Research Success Story

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  • Vice Provost for Research & Dean of Graduate Studies
    202-885-3753
    researchau@american.edu
    Wisconsin (4200), Suite 201 Washington, DC 20016-8075

    Tubman, Jonathan G.
    Vice Provost for Research & Dean of Graduate Studies

Mailing Address
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Profile: Keisha Robinson

Keisha Robinson, SIS/MA ’09
Comparative and Regional Studies

As a former Peace Corps volunteer in Jamaica, Keisha Robinson had a sense of déjà vu. “I was struck by the similarities between the youth in Kingston and other youth I’d previously worked with at a Washington, D.C. Public Charter school. The Jamaican and U.S. youth faced many of the same challenges,” she said.

The impact of this connection led Robinson to focus her M.A. studies in Latin America and the Caribbean regions. She was granted an SIS Graduate Research Award, and will attend the Caribbean Studies Association Conference in Kingston, Jamaica in June 2009, studying current international youth collaborations. After graduation, she plans to apply for a Fulbright grant to implement a project to study more deeply the similarities between marginalized Jamaican and U.S. youth of African descent.

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Profile: Patrick Kipalu

Patrick Kipalu, SIS/MA ’10
Global Environmental Politics

Patrick Kipalu’s interest in conservation began during his undergraduate studies at the University of Kinshasa, in his home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). His passion has grown during his MA studies, following a pilot study on "The Local Communities and the Management of Natural Resources in the DR Congo: Challenges and Opportunities; The Case of the Marine Park of Mangroves," which he completed in 2001, and led to the launching of a biodiversity conservation project in 2003. As a recipient of an SIS Graduate Research Award, he presented this paper at the Student Conference on Conservation Science at the University of Cambridge in March 2009.

As time passes, Kipalu grows more optimistic regarding the future of forestry in the Congo. "This project is a succeeding example of a community-based conservation initiative, because human pressures on the forest … are being reduced, allowing nature to regenerate while local communities’ quality of life is slowly but gradually improving."

Kipalu was also recently awarded a $10,000 Compton Foundation Grant, which he will use to offset the field research and publication costs for his MA thesis, “Climate Change, Forests and Indigenous Populations of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).” He plans to travel to the DRC to conduct interviews with "indigenous peoples about how environmental issues are impacting their lives; to understand and display the perspectives of indigenous communities toward climate change and forests preservation; and finally to suggest policies to the DRC government allowing sustainable development of indigenous people while managing forests responsibly."

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Profile: Indhika Jayratnam

Indhika Jayaratnam, SIS/MA ‘10
International Peace and Conflict Resolution

With her 2009 SIS Graduate Research Award, Indhika Jayaratnam attended the “Mindfulness as a Foundation for Teaching and Learning” event in Philadelphia in February 2009 as part of her interest and research in the relationship between inner and outer peace as a method of conflict resolution.

Having worked in D.C.’s Peacebuilding and Development Institute and the Center for Inspired Teaching, Jayratnam is well aware of the benefits of peace education. “I have become increasingly interested in the application of contemplative practice in peace education programs for children and adults. Promoting mindfulness, meditation, and yoga” manages stress, she notes, and can “generate meaningful social change by connecting personal practice to professional practice.” 

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Profile: Matthew Chandler

Matthew Chandler, SIS/MA ’09
International Peace and Conflict Resolution

Matthew Chandler’s thesis research took him to Beirut, Lebanon in January 2009 to study and interview members of Hezbollah and the organization’s violent and increasingly non-violent actions in their home country. Chandler asks, “Why would groups engaged in struggles for justice choose sometimes to make use of certain nonviolent methods – such as mass demonstrations, strikes or boycotts – but not commit to nonviolence overall?” 

His interest and work in peacemaking stretches back to working with Nonviolence International, the United States Institute of Peace, and Christian Peacemaker Teams. Chandler's plans for his thesis, using the SIS Graduate Research Award in Lebanon, include a review of political theory, peacebuilding theory, and suggestions and recommendations for organizations that look to stress nonviolence as a method of persuasion. 

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Profile: Ivica Petrikova

Ivica Petrikova, SIS/MA ’09
International Politics

While researching her thesis, “Ensuring Food Security Through Distributive Agricultural Policies,” Ivica Petrikova used her SIS Graduate Research Award to travel to Guatemala to study the damaging effects of hunger firsthand. 22% of Guatemalans suffer from malnutrition, partially due to the high exportation of cash crops, rather than use of the land to grow food. “While a greater equalization of productive resources (land and investment) along with appropriate agricultural policies do not necessarily lead to an increase in national income, they do bring about an improvement in a country’s food security,” she argues.

Petrikova interviewed representatives of both non-governmental and international organizations in order to delve into the idea of domestic consumption versus the export of those crops. Her concentration in human rights and international development has been supported by coursework in international economics, the micropolitics of development, and international relations theory.
 

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Profile: Micael Bogar

Micael Bogar, SIS/MA ’10
International Peace and Conflict Resolution

The combination of the arts and oppression has influenced Micael Bogar for a number of years, from work in the theatre to two years in Ganja, Azerbaijan with the Peace Corps and a Fulbright Scholarship to Tbilisi, Georgia. During her time in Ganja, Bogar organized theatre productions in English, and “sparked a love for theatre and civil engagement within a strong group of young artists who continue to do theatre work in their community today,” she said.

As a recipient of the SIS Graduate Research Award, Bogar will travel to Minneapolis in May 2009 to present her paper, “The Peacemaker’s War,” at the Pedagogy and Theater of the Oppressed Conference, and explore the art of activism in the U.S. more deeply. Her paper is based on her experience at the ten-day South Caucasus Theater Workshop, which Bogar created to bring together artists from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Turkey, and the U.S.

