International Studies


Seniors and juniors who previously has not participated in the honors program may qualify as a candidate for Departmental Honors in International Studies based on the student's grade-point average. Students with at least 74 semester hours credit who have a grade point average of 3.20 or better on all college work attempted, who have completed at least 30 semester hours of work with a 3.20 or better grade point average at UNCW, and who are recommended by the director of International Studies are eligible to enroll in INT 499, six-credit Departmental Honors thesis.

The Departmental Honors thesis culminates in independent study under the supervision of a faculty member in International Studies. This independent study must be completed in two three-credit hour semesters or three two-credit hour semesters. The results of the honors thesis is presented orally before an examining committee.

For more information, see: Completing Departmental Honors

Spring 2019

  • Cassie Weaver (Spring 2019) Understanding the Romanian Ban on International Adoptions (Supervisor: Dr. Florentina Andreescu)
Abstract: Romania’s transition from a socialist to a democratic society following the Fall of Communism in 1989 has had ubiquitous impacts, especially for the country’s orphans. While the number of children under state custody has decreased dramatically since then, there are still 60,000 abandoned children and infants that are housed in orphanages and foster care systems. Engaging with an autoethnographic method, that allows my own experiences volunteering with a nonprofit organization during the summer of 2018 to be brought into focus, this research seeks to analyze the different political, economic, and cultural motivations for the implementation of the current ban on international adoption. This ban on international adoption of Romanian orphans has been in place since 2005. By studying both the benefits and disadvantages of the ban, I aim to propose various courses of action for preserving the best interests of Romania’s orphans as the country continues to move forward.

Spring 2018

  • Stacia Dwelle (Spring 2018) Analysis of the Critical Endangerment of the Vaquita Porpoisein Mexico's Gulf of California (Supervisor: Dr. Herb Berg)
    Abstract: The vaquita (Phocoena sinus) is the most endangered marine mammal in the world and its survival is closely linked with the history of the totoaba (Totoaba macdonaldi). Fishery gillnets have posed the greatest threat to vaquita and may cause its extinction only 60 years after the scientific discovery of the species. Other marine mammal histories of endangerment include the baiji (Lipotes vexillifer), Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus), and eastern tropical Pacific (ETP) tuna-dolphin problem. The conservation effort success of these histories will be evaluated toward the situation of the vaquita. International investment to save the vaquita from extinction came too late and the species will likely be extinct within the next few years. Looking forward, it is important to consider the interdisciplinarity of marine mammal conservation and give more consideration to the sustainability needs of communities surrounding the species.
  • Shannon Schaible (Spring 2018) Democracy and Islam in Egypt: An Examination of the Dirvers Opionions of and within the Wafd Party, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Islamists (Supervisor: Dr. Herb Berg)
    Abstract: Democratization in the Middle East has a tumultuous history, filled with traumatizing memories of imperialism and war and plagued with political controversies. Attempting to define an “ideal” democracy and generalizing the relationship between democracy and the Middle East oversimplifies the concept and erases the complexity of a region that is so diverse and multifaceted. Democracy and Islam will be examined through an analysis of Egypt’s complex history, political parties, and religious groups. Occasional spells of stability have generated times of parliamentary democracy, only to be followed by phases of military dictatorships and periods of “Arab Socialism” and rising Islamism. The Wafd party, Egypt’s liberal political party, The Muslim Brotherhood, and Islamists will be closely examined. These three groups have different views and opinions on democracy, positive and negative depending on different factors, and this variation suggests there is nothing definitive in Islam for or against democracy.
  • Morgan Hildebrecht (Spring 2018) Comparison of the Suppy and Demand of Sex Trafficking in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia (Supervisor: Dr. Herb Berg)
    Abstract: Sex Trafficking, a form of human trafficking consists of forcing a person perform sex acts, is prominent and problematic in the regions of Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. Bulgaria and Romania, and Thailand and the Philippines, respectively, serve as case studies to compare the supply and demand factors of the sex trafficking market in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. Growth Eastern European market can be contributed to the collapse of the USSR and the shift from communism to a capitalist market, while the growth of the Southeast Asian market can be contributed to Western military occupation during the Vietnam and the Korean War. Sex trafficking is impossible to eradicate as it would require the total elimination of either the supply or the demand for illicit commercial sex acts. The legalization of sex work has been hypothesized as potential strategies, but nothing has proved effective in combatting sex trafficking through halting the supply and demand.  
  • Helen Rogalski (Spring 2019) Measuring Gender Inequality in the Middle East: Iran, Saudi Arbia, and Egypt through the United Nations GII  (Supervisor: Dr. Herb Berg)
    Abstract: The Middle East has gained global attention for the societal and economic status of women. The region is made up of 22 countries spread over three continents, with complex domestic and international issues. Due to the diversity of the region and the differences in complex political and religious, often Islamic, systems, measuring gender inequality is a difficult task. However, the United Nations Gender Inequality Index (GII) offers a strong effort at measuring the economic, empowerment, and health based gender issues of 188 countries across the world, scoring and ranking them numerically. Using this as a foundation for assessing gender inequality in the Middle East, three diverse countries of the region—Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt—are used as case studies of what their GII score is, its significance, and what it may be missing. The conclusion chapter highlights the overall strengths and weaknesses of the GII, especially in its representation of the Middle East, and provides suggestions for improvement.

