Building my thesis in the field

Among emerging scholars, the summer of every year is a perfect time to test the theories they have learned about, and incorporated in their thesis – all in the field. Serena Arena, one of the Rue Ziegler 2018 fellows, shares her research trip to Stuttgart, Germany.

This summer, I traveled to South West Germany to do research for my thesis entitled “Ethno-Religious Persecution, Sexual Slavery, Challenging Reintegration: What Is Next for The Future of Yazidi Women?” I spent a week interviewing Yazidi women who had lived under Daesh/ISIS captivity post the events of the Sinjar Massacre in 2014, in northern Iraq. Continue reading “Building my thesis in the field”

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Learning from Communities: My Fieldwork Experience in Turkey

In the summer of 2018, the International Studies Program awarded me the Rue W. Ziegler Fellowship, which gave me the opportunity to conduct fieldwork in Turkey for my capstone project. My research topic focuses on the education and integration of Syrian refugees in Turkey. More precisely, I would like to discover the effects and the importance of Syrians’ education on their integration process in Turkey.

Continue reading “Learning from Communities: My Fieldwork Experience in Turkey”

Welcome to Academic Year 2018/2019!

As the incoming Chair of the International Studies Department, I want to take this opportunity to welcome new and returning students (and faculty and staff) to the 2018/2019 academic year at USF. It is an exhilarating moment for our department because of many new developments that are bubbling up all around us.

Continue reading “Welcome to Academic Year 2018/2019!”

MAIS Internship Spotlight: Jules Sombaye (´18)

 

This week, we caught up with current MAIS student to learn about his recent internship experience. All MAIS students complete an internship intended to apply in-class learning to real-world situations. Jules (MAIS ’18) shares his experience below.

Continue reading “MAIS Internship Spotlight: Jules Sombaye (´18)”

Rue W. Ziegler Fellowship: Tristan Burger(MAIS´17)

The Rue W. Ziegler Fellowship awarded me the opportunity to travel to The Hague this fall to attend a child protection conference. The 15th Annual International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) European Regional Conference brought together researchers, academics, practitioners, and experts in the field of child rights from around the globe to discuss the most pressing issues facing children today.

Continue reading “Rue W. Ziegler Fellowship: Tristan Burger(MAIS´17)”

Forum for Transnational Collaboration in the Visual Arts | November 17 & 18

By: Melissa Vonimary Sovik, MAIS ’18

On November 17 & 18, we are organizing the Forum for Transnational Collaboration in the Visual Arts with the objective of bringing together emerging voices from previously marginalized countries that are poised to become an essential part of the global conversation in contemporary art and institutions today. What traditionally used to be the art capitals of the world seems to be changing alongside a major shift in the world economy. We wish to create conversation on these topics and hope that it will promote a network of engagement among arts professionals.

Continue reading “Forum for Transnational Collaboration in the Visual Arts | November 17 & 18”

MAIS Students Present their Research at this year’s ISA West Conference in Pasadena, CA

ISA-West, a regional division of the International Studies Association, held its annual conference in September 2017 in Pasadena, California. ISA-West brings together students, faculty, and scholars from around the region, the U.S., and the world to present their research and discuss global issues. This year, with generous assistance from the Rue W. Ziegler Scholarship Fund, two MAIS students presented their Capstone work. Jessica Tran presented her paper entitled “Increasing US militarization of the Asa-Pacific region and its impacts on regional stability from a critical security perspective”. Tristan Burger presented her research project “Small Arms: An Applied Approach to Children in Armed Conflict Prevention Initiatives”. Below, Jessica shares her experience:

After conducting preliminary research on my thesis project throughout the summer, I had the opportunity to share my work at the ISA West Annual Conference in Pasadena, California. Presenting in a panel on U.S. Foreign Policy and International Conflict, I was excited to share my thesis project and gain valuable feedback from peers and established scholars.

Not only did I receive constructive responses for my project, but I also had the opportunity to connect with many scholars whose area of expertise relate to my academic interests. I met my rockstar, J. Ann Tickner, whose tremendous work in Feminist IR and critical security studies inspired me to think more critically about the analytical approach to my project. I engaged in a lively discussion with IR Professor Sanjoy Banerjee on China’s security infrastructure; he promised we could stay in touch and provide guidance on the case study portion of my project.

Additionally, David Lake—the discussant for my panel—offered considerable support to myself and other panelists, including extending the discussion of our papers and general career advice over coffee. These interactions were truly the highlight of the trip. I enjoyed sharing and discussing IS ideas, but the immense support of the IS community in developing emerging scholars was what really blew me away. I left tremendously encouraged with not only my thesis project but also the prospects for life after MAIS.

