation Slides
    Jenna Stark Shifting Biases, Shifting Decisions: US Media Coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 2005-2010 Abstract Presentation Slides
    Katerina Wright Eyeing Prestige, Eluding Risk: Explaining European Union Security Missions and Operations Abstract Presentation Slides


    Sancho Accorsi: The Weaponization of the Civilian: Network-Centric Warfare, The Human Terrain System, and Postmodernist Critique of the 'Civilian' · View the abstract

    Jae Wan Ahn: From Developmental State to Welfare State? Defining the Political and Economic Transformations and Consequent Social Conflicts in South Korea · View the abstract

    Chantal Elizabeth Raff Berman (2010.5): Between Structure, Policy, and Human Security: Explaining Syrian and Lebanese Policy Responses Towards Iraqi Refugees · View the abstract

    Sasha David: Closing the Global Gender Gap: Explaining the Rise of Female Executives in Latin America · View the abstract

    Victoria Haddad-Salah: Defining the Borders of the Nation: Refugee Policy, Regime Security, and the Formation of National Identity in Jordan · View the abstract

    Chihiro Ikegami: Interstate Reconciliation: Memory and Apology in Germany and Japan · View the abstract

    Nandini Jayakrishna: A Critical Convergence: Gender Development Theory and the Practice of Women's Empowerment in the Indian Informal Sector · View the abstract

    Harrison Wittman Kreisberg: Of Bullets and Ballots: Reforming Radical Islamists Through Political Inclusion · View the abstract

    Andrew P. Nelson: The Constitutional Imperative: Establishing Domestic Legal Frameworks as the Foundation of International Law · View the abstract

    Erika Nyborg-Burch: Representing 'Deportable' Subjects: Constructions of Immigrant Identities in the Discourse on Removal in the United States · View the abstract

    Amelia Plant: Rape: A Crime Against Humanity. A Case Study of International Norm Formation · View the abstract

    Alexander H. T. Rothman: Japan as a Non-Nuclear State: Capability, Contradictions, and the Nuclear Taboo · View the abstract

    Claire Vergerio: The Enforcement Gap: Understanding Persisting Discrimination Against French and British Muslims in Employment · View the abstract


    Rebecca Binder: The Impact of Regional Blocs on Domestic Conflict: Re-Framing Catalonia’s ‘Autonomy Dialogue’  ·View the abstract

    Hannah Brennan: Patently Dependent: Pharmaceutical Patents, Pricing, and Industrialization in Brazil and Mexico ·View the abstract

    Alicia Bliss Gilbert: Mixed Messages from the West: Turkey’s Contrasting Relations with N.A.T.O. and the E.U. · View the abstract

    Camilla Hawthorne: Controlling the Border with Humanitarianism: Using Human Trafficking Policies and their Implementation to Regulate Migration in Italy · View the abstract

    Jonathan Hillman: U.S. Intentions, Russian Perceptions: NATO Enlargement and the Deterioration of U.S.-Russian Security Relations Since the Cold War · View the abstract

    Michael Jacobs: Decision-Making Strategies in a Globalized System: The Cases of Iraqi-Syrian Bilateral Relations 1982-2009 · View the abstract

    Noor NajeebIn Search of Palestinian Statehood: How Shifting Meanings of Sovereignty Contribute to the Failed Establishment of a Palestinian State · View the abstract

    Claudia SchwartzWarlords and Businessmen: Reconsidering Explanations for the Success and Failure of Violent Entrepreneurs in Liberia and Somalia · View the abstract

    Eliza Sweren-Becker: Socializing Human Rights Norms: How an International Organization Improved Human Rights in Argentina · View the abstract


    Daniel Altman: The Threat of Nuclear Terrorism and the Modern Form of Preventive War  ·  View the abstract

    Steven Butschi: Rejecting Europe? The 2005 French Referendum on the European Constitution  ·  View the abstract

    Katherine Campo: Taming the Dragon: The Evolution of Chinese Nonproliferation Policies ·  View the abstract

