Watson Institute at 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:

femicide
humanitarian intervention

democratic transitions
regional integration
international aid
ethnic conflict
energy security
statehood

migration
human security
international trade
human rights
international governance
media
extradition

environmental issues
democracy promotion
international political economy
international education
border violence
refugees
terrorism
emerging markets
human smuggling
soft power

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.


2018

Abstracts and Presentations
Watch the video of the 2018 Thesis Conference [ThursdayFriday]
Student Thesis Title Advisor Dept.
Ginevra Maria Sole Bruno The Effects of Terrorism on State Governance: Armed Struggle in Italy, 1968-1988 David Kertzer ANTH
Vaughn Campbell Diplomatic Approaches to International Watercourses: Analyzing Chinese Policy on the Mekong and Brahmaputra Rivers, 1997-2018 Nina Tannenwald POLS/WIIS
Margot Cohen The Language of Violence: Gender, Murder, and the Patriarchal State--A Feminist Case Study of Femicide in Chile, 2007-2017 Nina Tannenwald POLS/WIIS
Helen Gerstenfeld Abreu Shifting from an Extractive Growth Model to an Innovative Growth Model: A Comparison of Israel and Chile Mark Blyth POLS/WIIS
Arundhati Ponnapa Violent Conflict, Nation-Building, and Language Policy Formation: A Comparative Study of India and Indonesia Prerna Singh POLS
Tamara Upfal The Influence of Societal Dynamics on Impeachment: The Interrelated Forces of the Brazilian Upper-Middle Class on the Removal of Dilma Rousseff James Green HIST

2017

Abstracts and Presentations
Watch the video of the 2017 Honors Conference
Student Thesis Title Advisor Dept.
Naz Akyol Relationship Status Complicated: Turkey’s EU Membership Prospects Nina Tannenwald POLS/WIIS
Dolan Bortner Legacy of the Last Samurai: Alberto Fujimori and the Conditions Under Which Liberal Democracies Extradite Claudia Elliott INTL/WIIS
Emily Cunniffe (Dis)placing Humanitarianism: Interactions at the European Borders of Ceuta, Spain Anila Daulatzai ANTH
Julia Ladics FDI and Development: A Comparison of Local Outcomes and Responses Under Chinese FDI vs Under Western FDI Rob Blair POLS/WIIS
Ryan Lee Haiti’s Future: Neoliberal Development, Political Liberation, or Both? Paget Henry AFRI & SOC
Paula Martinez Gutierrez Ongoing Drug Wars in China and Mexico: Causes for Militarized Strategies Rahul Mediratta WIIS
Sarah Stillman Beyond (Physical) Borders: A Study of EU Involvement in Moroccan Nonprofits David Lindstrom SOC

2016

Abstracts and Presentations
Watch the video of the 2016 Honors Conference
Student Thesis Title Advisor Dept
Kevin Dhali Rethinking Security Policies: Determining Aggressiveness through Economic Preponderance and Strategic Partnerships—the Case of China Lyle Goldstein Naval War College
James Janison Examining the International Political Economy of the Firm: The Dynamics of State Aggression in Georgian-Russian Trade 1996-2014 John Friedman ECON
Aida Palma Chinese “Paisanos” in Guadalajara, Mexico: Rethinking South-South Migration Flows Matt Gutmann ANTH



2015


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

Claudia Elliott INTL/WIIS

2014

Abstracts and Presentations
Watch the video of the 2014 Conference
Student Thesis Title Advisor Dept
Hannah H. Braun A Critical Approach to Energy Security: The Field of National Practice in Poland and Germany Michael Kennedy SOC
Han Sheng Chia Colonialism, Self-Rule, and the Asian Tigers: Tracing the Drivers Behind 50 Years of Economic Success Ashutosh Varshney POLS
Justin Crist Lee Challenging the Relationship between Institutions and Economic Integration: The Path to Cross-Strait Commerce Ed Steinfeld POLS
Galen Hunt The People Business: Revisiting the Function of Networks in the Practice of Human Smuggling David Lindstrom SOC
Youbin Kang Manual Intervention: A Path-dependency Analysis of the Influence of Values in Three Private Voluntary Initiatives Rick Locke POLS/WIIS
Hannah Koenig Negotiating Fortress Europe: A Discursive Approach to Italian Migration Policy and European Solidarity Nina Tannenwald POLS/WIIS
Takeru Nagayoshi Mediating Response: The Conceptualization of Victimhood, Media, and Humanitarian Responses to Disasters in Haiti and Japan Carrie Spearin SOC
Matthew Ryklin Trending Towards Democracy: What Explains Holdouts to Democracy Promotion? Linda Cook POLS

2013

Abstracts and Presentations
Watch the video of the 2013 Honors Conference
Student Thesis Title Advisor Dept
Ana Carolina Barry Laso Explaining Social Inclusion Policies:
Emergence Theory and the Case of Brazil (1988-2013)
Bhrigupati Singh ANTH
Vanes Ibric The Selectivity and Inconsistency of Security Council-Authorized Humanitarian Intervention: Explaining Syria in Light of Libya Nukhet Sandal WIIS
Jorge Tamames A Crisis of Consensus:Legacies of the Spanish Transition, 1975-2013 Claudia Elliott INTL/WIIS

2012

Abstracts and Presentations
Student Thesis Title Advisor Dept
Julia Sheehy Chan Government Strategy Behind Religious Conflict: Explaining Violence Against Christians in Egypt and Jordan Melani Cammett POLS
Sarah Wilbanks Cherry-Picked Humanitarian Interventions: 
A Complexity Approach to Explaining Libya 2011
Catherine Lutz ANTH

2011

Abstracts and Presentations
Student Thesis Title Advisor Dept
Samura Atallah Education, Critical Thinking, and Terrorism: The Reproduction of Global Salafi Jihad in Contemporary Egypt Pauline Luong POLS
Huong Dang Determinants of Postcolonial Migrants’ Transnational Participation in Countries of Origin: Vietnam and Algeria in France David Lindstrom SOC
Jacob Friedman Counternarratives in the War on Terror: Jihadi and Western Media in the 21st Century James Der Derian WIIS
Julien Philipp Sebastian Gaertner Modeling Energy Regimes: A Quantitative and Qualitative Study of Energy Choice Across Countries Sriniketh Nagavarapu ECON
Evan Rolfe Statehood for Whom? A Great Powers Model for Changes in Statehood Criteria Nina Tannenwald POLS/WIIS
Ambika S. Roos Privatization and Protest: Water Activism Across Urban India J. Timmons Roberts, Caroline Karp SOC, ENVS
Shanoor Servai Explaining the Persistence and Decline of Separatist Movements: The Case of India Ashutosh Varshney POLS
Jenna Stark Shifting Biases, Shifting Decisions: US Media Coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 2005-2010 James Der Derian WIIS
Katerina Wright Eyeing Prestige, Eluding Risk: Explaining European Union Security Missions and Operations Ulrich Krotz  POLS


2010

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


2009

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


2008

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


2007

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