In participating in the conference, I faced a lot of personal fears—fear of public speaking, fear of presenting my ideas to the world, and fear of rejection. I can’t say I’ve been completely cured of these insecurities, but I’m grateful for the experience to tackle it head on and come out the other side a bit more confident and determined.

Rue W. Ziegler Fellowship: Megan Clemens

 

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Megan:

This summer I was fortunate enough to conduct my master’s thesis research near the Kimana Gate of Amboseli National Park. Amboseli is located in the southern part of Kenya, near the Tanzanian border and Mount Kilimanjaro. The Amboseli ecosystem is located in Maasailand, with many traditional Maasai communities still inhabiting the area. The Amboseli ecosystem is also part of a large migratory route that wildlife use to access corridors between Amboseli, Serengeti, Maasai Mara and Tsavo National Parks. Amboseli is quite small as a park, but the ecosystem sustains approximately 1,600 elephants while the park only holds enough resources for around 100 elephants at one time. As a result, the lands and corridors between these national parks hold so much value for both the wildlife and the local communities. As a result, community-based initiatives have been implemented to encourage and incentivize community members to adhere to conservation policies, and also offset costs from human-wildlife conflict.

My research goal was to study how community-based conservation initiatives impacted the local communities, paying specific attention to the gendered dimensions of these initiatives. My main research objective lies in the gendered impacts of community-based conservation initiatives because these initiatives tend to assume communities as one unit, rather than recognizing sub-groups within communities have different needs. More specifically, the Maasai are a patriarchal society that traditionally has many customs based on gender inequalities. So, I was curious to see— Was anyone benefitting? Did some benefit more than others? If the communities were receiving benefits did both genders benefit equally? Were there barriers limiting who could benefit? To find answers to these questions, I conducted interviews with Maasai men and women, as well as conservation NGO employees.

One of the most common benefits mentioned by the Maasai community members I interviewed were school “bursaries”. The “bursaries” are checks that help pay for local kids’ tuition for secondary school. Bursaries are funds that are created through shared park revenue policies. A portion of every park entrance fee goes into this fund. However, many times the checks or bursaries do not cover the costs of a semester for one child in secondary school. It surprised me that so many members of the Maasai communities who were receiving these bursaries considered them a benefit from the park, but also recognized that it wasn’t truly enough to cover the costs of an education. Additionally, the benefits of the school bursaries were even harder to access for girls because of the existence of female genital mutilation, child marriages, and marriage dowries. Often because of these barriers, families use the limited funds they have to send their sons to secondary school.  

My advice for students wanting to conduct fieldwork abroad is first and foremost, do it! Secondly, I would say start planning and coordinating with your advisor as soon as you can because there is a lot of logistics that go into planning your work abroad. For students who are thinking that they want to go abroad for research, but may not have an advisor— reach out to department faculty and start having those conversations. Once out in the field, enjoy your time there and take notes on everything!

Alumni Spotlight: Francesca Mateo (MAIS’ 16)

We caught up with recent MAIS graduate, Francesca Mateo (MAIS ‘16) about her work with Project PEARLS, an NGO in the Philippines that aims to alleviate children from slum communities out of poverty through education and health. Here is an excerpt from a story she wrote documenting her experience and a new initiative to create a week-long dance summit as part of an immersion trip for Filipino-American choreographers. Be sure to read the full story here.

Francesca:

While in the MAIS program, my classmates and I were given several case studies in which we had to access numerous ways to problem-solve. For instance, how do we increase the nutrition in this particular community? Or, how do we approach a human rights issue in a community while remaining culturally sensitive? Because MAIS taught me how to take the time to understand an issue from several different angles, I am more prepared to create my own program.

While creating Art of Us, not only did I ask what the problem was but what were the factors that played a role in it. Creating Art of Us also required a great amount of teamwork considering I worked with three organizations to create it. The MAIS program helped with this as well. On top of papers and readings, MAIS requires its students to collaborate and debate and build together. MAIS helped build my professionalism, cooperative skills, as well as leadership.

Working to Prepare our Students for the Future

A degree in International Studies provides the knowledge and skills employers in a variety of fields are looking for in those they hire. In the International Studies Department dana_with_map_2-3 (2)at USF we are always working to improve our curriculum to better serve our students to this end. Professor Dana Zartner, Chair of the International Studies Department, recently worked with members of four other International Studies programs around the country to brainstorm some best practices for creating success for our students. The results of their work were recently published in International Studies Perspectives, which is linked below. We’d love to hear from you – what other best practices can you think of?

Knowledge Skills and Preparing for the Future