Baylor > Political Science > Undergraduate Program > Scholars Day 2010

Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Achievement's Scholars Week

March 22 - March 26, 2010

Shannon Eichblatt, Senior, History
Sara Lemons, Senior, International Studies
Faculty Mentor: Sara Alexander
Title: Stressed Out Over Climate? How Vulnerability and Stress Levels Affect Coping Strategies
          (Department of Anthropology, Forensic Science and Archaeology)

Research indicates that the impact of stressful events is, to some degree, determined by one's perceptions of their stressfulness (Cohen et al.). Emotional responses to outside influences can cause significant cascading effects on a community-a-large, including societies where livelihoods are exclusively dependent on susceptible natural resources. The village of Placencia in Belize, located on a long and narrow peninsula in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, has been particularly vulnerable to severe weather events, one of the most devastating being Hurricane Iris in 2001. Using data from vulnerable households in Placencia, this study explores relationships between awareness about weather and climate change, levels of perceived stress, and coping strategies to climate-related events. Our specific objectives are to: (1) identify vulnerable households and determine their perceptions about recent weather patterns; (2) determine household levels of perceived stress; and (3) explore influences that stress and perceptions about weather are having on climate-related coping strategies.

Tricia Hamby, Senior, Anthropology
Kira Geslin, Senior, International Studies
Faculty Mentor: Sara Alexander
Title: Sex, Society and Severe Weather: Does Social Connectedness Impact the Ability to Cope with Climate Events?
           (Department of Anthropology, Forensic Science and Archaeology)

The concept of household vulnerability revolves around the degree to which a household has the "capacity to anticipate, cope with, resist, and recover from the impact of a natural hazard" (Blaikie et al. 2001). It involves a combination of factors that determine the degree to which someone's life and livelihood are put at risk by a discrete and identifiable event in nature or in society. While vulnerable households are usually put at higher risks during social, political or natural crises, a contributing factor to vulnerability is degree of social connectedness. Support from friends and family may be critical when coping with conditions in the aftermath of a severe weather event. Reliance on one's neighbor may be central to these coping strategies. Using data from a small coastal community in Belize, this study explores social connectedness and its influence on coping strategies in response to climate-related events, disaggregated by gender. Are women more involved than men in community activities? And if so, does their level of social cohesion affect their coping abilities? The specific objectives of this presentation are to evaluate household levels of social connectedness in Placencia, and to explore household-level associations between gender, social connectedness, and responses to climate-related events.

Grant Sheehan, Senior, International Studies
Faculty Mentor: Ivy Hamerly
Title: CATCHING THE BUTTERFLY: NATO and the European Union - Integration and Security
          (Department of Political Science)

This paper explores the interaction between NATO and the EU's European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP). How could these two institutions integrate and align their goals and capabilities cooperatively? What are factors encouraging integration? What obstacles are there? Is such integration or alignment likely?

I argue that NATO-EU integration is achievable in terms of goals and military capabilities, but current geopolitical considerations make it unlikely. Long-term, geopolitical and security developments will foster increasing NATO-EU collaboration, making integration more likely. I used scholarly articles and US congressional reports to analyze NATO-EU relations through case studies and organizational interactions, applying both functional and institutional theories.

I found that NATO and EU member states' common values, security goals, and military capabilities are encouraging integration, but current structural differences and geopolitical concerns are prohibiting integration in the short run. Yet, converging NATO-EU membership, deepening EU internal integration, and mounting security challenges are pressuring these two institutions to cooperate and integrate more closely. Thus, NATO and the EU may integrate down the road.

