Currently viewing the tag: "thesis"

The Tufts Digital Library each year collects and catalogues Fletcher students’ capstone projects, which can then be found from the research section of the Fletcher web site.  Each year I see the call for capstones, but fail to note when they are available online.  So with considerable delay, let me point you toward the capstones for the class of 2015 and earlier.  With topics ranging from South-South Technology Cooperation to Terrorism and Freedom of Expression: An Econometric Analysis, the titles provide a nice picture of the scope of interests among Fletcher students.

I’ll try to link to the most recent capstones as soon as they’re available later this fall.

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An enduring tradition, the “thes-ku.”  For many years now, a graduating student has come forward to unleash the flood of procrastination-inducing capstone-inspired poetry.  The concept: capture the content of your capstone in haiku format (that is, three lines with five, seven, and five syllables).  Please find below a sampling of the capstone titles and related thes-kus.  Note that many, but not all, students write a traditional thesis to fulfill the capstone requirement.  Also note that I have snagged these off the Social List and am sharing them without attribution, but without objection from their writers.

One student wrote that she “mostly wrote a thesis just so I could summarize it in haiku format.”  Whether that’s 100% true or not, her thes-ku leads the collection:

Wired for Geopolitics: Incentives Shaping Technology Companies’ International Policy Decisions
Google runs the world
Because they want more profit?
It’s not that simple.

War Without Weapons: A History of International Politics in Sport and the Future of North Korea
Sports matter to Kim
It’s ideological
Let’s play together!

Systematically Seeking Shared Value: An Analysis of USAID Public-Private Partnerships
Once about leverage
Now shared value is our thing
Finding it is hard

Promoting Pluralism or Patronage?: Parliamentary Electoral System Design in Timor-Leste
East Timor elects
Few parties despite system.
Pacts spread patronage.

The Role of Congress in Offensive Cyber Operations
No one likes Congress
Cyber is so hot right now
…Checks and balances?

Fractured Lives: Personal Narratives of the Chinese Cultural Revolution
Parents’ old stories
Have historical value
Who would’ve thunk it?

Feminism on the Field: Changing Attitudes about Girls’ Soccer in Southern Morocco
Girls play soccer too
Attitudes are hard to change
These girls are badass

Doing Harm: How Humanitarian Organizations Have Exacerbated Identity Conflict in Myanmar’s Rakhine State
Conflict is the worst
But humanitarians
Could be the worst-est.

From the Jamba to Christian Dior: Fashion Trends and Regime Preservation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Kim likes fashion
Don’t be hatin’ on his vogue
It’s all political

Paying for Performance: Policy Reform to Improve Maternal and Child Health Outcomes in Rural Bihar
Conditional cash
Sometimes it just ain’t enough
Systems change vital.

The PPA Crutch: The Implications of Renewable Energy Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) in New England. Lessons Learned from Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA) Independent Power Producers (IPP)
Utilities sign
Power Purchase Agreements
While solar price drops.

Life after Salesforce: User Adoption and Implementation Strategy from Social Impact Organizations
Cloud computing what
UTAUT for who
Fletcher can speak tech

The Business Case for Sustainability: Developing an Environmental Vision and Strategy at a Privately-Held Retailer
Climate change is real
You’re pretty late to the game
Let’s convince your boss

Energy is Power: The Role of Oil in Self-Determination Movements with Case Studies on Iraqi Kurdistan and Greenland
Oil runs the world
revenues or resource curse
it creates new states?

A Blend in 21st Century Warfare: The Balance of Deterrence vs. Provocation
Putin Rides Big Bears
Russia is reemerging
NATO is worried

Promoting Pluralism or Patronage?: Parliamentary Electoral System Design in Timor-Leste
East Timor elects
Few parties despite system.
Pacts spread patronage.

What is Missed When Measured:  A Systematic Review of Sexual and Gender-based Violence in Conflict-Affected Populations
Gender-based violence
Such a mouthful. Hard to rhyme.
Don’t forget the men.

Survival in the Frontier Borderlands: Widespread and Opportunistic Violence, Governance, and Livelihoods in the Karamoja Cluster
Guns be a’flowin’
Cattle raided, crops stolen
State can’t stop us now

Last, but not least, as the haiku is a revered Japanese poetry form, we have a contribution from a Japanese student, who noted that a true haiku should refer to the seasons, and who implied that this is not her best-ever haiku effort.

The United Nations, Peacekeeping Operations and Assisting Sustainable Rule of Law
背中押す  (せなかおす:Se Na Ka O Su)
法の治めし (ほうのおさめし:Ho U No O Sa Me Shi)
国づくり        (くにづくり:Ku Ni Zu Ku Ri)

The translation:
Let them build RoL
No imposition, it’s culture
A long and winding road

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Earlier this semester, via the Social List, a PhD student who previously completed the MALD degree revived a several-year tradition wherein students reframe the title of their thesis in the form of a haiku.  Unfamiliar with this poetry form?  In its most basic, the haiku requires three lines of seven, five, and seven syllables.  Perhaps these thesis haikus (or thes-kus) don’t quite reach the pinnacle of haiku achievement, but they certainly frame the thesis topics well.  I tried not to pick among them and just harvested as many as I could off the Social List messages.

