Undergraduate Research Projects
For more information about joining one of our teams, or contributing to the administrative and student support of this project, please contact Lance Bennett, Director of CCCE at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our goal is to make CCCE a fully integrated learning and research center. This means that students and faculty take questions and ideas from the classroom into the research environment. And when these projects come to fruition, the newly created knowledge is returned to the classroom, and to the larger scholarly community through this web site and in publications.
This process is based on working teams of undergraduates, graduate students and faculty. Students are full participants in research projects that generate multimedia information archives which then become resources for existing classes and for new course development in the social sciences.
Some students receive academic credit for their work. In addition, they may be employed as research assistants on funded projects. Others receive prestigious university support such as Mary Gates Undergraduate Fellowships. And, most importantly, they are involved in every step of the process of creating new knowledge, from asking original questions in the classroom, to joining an appropriate project at CCCE, to gathering and analyzing data, participating in team discussions and conferences, and seeing their own work posted and published in high quality formats.
Students in large lecture classes are motivated by seeing what their peers have produced. Indeed, introducing these resources in regular classes inevitably produces another wave of students interested in joining a team through one of our research internships.
An important result of this learning cycle is the development of new courses that are partially designed and driven by this student input. One example is a joint Political Science and Communication undergraduate seminar on new media and political information flows. Another is a course on global issue networks. There is great demand for these kinds of courses, but they cannot be developed as hands-on learning experiences without the kinds of products that our teams at CCCE are currently creating.
One team that has been up and running for more than two years is a group of students and faculty who are working on different aspects of Global Citizenship. Different projects within this group include: the expansion of citizenship claims beyond the nation state; the creation of new political accountability relations between publics, corporations, trade and development organizations; the rise of new Internet information channels for issues and causes, and the transformation of political communication via global electronic media. These students meet regularly in their various research groups, and then gather twice a month for a team meeting. The products that have been created by this team include: a series of wonderful interviews (organized and conducted by the students) with leaders of citizen groups and NGOs; think pieces on how democracy might work outside of national institutions; working papers on new citizen politics in the global arena, and data bases on the new media and global organizations that are transforming contemporary politics.
Other teams are emerging in the areas of citizenship and interactive digital media, and information systems for local and virtual communities.
Products from student learning at CCCE are displayed throughout the websites of the Center for Communication and Civic Engagement and in the Global Citizen Project companion site that we have launched based on the work of the global citizen team (www.globalcitizenproject.org).
Some student projects are showcased below:
Arman Nafisi examines whether expatriate Iranians communicate with Iranians inside Iran using blogs to promote democratic reforms. The 1979 Islamic Revolution set historical precedent for using modern communication technology as a tool to instigate regime change in a country. It also resulted in an Iranian diaspora. Iranians left Iran during and after the Islamic Revolution to pursue liberty, education, and economic opportunities in democratic countries. This research interviews Iranian blog experts, surveys the authors of Iranian blogs, and analyzes the content of 153 blogs by Iranians.
Civic Education Programs (2005)
In 2005, Jeannie Frantz, a CCCE undergraduate research fellow, put together a report on local civic resources and national centers of civic education activity.
Andrew Waits, a Mary Gates Undergraduate Fellow at CCCE in 2004-05, wrote his undergraduate thesis on computer mediated deliberation. Andrew writes, "I first became interested in the potential of the Internet as a means of political transformation and social interaction while taking Professor Kirsten Foot’s Political Science 407 course during my junior year at the University of Washington. I was primarily interested in the power of the Internet to create a forum where individuals could become exposed to differing opinions and ideologies as well as a means of mobilization and organization."
David Iozzi, a 2004 CCCE Undergraduate Research Fellow and Mary Gates Undergraduate Research Fellow investigated in his senior honors thesis Internet use by the 2004 presidential candidates. He uses their online campaigning activity to shed light on the question of how political candidates can use the Web most effectively. In particular, he focuses on the emergence of the social networking technologies most notably seen in the Howard Dean organization.