Ben Roshto, Senior, Spanish
Jessica Green, Senior, International Studies
Faculty Mentor: Michael Thomas
Prose: Emilia Pardo Bazan
          (Department of Modern Foreign Languages - Spanish & Portuguese)

David Matthew, Senior, Political Science
Faculty Mentor: Jeff Hunt
Title: The Catiline conspiracy to 9/11: A Consideration of Executive Power in Two Republics
          (Department of Classics)

In this paper, I discuss Cicero's role in ending the Catiline Conspiracy in terms of a comparison of the Roman Republic's consulship and the American Presidency. This is, to some degree, an exploration of emergency powers in American history and the lessons that might have been drawn (and which are still relevant) from the earlier Roman model of republican government. As these are two of history's great republics, and one remains influential for world events, it would be useful to learn from our greatest analogue in the past to help answer our contemporary questions.

The focus of the paper is mostly on Cicero's circumstances and motivations, his senatus consultum de re publica defendend, and the subsequent fallout caused by his actions. Following this original focus, parallels with four different US presidents are drawn to show how our own republic responds to the extraordinary display of power by one man in concurrence with national and international crises. What results is a mixed message, but a message that indicates an acceptance of greater executive power if it is 1) narrowly confined; and 2) deemed proportional in response to the crisis.

Lastly, the paper examines the question that emerges as to why the example of the consulship of Cicero, as well as his subsequent exile, has not been one that presidents consider more carefully when requesting (or simply taking) greater power from Congress and the Judiciary.

Joseph F. Hawkins, Junior, English/Philosophy/Political Science
Faculty Mentor: Joe Fulton
Title: The Individualist Emphasis in the Speeches of Frederick Douglass
          (Department of English)

Following the publication of his autobiography, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass in 1845, Douglass went on the speaking circuit with the ardent abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison. After gaining considerable notoriety in this way, Douglass eventually spit with Garrison over constitutional interpretation. Douglass thought it to be a document of freedom while Garrison thought it to be a document of enslavement. This act, in many ways, symbolizes the new life Douglass was to embark on for the rest of his years. Throughout his next fifty years, Douglass stressed the moral wrongs of slavery and the necessity for freedom, but he stressed these principles for particular reasons. He wanted blacks to be free in order to express their individuality, in order to become self-made men. Numerous unpublished speeches exist of Douglass speaking at universities urging young people to throw off the shackles of dependency and embrace the virtues of hard work and sacrifice. This way of living was all Douglass knew, but it was not an uncommon outlook. Emerson and Thoreau also wrote and spoke of the importance of the individual. It was this idea of individualism that drove Douglass to work to abolish slavery. In his view, to be an individual is to fully partake in the endeavor that is life.

Shayan Makani, Junior, Political Science and Philosophy
Faculty Mentor: John Ferguson and Jonathan Tran (Religion)
Title: Deciphering Nonidentitarianism: A Criticism of Giorgio Agamben's Notion of Community as Whatever
          (Department of Political Science)

Humans are inherently social creatures. Our linguistic relationships at the micro- and macropolitical levels, with others, and ourselves, historically ground our being. It is within this grounding of being, founded in the commonality of humanity and its language, in which a space is present for communal relations, a void longing for societal connectedness and fulfillment. This essay focuses on the political nature of "whatever being," a means of filling that emptiness present in the human condition. Specifically, I argue that the ideas of Giorgio Agamben, an Italian philosopher and political theorist, regarding "whatever singularities" as explicated in The Coming Community cannot act as a foundation for a political response to the growing biopolitical paradigm of our era.

My criticism of Agamben's notion of community analyzes multiple arguments presented in the literature, including those related to conceptual absolutism, identity politics, transitions of communal relationships, the instability of Cartesian dualism within the coming community, and the re-appropriation of power as a reformed nihilism within the confines of traditional biopolitics. I conclude that "whatever being" cannot counteract the State's mounting control over life, a strategy of power relations that has increasingly become the norm for relations among a State and its citizens.
"Whatever being" does not permit humanity to live such that it always matters. Alternatively, I suggest that we must embrace he grounded particularities of identity politics in the context of Statist relations to create avenues for incremental change.