Spring 2017

  • Julia Hagarty (Spring 2017) Transboundary Riparian Management: A Case Study of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway and the Mekong River (Supervisor: Dr. Herb Berg)
    Abstract: The rapid hydroelectric development on the Mekong River is a complex issue in southeast Asia. In order to develop a model for effective management of the river, this thesis studies the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River and the Mekong River. The aim is to see if and how the former can serve as a model for the latter; with regards to the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence, the International Joint Commission (IJC) has dealt with many conflicts and problems of transboundary waters management. Despite the contextual factors aiding the IJC in its success, such a governing body could work on the Mekong. A key challenge is developing common interest among the countries involved. In North America, the development of a seaway was mutually beneficial and this facilitated cooperation, whereas the Mekong is more complex, and at least one of the stakeholders, China, is hesitant to cooperate in meaningful ways.

Spring 2016

  • Sawyer Thomas (Spring 2016) The Effects of Religious and Cultural Values on Fertility Rates and Human Population Growth (Supervisor: Dr. Herb Berg)
    Abstract: Human population growth is a major global concern with regards to environmental and social issues. This thesis contains case studies in three different regions of the world: Central America, North and West Africa, and Southwest Asia. In each region, two countries with contrasting fertility rates are examined by comparing overall development, the status of women, access to and use of contraceptives, and sexual health education in order to determine which factors are most important to fertility rates. There are many obstacles in decreasing population growth, but one overarching theme is the influence of religious and cultural values. In order to keep human population at a sustainable level, countries with high fertility rates must 1) increase access to contraceptives and sexual health education, 2) elevate the legal and social status of women, and 3) most importantly, involve religious leaders in family planning initiatives.

Spring 2015

  • Tobi Polland (Spring 2015) A Case Study of a Transformational Model of Corporate Social Responsibility Integrated into the Mining Supply Chain of South Africa and Recommenations for Future Growth (Supervisor: Dr. Herb Berg)
    Abstract: The scope, definition, effective applications, and rationales for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) have significantly evolved especially in the past decade causing a global trend in redefining business strategies. The mining industry in South Africa exemplifies one of the most significant transformations: shifting from exploitative imperialism to serving as key component in development, empowerment, and the betterment of society. After analyzing the case study and comparing it to the leaders in socially responsible supply chains as well as to leaders in the global mining industry, recommendations are made for further improvement specific to South Africa. The research concludes that in order for CSR to be effective, CSR must be integrated throughout mining supply chains to address root causes and devise an optimal strategy for enabling win-win situations with public partnerships, applying technology to improve efficiency and reduce negative impacts, and enhancing CSR impact through better resource allocation and research.
  • Kelsey Smith (Spring 2015) The Cyprus Dispute: The History of the Ethnic Segregation of Cyprus and How the Island Can Reunify (Supervisor: Dr. Herb Berg)
    Abstract: Cyprus, a Mediterranean island strategically located about 40 miles from the southern coast of Turkey, has been artificially divided for the past four decades. Although throughout hundreds of years of history Cyprus has been multiethnic and primarily peaceful, in more recent history Greek and Turkish Cypriots have had tensions rise between them, tensions that were fostered during Ottoman and British rule. For a brief period, both sides lived in unity after Cyprus gained its independence in 1960. Peace did not last long because Turkey invaded the island in 1974, killing and displacing thousands. The state of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, unrecognized by the rest of the world, was then established in 1983. The international community has long attempted to reunite the country through peace negotiations but has been unsuccessful because not all crucial issues have been addressed, a national Cypriot identity has not been cultivated, and the leaders of the two communities have not been willing to compromise. It would be beneficial for all parties involved if Cyprus were be reunite; reunion could mean profiting from new energy findings in the Eastern Mediterranean and tourism for both Cypriot communities, the possibility of EU accession for Turkey, the end of international isolation for the Turkish Cypriots, and a stronger, united member-state for the EU. In order for Cyprus to reunite, the international community will have to change its approach in solving the issue. Accurate, unbiased history will have to be taught to Cypriots and Cypriot nationalism will have to be encouraged. All issues, including security, will have to be addressed during the process. The EU will have to provide more motivation for all sides to find a solution. Finally, the leaders of Cyprus must be willing to compromise and form a bicommunal federation in Cyprus.
  • Emily Manning (Smith 2015) Colombia's Peace Process: An analysis of the peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC (Supervisor: Dr. Jennifer Horan)
    Abstract: The approach of this thesis is interdisciplinary. Its goal is to examine the points of the peace talks between the Colombian government and the FARC by considering historical, economic, political, and other related factors and to draw conclusions about the peace process and its effectiveness using theories of conflict management and transitional justice. This thesis is divided into five chapters with the first four chapters exploring a specific talking point of the peace process: Land Reform, Political Participation, Illicit Drugs and Victims' Rights. The fifth chapter explores the questions of disarmament and implementation while analyzing the obstacles that the Colombian government and the FARC will face drawing the talks to a peaceful end.
  • Kelly McNeal (Spring 2015) Preventing Dutch Disease from Turning into the Resource Curse: Nigeria, Chile, and Norway (Supervisor: Dr. Herb Berg)
    Abstract: This thesis examines the presence or absence of the resource curse in three resource-abundant nations: Nigeria, Chile, and Norway. In Nigeria resource curse problems exist due to corruption that resulted from lack of legitimate institutions and rule of law. The mismanagement of the oil rents that flooded Nigeria's economy, wealth from its oil was allocated badly and spent inefficiently. Chile is endowed with copper resources that produced an industry that was at the heart of political turmoil. The country has since returned to democracy and has practiced fiscal rule that has managed the copper revenues strictly. Norway has suffered least from the resource because the country had already developed strong political and economic institutions before oil was discovered. Its sovereign wealth fund is managed similarly to Chile's. Although the country now faces the exhaustion of its oil resources but the economic consequences are not perceived to be threatening. I argue that Dutch disease is the real consequence of a resource endowment that negatively affects a country's development, but political instability does not come as a result of natural resources, but rather from weak rule of law and illegitimate institutions. Only then does the disease become a curse.