    Amy Chang: Know Thy Enemy, Know Thyself: An Argument for the Importance of Regime Type in Counterterrorism  · View the abstract

    Kelly Dreher: Environment as 'High Politics'? Explaining Divergence in the United States and European Union's Hazardous Waste Export Policies  ·  View the abstract

    Kyle Evans: Regional Identities in Norm Formation: The Case of the Responsibility to Protect  · View the abstract

    Adrienne Healey: Migrants on the Margin: Chile's Narrow Media Representation of its Female Peruvian Population  · View the abstract

    Ann Kidder: Mobile Mobilization: A Study of Mobile Phone Activism and City Culture  ·  View the abstract

    Johnny Lin: Do Good, Do Well, and Do Good Well: Delineating Best Practices for Business Involvements in Peacebuilding  ·  View the abstract

    Jessica Majno: In Pursuit of a Durable Peace: Peacebuilding and the Development of Civil Society in Bosnia-Herzegovina  ·  View the abstract

    Patrick Molitoris: Approaching South Atlantic Resolution? The Principle of Self-Determination in the Falkland Islands ·  View the abstract

    Nevena Radoynovska: Faces of Invisibility: Discursive Opportunity Structures, Protest, and Media Frames in Paris and Buenos Aires  ·  View the abstract

    Alyson Richards: 'No Cambio.' The European Union's Weak Influence on the Foreign Policies of its Member States  · View the abstract

    Kayleigh Scalzo: Made in the USA, Past and Present: Perceptions of Assimilation and Assimilability of Immigrants in the United States  ·  View the abstract

    Phoebe Sloane: Balancing the Global and the Local: Sesame Street and Foreign Aid in Egypt  ·  View the abstract

    Jane Smith: Choosing to Fail? A Comparative Study of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan  ·  View the abstract

    Jonah Stuart Brundage: A Culture of Modernity: The Everyday Practices of Diplomats and the Early Modern European States-System  ·  View the abstract

    Shyam Sundaram: The Weak as the Strong: Coalitions of Developing Countries in Multilateral Trade Negotiations  · View the abstract

    Dorothy Tegeler: Dismantling the Migrant-Refugee Dichotomy: The Case of Colombian Migration to Ecuador  ·  View the abstract

    Mark Tumiski: Wielding the 'Front Line Experience' as Securitizing Authority: The Japanese Self Defense Forces in Iraq 2004-2006  ·  View the abstract


    Mirza Refai Arefin: The Economics and Politics of Japanese Monetary Leadership in East Asia  ·  View the abstract

    Kate E. Brandt: Political Memory, Economic Interdependence, and Rivalry: Sino-Japanese Relations — Past, Present, and Future  ·  View the abstract

    Dan Fombonne: A New Form of Statecraft? EU Influence on Social Policy in Estonia, Poland, and the Czech Republic  · View the abstract

    Bethany Gerstein: Reconsidering Theories of Democratization and Ethnic Conflict: The Case of Rwanda  · View the abstract

    Shepherd Laughlin: Global China, Local Chinas: Modernization and Ethnic Identity in the People’s Republic  ·  View the abstract

    Owen McDougall: River Rivals: The Impact of Development Organizations on Ethnic Conflict over Water in the Senegal River and Aral Sea Basins  ·  View the abstract

    Zaineb Mohammed: Rendering Refugee Status:Factors Influencing Citizenship Policies in Jordan and Lebanon  ·  View the abstract

    Joanne Ji-eun Park: The Viability of Defensive States in the Post-Cold War: The US-Japan Alliance and Japan’s Approach to Military Normalization  ·  View the abstract

    Mia Psorn: Closing the Gender Gap? International Humanitarian Law and Sexual Violence in Bosnia-Herzegovina  · View the abstract

    Lydia Sizer: Implications of Blogging for Highly Divided, Developing Countries: More Clashes or Increased Understanding on an Individual Level?  ·  View the abstract

    Ben Veater-Fuchs: Cops and Cartels: The Relationship between Policing and Drug-Related Violence in Mexico  ·  View the abstract