Amabely Alderete, Senior, Political Science
Luisa Muskus, Senior, Economics, Political Science
Ben Dille, Junior, International Studies
Faculty Mentor: John Ferguson
Title: God at Work. The Dilemma of the Workplace Spirituality Movement
          (Department of Political Science)

Since the early 1990s, the workplace spirituality movement (WPS) has become popular among companies throughout the United States. While definitions of WPS vary, the concept is characterized by "employee experiences of meaningful work, community, and transcendence" (Pawar, 2009: 245). The WPS movement is based on the idea that employees are increasingly discontent with their work environment, resulting in failure of employees to show interest in their daily tasks. Thus, companies seek to increase employee happiness, and thus productivity, by embracing spirituality. Extant research demonstrates that WPS has beneficial effects on attitudes including job involvement, organizational identification, and work rewards satisfaction as well as on work unit performance. WPS aims to provide the workplace with a sense of spiritual unity by allowing workers to profess and live out their faith at work, thus creating a sense of companionship with fellow workers.

Companies are utilizing the WPS movement to enhance productivity and address issues related to workplace unhappiness. However, few scholars have explored the legal precedents and implications related to spirituality in the workplace. Thus, we will discuss the historical statutes related to workplace spirituality and analyze the legal and organizational implications of the WPS movement. Specifically, our research will take an actor approach and address the outcomes of WPS from the perspective of both managers, subordinates, and the stakeholders with whom they interact.

Pawar, B.S. 2009. Some of the recent organizational behavior concepts as precursors to workplace spirituality. Journal of Business Ethics, 88, 245-261.

Tiffany Gallegos, Sophomore, International Studies
Shayan Makani, Junior, Philosophy/Political Science
Thuy Nguyen, Senior, Political Science
Faculty Mentor: John Ferguson
Title: Facebook and Freedom: Student Internet Speech rights and Cyberbullying
          (Department of Political Science)

As a relatively new subfield in constitutional law, student Internet speech is a topic that has been examined rarely, especially in regards to how past precedent applies to the jurisdictional capabilities and regulation of school officials. Regulating speech on the Internet provides a monitoring mechanism for schools that was previously private, often handled at the familial level. As cyber-bullying becomes a common issue that public and private school officials confront on a regular basis, a sound legal justification for intervention in off-campus student speech is necessary.

This paper concentrates how technological innovations are affecting student speech rights. Specifically, it  considers how popular personal social networking websites like MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter are used as tools by students to convey threats, or the general intention or determination to conflict harm on another. Though the judiciary has heard relatively few cases regarding student Internet speech rights, the precedent established by previous landmark decisions in the field of student speech have frequently been cited in a more modern context.

This paper examines the scope of public school authority to regulate threatening off-campus cyber-bullying by considering the validity of the second of the two-prong test applied by the Supreme Court in Tinker v. Des Moines - the restriction of student speech that "[collides] with the rights of others." While several federal courts have interpreted the first prong of Tinker - the "substantial disruption" test - broadly to apply to recent instances of cyber-bullying - the second prong remains largely overlooked.

Caitlin Karraker, Junior, Political Science/Pre-Law
Faculty Mentor: Ivy Hamerly
Title: The Fatal Flaws of Regional Organizations
          (Department of Political Science)

The objective of my paper is to prove that regional organizations, although they have desirable goals, often fail to achieve those goals because: 1. their structure makes them weak and ineffective, and 2. their insistence upon pursuing their own self interest above the interest of the organization makes them counterproductive. I examined three regional organizations with very diverse memberships and very different purposes. APEC, the African Union, and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie were all researched to prove the thesis. By analyzing the structure of each organization, I use historical examples to show that when the foundation of an organization is weak from the beginning, it causes ineffectiveness problems when crisis emerges in later years. I also recount the goals of each organization and use past examples to illustrate how self interested decisions have hindered each organization from fulfilling those goals. Ultimately, the paper outlines two different factors that contribute to the ineffectiveness of regional organizations.