Honors Theses Abstracts

2014 Abstracts

Sarah Allibhoy, under the supervision of Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue

Models of Foreign Aid Allocation and Impact on Effectiveness: A Comparison of USAID Projects in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Afghanistan and Pakistan have been the centerpieces of U.S. foreign policy for the past decade and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has been a key player in working towards achieving strategic objectives in both countries. As the U.S. prepares to transition security forces out of Afghanistan in 2014, the nature of the U.S. – Afghan and U.S. – Pakistani relationship is sure to change. Through a close, qualitative, review of seven development projects by USAID in Afghanistan and Pakistan along with a statistical analysis of more than 80 projects to determine the relationship between various key factors and project success rate, this paper explores the relationship between method of aid allocation and aid effectiveness in a region where U.S. development activities are closely linked to specific national security objectives. The outcomes of the development projects provide insight into development best practices and the mechanisms that must be in place in order for aid organizations to reach development objectives.

Jessica Horst, under the supervision of Parfait Eloundou-Enyegue

Rethinking Development: An Analysis of the Factors Underlying Millennium Development Goal Progress in sub-Saharan Africa

Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa are not on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This thesis evaluates the determinants of success in meeting the MDGs, namely the role of classic development factors such as education, demographic factors, good governance, and contribution of natural resources. After multivariate regression analysis, this thesis concludes that the aforementioned factors (education, population, governance, and natural resource contribution) explain 65% of the variance in MDG progress (R2 = 0.65), and while good governance is found to be beneficial, the analyses show surprising results for the effects of education, age structure and natural resource availability. Some of these findings suggest a need to rethink differences between classic measures/ determinants of development versus MDGs. As 2015 approaches and the MDG era comes to an end, research on these topics is critical to better inform the future developmental agenda.

Nadia Stella Isa Kalley, under the supervision of Sarah Giroux and Parfait Eloundou

Insurance Coverage and Disease-Specific Health Outcomes

Rachel B. Schlass, under the supervision of Wendy Wolford

Formative Ideologies and Determinants of Change: Challenges to the Social and Political Paradigms of the Israeli State.

The security sector within Israel is closely bound to ruling elites and institutionalized power structures, and to seek to reform it is threatening to the established domestic order. Recent social protests attempted to destabilize these pre-existing structures and this paper provides a qualitative survey through which the significance of these challenges may be approached. I evaluated social actors of two mobilization efforts: the African Asylum Seeker movement, and the J-14 Social Protest movement through participant observation. In total 30 interviews were conducted, recorded and coded. Their responses illustrated an overwhelming and universal preservation of state-building values irrespective of obvious challenges to Israeli state sovereignty and whether or not their claims were native or immigrant driven.  The state's adopted strategies to those claims reinforced existing political sovereignty of the security sector despite emergent challenges. The recent cycle of movements appear related in other ways as well. Symbols, location and territory are themes that reinforce the presence of nationalism despite mobilized patterns of contention among the heterogeneous Israeli landscape. Compared to previous claims when violence and repression established the loudest political voice within the defined territory of Israel a new opportunity structure was observed that is born out of desire to foster social justice among the changing population and population structures of Israel.

Saul Benjamin Schuster, under the supervision of John Sipple

Election Cycle Effect on the Voting Behaviors of Tompkins County Legislators: A Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis.

This study examined how the “run-up to the election” (Walter, 2008) affects the voting behaviors (frequency and unanimity on key substantive policy arenas) of elected officials in the Tompkins County Legislature. A statistical analysis was done on nine consecutive years of Legislative meeting agendas to track trends in the substantive nature of the resolutions voted upon. Additionally, eight structured interviews were conducted with Tompkins County’s elected officials who were recruited by their official email addresses posted on the Tompkins County Legislature website. Based on this interview data, resolutions were coded into five categories: Symbolic, Administrative, Fiscal, Grant, and Building. The findings suggest that resolutions “in line with public sentiments” were more likely to occur in election years- as defined by county Legislators. These findings support previous research, which has found that opportunistic policy making happens in the lead up to election cycles.

Jana Wilbricht, under the supervision of Angela Gonzales

Bridging the Digital Divide: Access and Use of Internet and Mobile Technology for Health Information among Hopi Indians.

American Indians living on rural Indian reservations experience significant health disparities and a lack of infrastructure, which hinders access to health information. Understanding the availability and use of online/mobile health information among American Indians is important for identifying how the technology may improve access to health information. To learn about the current use of online/mobile health information and barriers to access, I collected focus group and interview data among members of the Hopi Tribe, a rural reservation community in Arizona. My findings suggest that while the digital divide continues to limit access to the Internet, the use of mobile technologies is increasing. Major concerns regarding online/mobile health information were uncertainty about effective use and a perceived culture-technology dichotomy. These concerns can be addressed through community education and the development of culturally relevant content. The data highlights the potential of online/mobile health information to reduce health inequality in American Indian communities.