Awards and Accolades

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Outstanding Thesis Award

This award recognizes outstanding quality in a Global Studies major’s final project. Our program is unique in its multidisciplinary approach to understanding the global and its emphasis on combining rigorous critical inquiry with active engagement towards social transformation and justice. The wide range of thesis projects our seniors have embarked upon reflect that orientation and commitment.

We base these awards on a range of criteria: academic rigor, depth and breadth of research; demonstration of the ability to formulate a cogent research project and put it into action; engagement with questions of social transformation; nuanced exploration of a subject; layered and precise analysis; clear, effective and compelling writing; and of course, the ability to do all these things within a deadline!


2012-13 Outstanding Thesis Award

Anita Willcox
“Transnational E-Waste Flows: The Case of a Toxic Trashline and Its Cycle of Environmental Justice”

With the development of information technology and the rate of electronic consumption across the world, electronic waste or e-waste poses one of the greatest challenges of our post-modern high tech era. Between 20 and 50 million tons of e-waste are produced globally on an annual basis. The majority of this waste finds its way to developing countries for its final resting place, causing irreparable damage to human health and the environment. Global governance frameworks that attempt to regulate this global e-waste trash line find their ameliorative efforts undermined by the very nature of capitalism and national agendas in international conversations. The e-waste trash line also reveals an entire socio-economic structure within the developing world that is sustained by finding value in the developed world’s trash. Indeed the intersection of demand from developing countries and international relations in global environmental politics and political economy renders the narrative of e-waste transboundary flows far more complex than they appear.

Anita Willcox’s project tackles the challenges of regulating the flows of electronic waste, focusing on Ghana as its case study. The thesis combines information from in-depth research and interviews with actors embedded in the process she is investigating into a well-structured, multi-level analysis of the challenges of regulating e-waste transboundary flows. The thesis demonstrates tremendous knowledge both of the relevant technical physical sciences as well as matters related to governance, multilateral agreements, and social conditions. The final product is an excellent thesis that shows both the limits of political action so far both within Ghana and at the international level, and the way that the economic value of “trash” ensures it a place in the import-export cycle of the global economy.


Sofya Omelchenko
“China’s Involvement in Peace Processes in Africa”

China is on a steady track to becoming a leader in the peacekeeping field. At present, over 2,000 Chinese peacekeepers are deployed each year, mostly in Africa, where China has significant investments that correspond with its economic and political interests. However, little research has been done to comprehensively analyze how China’s activities in Africa affect the continent’s fragile and post-conflict states. Through a multi-level analysis of China’s participation in international peacekeeping operations and of the effects its bilateral relations with individual African states have on the establishment of sustainable and lasting peace, this paper aims to answer two questions: First, how have China’s policies and actions influenced peace processes in Africa? And how can China enhance its engagement strategies to make constructive contributions to peace on the continent?
This paper analyzes four case studies: Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Darfur and South Sudan, each of which illustrates a different side of China’s involvement in peace processes in Africa. Because its policy decisions are made on a case by case basis due to the complex interplay of China’s national interests and the unique context of each conflict, China has served both as a driver and a spoiler of peace. The paper concludes by drawing on the identified patterns that have worked to strengthen peace in the past and suggests ways in which China could minimize the negative effects of its involvement in Africa and enhance its constructive contributions to building a lasting peace in fragile African states.

Sofya Omelchenko’s thesis analyzes the different approaches China has taken in its involvement in peacekeeping processes in Africa, focusing on four case studies that each demonstrate a different set of strategies: Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Darfur, and South Sudan. Her thesis addresses a gap in the existing research, and combines extensive research with outstanding writing and clear and insightful analysis. The work is particularly effective in accomplishing a clear overview of China’s changing attitude towards the UN and peacekeeping, and shows China’s ability to deploy its symbolic power purposefully and carefully. The analytical rigor and clear structuring is commensurate with that found in a Master’s level thesis.


2011-12 Outstanding Thesis Award

Ariane Mallon
“Between Two Worlds: The Construction of Iranian-American Identity in an Age of Extremes.”

This project offers a portrait of four individuals, my mother, aunt, and uncles, all of which were born and raised in Tehran, Iran, emigrated between the span of 1976-2000, and now live and reside in Buffalo, NY. Narration and analysis of their personal stories offers the reader a glimpse into the Iranian experience in America by focusing in on and understanding the formation of Iranian-American identities. This essay begins with an overview of the causes and characteristics of their emigration and proceeds to explain how the individual creates and perpetuates its identity. As much as my subjects make their own identity, it is not always under their control. I show how external forces, specifically aspects of mainstream American culture, cause the immigrant to be sensitive towards how they are perceived. This causes them to alter their behavior by striving to become more “white” and hiding their differences within its presence. The ensuing dual identity is characterized by an Iranian diasporic identity with Iranian cultural traditions as well as an embracing of notions of American civic nationalism. My family members serve as representatives of pre- and post-Iranian revolution migration (1978-1979), providing an alternative narrative to the stereotypes and popular imaginings of Iran.

Ariane Mallon’s thesis does an excellent job of showing how migrants adapt and integrate at the micro-level, and in doing so provides an important corollary to macro-level academic writing on this subject. By focusing on family history through structured and semi-structured interviews, Mallon shows the nuances of migration that statistical data cannot fully convey. She uses qualitative methods and personal narratives effectively to illustrate common experiences in a scholarly manner that retains the force of individual stories. The research is highly original. The data is presented in an informative manner and is critically and insightfully interpreted. Mallon’s thesis does a very good job of contextualizing the case in the wider scope of Iranian migration as well as migration and diasporas more generally, and shows a serious engagement with the material.



