2021 Undergraduate Research Highlights

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Ivan Shestopalov: This undergraduate thesis in political science at MIT explores the short-term cross-national effects of terrorist attacks on public opinion and the determinants of the heterogenous salience of terrorism across national borders. I exploit the fact that the annual Eurobarometer survey in November 2015 was intersected by a series of terrorist attacks in Paris (including the Bataclan Theater attack) to examine the effect of several variables at both the individual and national-level on terrorism's salience to the individual. Preliminary results suggest a person's physical distance from attack locus, access and consumption to media sources such as TV and the internet, ideological leaning, and personal financial situation significantly affect public perceptions of the threat of terrorism on their communities.




Southern Connecticut State University

Irene Machia: This research project was completed as a summative analysis of my internship experience in the Spring semester of 2020. It combines my academic research on school inequalities in the United States with my personal experience working with at-risk youth in the greater New Haven area. This paper assesses a case study of the methods used by a local educational non-profit to support students and families that are facing systemic barriers, while also considering the greater policy changes that would be necessary to eliminate those barriers altogether. The sudden impact of the COVID-19 pandemic added another dimension to these studies and brought to light previously unrealized issues facing students and families. My findings through this internship experience have deepened an understanding of educational policy in America and will continue to inspire my work as a public school educator and activist.

Royal Military College of Canada

Bordeleau[47212286]OCdt Jean-Nicolas Bordeleau, an Honours Political Science and Psychology student at the Royal Military College of Canada, conducted a unique research study as part of his undergraduate honours thesis, titled "Does Electoral Intervention Rhetoric Influence Voters’ Behaviors and Attitudes? Empirical Evidence From a Survey Study."  

The study explores the impact of electoral interventions and interference rhetoric on the attitudes and behavior of voter. It asks: Are voters aware of foreign electoral interventions less trustworthy of the democratic process? Do voters become more polarized when exposed to foreign influence attempts? Are voters more likely not to go vote if they are aware of foreign influence? This research project examines the impact of knowledge of foreign electoral interventions on voters using an experimental vignette design. These impacts include attitudinal changes, such as ideological polarization and loss of trust in democracy, as well as behavioural changes, including willingness to access government services and to vote. The results show that knowledge of electoral interventions has a significant impact on voter’s trust in the electoral process. However, being aware of electoral interventions did not influence voter’s intention to vote, nor did it influence their openness to alternative methods of registration and voting. This study draws from elaboration likelihood model theory and rational choice theory to explain these results. 

The study was conducted under the supervision of Dr. Holly Ann Garnett, at the Elections and Democracy Laboratory ( http://hollyanngarnett.com/lab) at the Royal Military College of Canada/Queen's University. The lab currently houses the Electoral Integrity Project ( https://www.electoralintegrityproject.com/).