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Student research is an essential component of the Government Department's academic program. All majors in Government are required to complete a major, original research project of 20 pages or more. Many of our students satisfy this research and writing requirement through their course work; in fact, many students choose a course of study that requires them to complete more than one significant, original research project.
Students seeking additional opportunities to conduct research in political science have three options: to seek employment as a faculty member's research assistant; to pursue an independent study; or to enroll in the Honors Program and write a senior thesis.
For those students who intend to pursue the study of government in more depth, the Department offers an honors program that emphasizes substantial independent research under the close guidance of one or two members of the faculty. Students majoring in Government must apply during their junior year for admission to the honors program. To be eligible for honors, students require 3.50 GPA in the major or permission of the Department.
The honors thesis is worth a total of eight (graded) credits, to be allocated among the fall, Jan-Plan, and spring terms according to either of the following formulas: 4-0-4 or 3-2-3. Successful completion of the honors program and of the major will result in the degree being awarded “With Honors in Government.”
Recent Senior Theses:
Class of 2009
Patrick Boland, "Breaking the Cycle: The Rise of Contentiousness in Judicial Nominations"
Brian Lynch, "Avoiding the Fog of Crisis: A Protocol for the Proper Use of the Military"
Daniel O'Sullivan, "The Long Game: Hamas, the IRA, and the Politics of Radicalization in Palestine and Northern Ireland"
Sarah Whitfield, "No Longer Super: An Analysis of the History of Superdelegates and the Prospects for the Future"
Jacqueline Grady, “Decisions to Abrogate Personal Liberty: The Ethics of Conscription in the United States.”
Melyn Heckelman, “State Political Action Committee Financing and the 2008 Presidential Election: a Detailed Look at Mitt Romney and the Commonwealth PACs.”
Emmie Theberge, “Parks for Peace? The Role of Transboundary Conservation Areas in Resolving the Ecuador-Peru Border Conflict.”
Hande Yalnizoglu, "Democratization with Questionable Democrats: The AKP's Contribution to Democracy in Turkey."
Catherine Zweig, “Polling in Conflicted Societies: Analyzing Polling in the Context of the Niger Delta.”
Class of 2006
Jessica C. Varnum, “Catalyzing Change: Towards Accelerated and Expanded US-EU-Russian Action to Reduce the Threat of Nuclear Terrorism."
Class of 2005
Michael Rutherford, “Presidential Management, Fiscal Policy, and Public Rhetoric: An Empirical Investigation of Public Discourse and the Federal Budget FY 1947-FY 2006.”
Mark Kassin, “Do Presidential Debates Influence Voter Perceptions? National Election Studies Comparison of Viewers and Non-viewers, 1996 and 2000.”
Class of 2004
Laura Mistretta, “Who Comes Out to Play? Opportunity and Interest In College Sports: A Critical Analysis of Title IX and Its Effects on Intercollegiate Athletics, 1972- 2004.”
Any student in the Government Department who has a strong interest in a subject area not suitably covered in any of our formal course offerings is encouraged to design an independent study. Enrollment in an independent study "course" (GO 491f or GO 492s) requires permission of the faculty member who will be supervising the independent work.
An independent study may carry from 1 to 4 credits depending on the extensiveness of the project. The amount of work to be done for a particular number of credits must be approved in advance by the faculty sponsor. Normally, however, ten pages of well-crafted written work is required per academic credit.
Note, finally, that students may count only one independent study (and only if it carries 3 or 4 credits) towards the ten courses required to complete the major.
Faculty Research Assistants
Working as a faculty member's research assistant can afford a student the unique opportunity to contribute to professional work in political science. Some student research assistants have become published in political science journals as co-authors with their supervising faculty. Every member of the Department faculty is entitled to hire a research assistant for five hours per week, and most faculty members would welcome expressions of interest from motivated and talented students.