Political Science Senior Integrated Projects

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This collection includes Senior Integrated Projects (SIPs, formerly known as Senior Individualized Projects) completed in the Political Science Department. Abstracts are generally available to the public, but PDF files are available only to current Kalamazoo College students, faculty, and staff. If you are not a current K College student, faculty, or staff member, email us at dspace@kzoo.edu to request access to this material.

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    Managing Crisis : Germany’s Responses to Russian Invasions of Ukraine
    (2023-03-01) Carlson, John; Elman, R. Amy, 1961-
    I never expected that this would be the topic of my SIP. Even in the days before the invasion began, I was confident that Putin would not invade Ukraine. I believed his build-up of troops at the Ukrainian border was a bluff or posturing for another goal. I believed that the enormous consequences - both political and economic - would dissuade Putin from attempting an invasion. I, like many others who misjudged Putin’s inner intentions, was incorrect. Three days after the 2022 invasion, I heard Chancellor Scholz’s Zeitenwende (turning point) speech and the excitement he generated. Analysts seemed to agree that this was a major moment for Germany. Some called it a new era for Germany - one where Germany would defend liberal democratic values with force (David-Wilp and Kleine-Brockhoff 2022). I decided that I wanted my Senior Individualized Project (SIP) to compare Scholz’s actions during the invasion to Chancellor Merkel’s during the 2014 Ukrainian Crisis. As time went on and Scholz’s actions failed to live up to the promises contained within his Zeitenwende speech, my SIP shifted to comparing the two leaders and why one succeeded while the other couldn’t. Naturally, this is being written amid the 2022 invasion which has implicit obstacles for the type of sources available. Among these, I have no access to the backroom deals which might prove to be how the invasion ends and how it is remembered. If nothing else, this SIP shall serve as a snapshot in time: a context of how Scholz’s actions were perceived in the moment. Lastly, when analyzing politics, it is easy to lose focus of the human impact of these events. My heart goes out to the victims of the war: the Russians suffering under Putin’s regime and the Ukrainian people protecting their country and their democracy in the face of the Russian invasion.
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    Kalamazoo College Student Voter Turnout and How to Increase Student Political Engagement
    (2022-03-01) Dexter, Kaitlyn; Berry, Justin A.
    This research project investigates the best way for Kalamazoo College to increase its student voter turnout rate. Kalamazoo College students voted at their highest levels in the 2018 Midterm and 2020 Presidential Elections since the National Study for Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) began tracking student turnout rates in 2012. Since young people tend to vote at lower rates than older people, it is important for colleges and universities to motivate students to vote to increase their engagement and representation in US political systems. This study aims to find out how the best ways to promote voting among K students. To test the hypothesis that K Votes has increased student turnout among K Students, NSLVE data was analyzed, and K was compared to similar institutions and geographical locations. Voter mobilization literature was reviewed, and 18 K students were interviewed about what they think are the best ways for students to develop their political identities and vote. The results indicate that voter mobilization efforts by K Votes have had a positive impact on the student turnout rate, since K Votes targets first years through First Year Forums and voter registration drives. Importantly, K Votes must improve outreach efforts to Asian, Black, and Hispanic students and inform all students on how to vote while they are on study abroad.
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    The International Trade Union Confederation: An International Anomaly or Normality
    (2022) Fritch, Gavin H.; Elman, R. Amy, 1961-
    This paper simultaneously serves as a primer for new scholarship on the ITUC, while also analyzing what type of organization it by utilizing Union of International Association (UIA) system of classification. ITUC is found to be a general semi-autonomous occupation, and geographically fragmented NGO. A brief history of international trade unionism from the 20th century to now is also provided, alongside a summary of the different bodies of the ITUC and their mechanisms. Keywords: International Trade Unionism, ITUC, International Trade Union Confederation, NGOs, Meta-Organizations
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    Outside Variables in Voter Behavior : A Revision of Riker & Ordeshook (1968)
    (2016-09-01) Ross, Alexander; Bangura, Joseph
    In examining the shortcomings of Riker and Ordeshook's theory of the calculus of voting, one can gamer a greater understanding into the best way to set up a local campaign for success. I will seek to compare my findings with one specific local campaign- my campaign for State Representative in Michigan's 60th district. Five questions will be answered: 1. How does the theory apply to local elections? 2. What shortcomings prevent this theory from being applied comparatively between local and national elections? 3. What does this theory tell us about running local elections? 4. Is branding oneself in a more universal fashion is beneficial to both the legitimacy of the state and the election of the candidate? 5. How can a message be crafted to be more universal and more beneficial than engaging a voter with a single election. By examining these questions in juxtaposition to the experiences of running a local political campaign, the utility of a math-based theory on today's election will be rendered more clearly. Riker and Ordeshook do make caveats in their theory, acknowledging that it will not always be found true in all circumstances. In individual cases, they found a small number of outlier votes or non-votes that went against their theory. They gave a few reasons to this such as a misestimation of the probability of benefits (P) or a miscalculation of potential benefits (B). In this paper, however, I will be focusing on the differential factors under the assumption that because P and B are typically correct and predictive, the factor that most influences decision making is in fact variants of the 'D' factor, as well as a further information factor that Riker and Ordeshook left out. They also affirm "the behavior of most people can be described by a theory of rational decision-making (Riker and Ordeshook 1968)." This was as they set out to do. As previously described, they appear to be correct in the assertion that the theory works when applied to individuals and persons. My critique is specific to the differences in behavior among similar variables- that in local elections the same variables produce different results such that: RLocal = PB - c + D and R.National = PB - c + D but Rlocal -=/-= R.National To explain this, I will use some relative numbers to represent each of these variables. Take first the local election. In a local election, assuming the same voting structure and individuals as a national election, only the probability of receiving benefits should change. It could be argued that the probability increases as a voter nears the office itself. The more influence they exert (and the more their vote matters), the higher the probability should be. For both elections in this thought experiment, the same numeric representations for every variable except for P will be used, because it assumes the same exact voter. This will be repeated 4 times for each election with differing Cost values (C) and with differing differential variables (D).
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    Eritrea and Oromia : A Comparative Analysis of the Right to Sovereignty
    (2016) Iyob, Yohana; Bangura, Joseph
    The Horn of Africa refers to the states of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Somalia, and the region has been embroiled in conflicts for decades. There have been a wide range of issues, including, but not limited to territorial claims, border disputes, and secessionist movements. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 made the region invaluable to western powers; it created a shortcut to India by connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean, allowing maritime trade to be routed through the Red Sea. This had the twofold effect of making trade 1puch easier - the canal cut thousands of miles from the maritime trip - while making the Horn strategically important to control. This research focuses on two states, Ethiopia and Eritrea, from 1869 to the present, and examines the secessionist movement of Oromo nationalists within the state of Ethiopia. This project intended to analyze the denial of Oromo sovereignty against the success that Eritrea ~ finally achieved in 1991. It will begin with the colonial history of Ethiopia, and the ways in which it assisted Italy in colonizing Eritrea. This section will also explore the idea of Ethiopia as a black colonial power. The subsequent section will focus on the world powers which decided Eritrea's post-colonial future, and the ways in which rebel groups won their independence through guerilla warfare. With a general understanding of the three territories, we move to the theory behind statehood and self-determination, and that brings us to Ethiopia's present politics. This final section is a discussion of the institutional power that the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia holds, and outlines the illiberal nature of democracy in the country. This concludes with an argument for restructuring the present government, rather than dividing the country.
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