Christine Lee, B.A. Political Science and Communication, 2004, focuses on the state of youth political engagement in her research, identifying key problem areas, exploring the potential emergence of college students as pivotal actors in presidential elections, and documenting the most promising avenues for greater youth engagement in civic and political life through politically oriented youth portals on the Web. Her honors thesis examines traditional political web sites and youth-oriented political web sites and discusses the Internet’s potential role in influencing youth political engagement.
Heather Gorgura, B.A. in Political Science and Comparative Literature, 2003, focused on evolving communication technologies as activist resources. Her paper explores Internet technology, activism, and the democratization of the news media.
Rachel Wilhelm, B.A. Political Science, 2003, became interested in political consumerism through her course work, and combined this with a theoretical interest in political consumerism in the political science honors program. Her honors thesis is on political consumerism, global citizenship and the world environmental movement.
David Iozzi, a 2004 CCCE Undergraduate Research Fellow and Mary Gates Undergraduate Research Fellow, became interested in 2001 in understanding transnational advocacy groups. His project was a study of the sustainable coffee network. For this project, David produced a map as well as an analysis detailing the links between various organizations interested in supporting responsibly grown and fairly traded coffee. He also transcribed lectures and secured interviews with important leaders in the sustainable coffee movement. He also wrote a paper entitled the Moralization of Coffee that discusses the strategies of the networks. In addition, he created a Catalog of Sustainable Coffee Network Actors. His interview of Melissa Schweisguth can be found here. His capstone essay is titled, The Sustainable Coffee Movements in the United States and Denmark: A Comparative Analysis.
Culture Jams and Meme Warfare: Kalle Lasn, Adbusters, and media activism
Tactics in Global Activism for the 21st century (2002)
Wendi Pickerel, B.A. Latin American Studies 2002, conducted numerous interviews with activists concerned about consumption and politics. She has conducted interviews with Kalle Lasn of Adbusters, Alistair Jackson of the Transparency Center, and Mark Hosler of Negativland.
Standards Regimes Comparisons (2002)
Carl Schroeder, Political Science, 2002, developed a project that compares ethical standards regimes in the apparel industry and in the organic foods industry. Carl says: "The project grew out of my interest in corporate social responsibility, especially the use of consumer market pressures to achieve that responsibility. ... I was specifically interested in providing a means for interested parties to objectively compare competing standards regimes along areas they deemed important. ... In fitting with my personal interest in transparency, this project is not designed to make a recommendation as to the best standard but rather to provide a resource with which someone can make an informed opinion based on their own preferences."
This project aims to compile data allowing comparisons of different regulations or codes of conduct meant to ensure labor standards and/or certain production practices. It includes sweat-free apparel and organic food production. The focus of the project is to develop an interactive online system that will allow users to easily create unique comparisons of certain schemes and criteria. This project is not complete and the information below is presented as a work in progress. Although every attempt has been made to ensure completeness and all data was accurate at the time it was entered, please note that information may have changed. Lack of data on certain criteria may represent the incomplete status of the project rather than the absence of a standard, unless specifically stated.
Ethical Apparel Production:
Many people are concerned about reports of workers being exploited and abused while producing some of our most popular brands such as The Gap and Nike. This portion of the project aims to compile a comparison of ethical apparel production codes along with multiple criteria (such as wage requirements, overtime regulations, human rights, child labor standards, and more). These certification regimes take many shapes, from student-led schemes like the Workers Rights Consortium, industry-NGO partnerships like the Fair Labor Association, to company specific codes of conduct from corporations like Levi Strauss and Nike. (Note that FLA data does not reflect a major revision from April 2002.)
This Excel spreadsheet compares the various apparel regimes along multiple criteria. There are links to help navigate the spreadsheet. Click on the links at the top of the columns to view a single regime along all of the criteria. Click on the links to the left of the rows to view how the different regimes compare along one criterion.
Organic Food Production:
People are concerned about the quality of the food that they purchase to feed themselves and their families. Organic certification arose as a way to ensure that foods being sold as "organic" really represented foodstuffs produced in an "organic" fashion. This portion of the project compiles a comparison of organic production certification criteria such as transition time to organic, manure requirements, crop rotation requirements and seed inputs. Certification bodies range from the European Union to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements to Farm Verified Organic which is accredited for the IFOAM.