Honorable Mention

2012-13 Honorable Mention

Phelicia Magnusson
“Articulating Change on Franklin Avenue”

“Articulating Change On Franklin Avenue” is an ethnographic study of how community actors in Central Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, on Franklin Avenue, are dealing across cultural, racial, and economic lines of difference within the context of gentrification. To dissect the narrative of change being produced and consumed about the Franklin Avenue community, this thesis explores the historic representation of Crown Heights in the media, and the present representation of Franklin Avenue as the “epicenter of gentrification” and a place of “unease”. Using frameworks from Elijah Anderson and Sharon Zukin, this thesis considers the roles of authenticity, consumption, social capital and race as factors that shape gentrification and affect spatial inclusion.
This thesis argues for recognition of the efforts made by longtime residents to push for the changes now taking place in the community, and a consideration of the present unease experienced by community actors as stemming from the systematic creation of prejudice and tensions surrounding racial exclusion within the wider historical context of the policies and actions that came out of The Great Migration, White flight, and de-industrialization.

Phelicia Magnusson’s project is an ethnographic study of how community actors in Central Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood, on Franklin Avenue, are dealing across cultural, racial, and economic lines of difference within the context of gentrification. Her analysis is thoughtful, compelling, attuned to the complexity of the issues, sensitive and grounded. It integrates the existing literature with a close personal study to offer a cogent, lucid, and extremely well written analysis, and is particularly effective in delineating the actual strands of cultural capital production and circulation across multiple lines of difference.


Teresa Dorothea Eggers
“Art and the Global City: Understanding the Contemporary Art Scene of Istanbul”

This thesis seeks to explain the swift emergence of Istanbul’s contemporary art scene over the last ten years by focusing on key components of art infrastructure in the city. With this purpose, the paper investigates how the contemporary art scene of Istanbul is produced, examines its growth within political, economic and social frameworks, and illustrates how the resulting art scene reflects the unique time and space of its creation. Converging interests of the current government regime, business, civil society and art enthusiasts are the basic points of analysis. Within this context, the role of contemporary art in mediating Turkish identity between Ottoman and European narratives, and between secular and traditional ideologies, is discussed. The expansion of the contemporary art scene is explored in relation to Neoliberalism, cultural policy and philanthropy, and finally, the political implications are surveyed. Related interviews, observations from site visits, and secondary research decipher the contemporary art scene of Istanbul.

Teresa Eggers’ thesis seeks to explain the swift emergence of Istanbul’s contemporary art scene over the last ten years by focusing on key components of art infrastructure in the city. It effectively combines material from site visits, participant observation, secondary research and interviews to produce a lively and well-structured multi-level analysis that includes both institutional politics as well as a map of political repression and cultural conventions that mediate the production and circulation of art in Istanbul. Her thesis elegantly captures the way contemporary art serves as a site for the negotiation of identity and (geo)politics in the framework of a global economy.


2011-12 Honorable Mention

Elizabeth Catlin
“‘No Human is Illegal:’ Undocumented Youth Activism for the DREAM Act and Beyond.”

This thesis seeks to analyze how U.S. society and law has constructed undocumented status and denied rights to the undocumented population based on this status. It aims to represent how the contemporary undocumented activism, which formed in light of the introduction of the federal DREAM Act, is challenging this denial of rights. It will provide a history of the origins of undocumented status and outline the way in which the question of undocumented personhood, status and rights has been debated in U.S. law, specifically in the Supreme Court case of Pyler v. Doe. This case ruled that it is unconstitutional to deny undocumented youth access to K-12 public education. Current undocumented activism around the DREAM act is addressing the limits of Plyler v. Doe, as it speaks to undocumented life and rights after high school. Yet, in fighting for the DREAM Act, undocumented activists are also acknowledging its limitations and extending their fight beyond the DREAM Act and beyond documented status through their demand that “No Human is Illegal.”

Elizabeth Catlin’s thesis conveys both the historical context and personal implications of contemporary debates about the DREAM Act, which seeks to allow undocumented migrant youth in the US a path to education, residency and citizenship. She presents a genealogy of the DREAM Act in US immigration history and show how today’s struggle for recognition and rights is part of a larger struggle over the borders of identity and power congealed in the apparatus of the modern nation state. Catlin successfully weaves together historical context, theory, and contemporary issues and uses secondary and primary sources to good effect. Her original interview-based research shows creativity, ability, and motivation in pursuing a subject that bridges scholarly analysis and activism.


Lang Senior Graduation Award

Elizabeth Catlin and Joel Arken received the Lang Senior Graduation Award in 2012 for their phenomenal work. More information on these Outstanding Work award recipients can be found by visiting


David S. Woods Humanitarian Award

The David S. Woods Humanitarian Award recognizes a graduating senior for exceptional, ongoing involvement in humanitarian service to the community. It acknowledges a commitment to service not recognized by other means, motivated instead by the altruism of the student. The honoree must have an outstanding academic and service record, showing evidence of having extended herself or himself in an unusual degree to help others. This award was established in honor of David S. Woods, a New York City youth who died coming to the service of another.

For two years in a row, this award has been given to graduating seniors in Global Studies. The recipient for the 2013 Humanitarian Award was Rachel Stine, and the recipient for the 2012 humanitarian award was Elizabeth Catlin.


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