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Profile: Stephen Maher

Stephen Maher, SIS/MA ’09
Comparative Regional Studies

Rather than traveling for a short period of research or to a conference, Stephen Maher used his SIS Graduate Research Award to live in Ramallah, in the West Bank of the Occupied Territories of the Middle East. His thesis, “A New Nakba: The Signing of Oslo and the End of Palestine” focuses on the signing of the Oslo Accords and the shifting governments that resulted in the area. Maher used his residency in the area to interview members and leaders of the Fatah and Hamas parties regarding the peace process with Israel and the internal conflicts.

Maher’s coursework in comparative regional studies have focused on the Middle East (in such courses as Post-Saddam Iraq, US-Iran Relations, and Politics of Reform in the Arab Gulf). He spent much of the summer of 2008 working with the Palestinian Legislative Council and in an applied workshop on Civil Society, Politics, and Conflict Resolution.

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Profile: Kenny Dunn

Kenny Dunn, SIS/MS ’09
International Development Management

Kenny Dunn’s interest in organic gardening and permaculture has taken him all around the world: from Miami (working for ethical apparel company Urban Pueblo), to Colombia (as an environmental educator for Proyecto de RESA), East Timor (interning with Permaculture Timor Leste) and New Zealand (fundraising and marketing for P.L.A.N.E.T. Organic).

Now Dunn is using his SIS Graduate Research Award to spend four months living in Bangalore, India to document the launch of the Indian company Maya Organic’s children’s clothing line, MO Glee. “This initiative is historic in both its ingenuity and scope, and many people within the industry will be paying careful attention to how it unfolds,” he notes. He will be working directly with the C.E.O. of Maya Organic, and conducting feasibility studies for the company.

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Profile: Eunjung Park

Eunjung Park, SIS/MA ’09
International Politics

In conjunction with her dual M.A./J.D. work, Eunjung Park used her SIS Graduate Research Award to spend ten days in Kenya in December 2008 for her paper, “Dispute Resolution Across Ethnic, Economic, and Religious Divides of Kibera,” a slum located in Nairobi.

While residents of Kibera are deficient in water, sewage, and educational services, “the lack of official dispute resolution mechanisms and government intervention in Kibera only worsens the dire living condition, leaving the residents subject to the economic and ethnic struggles within the slum,” Park said. Her paper aims to compare the villages of Kibera with studies of other slum-like areas and will discuss feasible dispute resolution mechanisms.

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Profile: Greg Dupuy

Greg Dupuy, SIS/MA ’09
International Politics

In early March 2009, Greg Dupuy used his SIS Graduate Research Award to travel to Vienna, Austria to attend the Board of Governors meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Dupuy’s plan for his thesis, “Atoms for Peace and Security: The Reconstitution of the International Atomic Energy Agency as a Political Actor,” centers around the usefulness and influence of the organization.

“If research supports the premise that the International Atomic Energy Agency has evolved into something other than what it was designed or equipped to become, there are important theoretical and political consequences,” Dupuy said. His thesis will examine the history of the agency, along with its development and current function. Dupuy has interned with Washington D.C.’s United Nations Information Centre and written a number of papers on energy and nuclear technology.

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Profile: Joanna Hurlburt

Joanna Hurlburt, SIS/MA ’10
International Politics

Using her SIS Graduate Research Award, first-term SIS graduate student Joanna Hurlburt presented her paper, “Loss and Politics: Seeking a Solution to Vietnamese Central Highlander Discontent” at the University of Massachusetts Graduate Student Conflict Studies Conference in October and November 2008. The paper addressed human rights abuses and discontent of Central Highlander refugees from Vietnam to Cambodia.

Hurlburt’s history of travel abroad is extensive, including study in Tibet for a field-based research thesis and work in Cambodia for the Center for Khmer Studies. She speaks six languages with varying degrees of proficiency, including Hindi, French, and Spanish.

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Profile: Anne Hainer

Anne Hainer, SIS/MA ’09
International Development

Anne Hainer's SIS Graduate Research Award covered the costs of travel to and from the MPSA Political Science Association Annual Conference in Chicago, where she presented her paper “Term Limits in Africa: How Presidents Circumvent Their Constitutions.” She notes, “the ways in which … presidents were able to exploit their power and maintain office demonstrate a failing in African democracies and their institutions.”

Hainer has years of interest and background in Africa (from studying its contemporary history to working in South Africa and Senegal). Her concentration in SIS is Africa, Governance, and Economics.

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Profile: Corbett Hix

Corbett Hix, SIS/MA ’09
International Development

Corbett Hix’s interests in working conditions and the effectiveness of monitoring factories have led him to write his specific research paper on the topic, and, to do so, he traveled to Southeast Asia in January 2009 with the monies from his SIS Graduate Research Award to examine labor standards in Vietnam and Cambodia.

He accompanied factory monitors on their audits of the institutions, noted whether or not they met the standards of the corporate codes of conduct, and worked closely with the Fair Labor Association to do so. In addition to his work in International Development, Hix serves as the department’s senator to the SIS Graduate Student Council.

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Profile: Carrie Brochu

Carrie Brochu, SIS/MA ’09
International Peace and Conflict Resolution

As part of her work in International Peace and Conflict Resolution, Carrie Brochu has delved into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the effects that the 2000 collapse of the Oslo Peace Process has had since on the two Middle East regions. To do so, Brochu traveled to Jerusalem and the West Bank in January 2009, with assistance from her SIS Graduate Research Award, to examine more closely the grassroots movements of Israelis and Palestinians.

During her time in the Middle East, Brochu spoke to representatives from Rabbis for Human Rights, the Holy Land Trust, and the International Solidarity Movement, along with individual Israelis and Palestinians of different ages, sexes, religions, and socio-economic levels.