Fall 2014

  • Erin Gallagher (Spring 2015) "The Land of Childhood," "The Dark Mantle of Night": Historical Imaginaries of Africa in the Western Gaze as Seen through the Iconongraphy of Modern-Day Aid (Supervisor: Dr. Florentina Andreescu)
    Abstract: In this thesis, I explore how Africa is included in the Western imaginary, specifically through historical images and modern aid iconography. I examine early visual representations, such as those of Saartje Baartman, to current day "poverty pornography" depictions which saturate marketing campaigns of NGOs and international aid institutions. I argue that these representations rely on three rhetorical commonplaces: The Body, The Child and The Woman, and The Victim. The deployment of these commonplaces creates a perception of Africa as an objectified, infantile, and feminine victim of a traumatic past and a troubled present. These commonplaces reinforce preexisting core-periphery power relations and undermine aid itself. I analyze these pervasive commonplaces through a relational constructivist lens, using insights from the literature on abjection, trauma, phantasy and imagined communities to uncover how it is that these images create and re-create imaginaries, where they come from, how they are used politically, and how they affect Africa, the West, and aid.

Spring 2014

  • Shelby Grace Johnson (Spring 2015), Child Soldiers: Failures of the Global North. (Supervisor: Dr. Herb Berg)
    Abstract: In the last two decades, there has been increased attention on the use of child soldiers. Many large governmental entities, like the United Nations, International Criminal Court and United States, have made laws regarding them, and the media has spotlighted the plight of the modern day child soldier. Two of the most publicized groups, for their use of children as combatants, are Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front (RUF). This paper first provides a comprehensive background of the LRA and RUF. These backgrounds include their history, their use of child soldiers, and where they are now. Next there is an analysis of the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of the Global North's laws and programs for child soldiers. Finally, this paper offers suggestions for short term improvements to these existing laws and programs.
  • Gongtao (Tom) Sun (Spring 2014), China's Minority Policy (1933-2013): A Core-Periphery Analysis. (Supervisor: Dr. Paige Tan)
    : The possibility of China's collapse as a result of internal pressure has been an impending concern of the Chinese Communist Party since the Tiananmen protests of 1989. Revolution has appeared as a motif throughout China's history, but until the crisis, the Chinese Communist Party was confident in its ability to maintain control. Subsequently Tiananmen has been cited as the ebb of Chinese Communist rule. At the turn of the millennium, predictions of China's imminent collapse made headway, citing the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, a cognate system, as a cogent example. The Soviet Union's fragmentation along the lines of former autonomous republics brought the role of ethnic-nationalism in the former state's demise into question. In order to maintain unity against ethnic-nationalism, which facilitates and precipitates state collapse, and prevent separation along ethno-territorial lines, it is imperative for China, having witnessed the demise of other one-party systems, to reign in its minority issue. The recent conclusion of Hu Jintao's presidential term on March 13, 2013 allows for an updated retrospective analysis of the Chinese Communist Party's policy towards ethnic-minorities. This project analyzes the minority issue using a core-periphery framework. Its objective is to address the prospect of separation or explain how the result might occur. Its primary assertion is that separation is a function of ethnic nationalism, core weakness, and external pull. As a subsidiary, it explains how an interaction between shearing variables, such ethnic nationalism and external pull, and compacting variables, which includes a vast array of consensual and coercive mechanisms, occurs within the core-periphery system. A case study, which focused on one nationality subset, was used to validate the assertion. The Uighur of Xinjiang Province were selected because incidents such as the Kunming stabbing, which occurred on March 2, 2014, serve as consistent reminders of their cause for separation.