Research 
Projects

“Flight Over Might in the Face of Conflict: The Effectiveness of Conventional Deterrence”​

By ​Dan Fitzgerald

School/Major: BA in International Studies (School of International Service and BA in Economics (College of Arts and Sciences)

Faculty Mentor: Professor Benjamin Jensen


Description: The rise of modernized and efficient militaries competing for dominance against the United States’ military presence (e.g. North China Sea, Eastern Ukraine, etc.) has resulted in increased eruptions of conflict globally. The question that should be asked before formulating strategies to de-escalate these situations is if conventional crisis management techniques such as force deployment, have a positive effect on the response to crises triggers. The answer for this research will come from testing the level of hazard for conflict through cox proportional hazard regression based on US troop levels and position during the time difference between conflicts in singular countries. The results from this research should provide greater insight into future military policies toward conflict situations and whether troop deployment is the effective.    


 “If You See Something, Do You Say Something?: The Role of Legitimacy and Trust in Policing Minority and Immigrant Communities in Counterterrorism”

By Erin Kearns

School/Major: PhD in Justice Law and Criminology (School of Public Affairs)

Faculty Mentor: Professor Joseph K. Young


Description: Why do some members of minority communities alert police to crime – specifically potential extremist violence – while others don’t? I argue that the decision to alert police to crime is rational, and that rationality is constrained by views of law enforcement generally and individual officers, and cultural factors. Data for this project comes a national sample of Caucasians, African Americans and Hispanics using a survey-embedded experiment. Preliminary results indicate that people are more likely to report: a) interpersonal crimes versus property crimes, b) when the police are respective or effective versus disrespectful or ineffective, and c) when they would have community support or can report anonymously. 



“The Persuasive Effects of Extremist Imagery”

By Nicole Wilson 

School/Major: MS in Justice, Law, and Criminology (School of Public Affairs)

Faculty Mentor: Professor Thomas Zeitzoff


Description: This is a two-part project of the visual propaganda disseminated by extremist groups, using images available on the Internet from both the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and the Three Percenters – a right-wing militia group prepared to resist government restriction of gun ownership and constitutional rights. Though both Islamist and right-wing groups have been independently noted for their emotionally-charged propaganda, there is little understanding of what actually happens when individuals are exposed to this visual messaging. The project includes a descriptive study, allowing for comparison between the two groups and identification of the typical image features using both computer vision image analysis and human coding. Additionally, we will test the effects of the images on attitudes related to the groups and their views, using an online survey experiment design and a sample of U.S. adults.


“Foreign Fighters and Lethality in Civil Wars”

By Alexander Clayton

School/Major: PhD in Justice Law and Criminology (School of Public Affairs)

Faculty Mentor: Professor Tricia Bacon


Description: All foreign fighters are not equal in terms of the impact they have on the conflicts they join. Yet little research has focused on the variation in impact that local foreign fighters - as opposed to distant ones - can have on conflicts. I utilize a novel dataset on foreign fighter participation and battle-related deaths in 134 civil conflicts from 1989-2014 to empirically assess the relationship between foreign fighters and lethality. Somewhat counterintuitively, I find that distant foreign fighters are substantively and statistically associated with much higher numbers of battle deaths in a conflict, whereas local ones are not.





“Divided They Fight: How the Structure of Conflict Explains Variation in Foreign Fighters' Impact”

By Alaa Chaker

School/Major: BA in Political Science (School of Public Affairs) and BS in Mathematics and Economics (College of Arts and Sciences)

Faculty Mentor: Professor Tricia Bacon


Description: How structural factors of conflicts, such as whether the opposition forces are fragmented or united, affect the varying impact of foreign fighters remains poorly understood in the nascent literature. Drawing on examples from Afghanistan, my research traces how the structure of an insurgency, specifically one that is fragmented with multiple players versus one where a singular group dominates, constrains or empowers foreign fighters’ ability to impact a conflict. 

“Street Cleaning: Why Individuals Support Extrajudicial Killings”

By Sydney A. Bender

School/Major: PhD in Justice Law and Criminology (School of Public Affairs)

Faculty Mentor: Professor Thomas Zeitzoff


Description: Why do individuals support extrajudicial killing? We seek to identify the individual determinants of support for extrajudicial punishment taking into account local and national factors. Drawing on public opinion data from LAPOP, violent events data (Social Conflict Analysis Database and the Global Terrorism Database), and Quality of Governance data, we use a hierarchical model to identify determinants of support for extrajudicial punishment cross-nationally. We further exploit variation in the location and timing of jail breaks in Mexico to causally identify the effects of impunity on support for extrajudicial punishment.


“The logic of (not-) governing: Selective state-building toward ungoverned space in Southeast Asia”

By Min J. Kim

School/Major: PhD in International Relations (School of International Service)

Faculty Mentor: Professor Boaz Atzili 


Description: Why do some governments in Southeast Asia seek to govern challenging territory but seemingly ignore other areas? This research examines variations in state policies toward insurgent groups and ethnic minorities in the highlands of Thailand, Burma, and Laos where state presence was minimal. Rather than focusing on state weakness and associated structural constraints, this project explores the interests and preferences of state agents to explain the selection of state-building policies within internal frontier areas.