The Thesis Haikus

Thesis/haiku title: “Trends in youth political engagement during Tunisia’s democratic transition, 2010-2014”

We did it our way
And then we tried it their way
Neither really work.

Thesis/haiku title: “Culture and Women’s Rights: CEDAW Article 5(a) Implementation in West Africa”

Women get the shaft
Laws are trying to fix this
Culture makes it hard

“The New Frontier of development: how securitization and risk spreading in the microfinance industry can benefit development and the private sector”

Nervous investors
Development won’t hurt you
Try it, it’s awesome

“The 2014 Tunisian electoral system: implications of a semi-presidential system on the nascent democracy”

Tunisia has a new regime!
Lots of new rules
Awesome! Or is it?

“The Drivers of Russia’s Course: Russian Foreign Policy and Putin’s Fear of Revolution”

Putin is afraid
of color revolutions
and blames the U.S.

“The Evolution of Head of State Immunity for International Crimes”

Gotta extradite!
personal immunity?
Oh, never mind then.

“Beyond Isolation: Moving Past the Refugee Camp and Connecting to Home”

War and disaster
A mobile phone for the road
Connecting with home

“Food Security, Monoculture, and the Black Box: Impact and Causal Mechanisms of the Land Husbandry, Water Harvesting, and Hillside Irrigation Program in Rwanda”

Dudes ate better food
Why do we see these results?
Probably compost

“The effect of sector-specific tax incentives on Brazilian FDI inflows”

People hate taxes.
Wait, isn’t that obvious?
Yup. That’s my capstone…

“Russia’s invasion of Crimea: effects on energy geopolitics in the Caucasus and the Central Asia”

Putin hits, EU watches
Right in the middle Ukraine falls
In the end, energy talks

“Commercializing Cassava: A Case Study of SABMiller’s South Sudan Supply Chain”

Beer is real tasty
And farmers might make mo’ cash
Oh wait, there’s a war

“Migration by Choice, Not Necessity? Shifts in the Migration and Development Discourse since 2007”

If not migrant rights,
What are you really talking about?
Cue awkward silence.

“Advocating for Security Sector Reform in the Review of Peace Operations: Strategy and Analysis for United Nations Security Sector Reform Practitioners”

Not merely bullets
Governance and ownership
Listen, Ban Ki-moon

“How to Evaluate Non-State Actors for Political and Military Partnerships in Irregular Conflicts: A Case Study of the Free Syrian Army”

Wars get ugly quick.
Something called HUMINT.
Next time, read a history book.

“The new European Commission: institutional and political capacities to relaunch the European economy.”

New leaders – new will?
Or promises don’t bind?
Merkel will decide.

“A comparative analysis of transnational criminal groups in Latin America: Mexican drug cartels and Salvadoran gangs — an overview of trends and responses”

Both are really bad
Monkey see, monkey do… eek!
Governments are slow

“Progress, Opportunity, Prosperity? A Case Study of the Digitization of a Conditional Cash Transfer Program in Mexico”

Cash money real nice
Digital road less traveled
Change is really hard

“Philippine Department Of Tourism: A Case Study Destination Branding Through “It’s More Fun In The Philippines”

Manila Thrill-ah
Islands, Beaches, FDI
And lots of traffic…

“Drivers of conflict around hydropower development in the Brazilian Amazon: from Tucurui to Tapajos”

It’s all about trust
If you screw me I screw you
As simple as that

“Navigating Nairobi: A Case Study of Digital Innovation in the Transport and Logistics Sector in Kenya”

Bus, car, bike, walk…stay?
Phone and internet, oh yay!
Twende o twende

(Twende = “let’s go” in Swahili)

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Every year, Fletcher students are invited to submit their Capstone Projects to the Tufts Digital Library’s E-Scholarship collection.  The 2014 collection hasn’t been posted yet, but there’s certainly no shortage of reading material.  Most of the submissions are traditional theses, but I’m sure that, over time, we’ll be seeing some Capstones in different formats.

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I learned about Melinda’s research, the subject of the first post on Cool Stuff Students Do, a few weeks ago, and it inspired me to gather more information about student activities that I never hear about.  Now that I’ve collected other stories (many on less academic topics) for future posts, it seems fitting to kick off this new feature with Melinda’s description of her travels for thesis research.  

Melinda

Melinda and the National Chief Imam of Ghana

I received support of my MALD thesis research through the Dean’s Research Fund.  The funding allowed me to travel over the winter break to Ghana, where I was able to interview key Muslim and Christian religious leaders in Accra, Kumasi, and Ho, three of the country’s main cities in three different regions.  This primary data will give depth to my analysis of the role of religious leaders in promoting nonviolence and addressing conflict in society, and of the challenges they face in doing so.  The financial support was instrumental in facilitating this opportunity to address such a profound issue in my Fletcher capstone project.

I’ve included a photograph of myself with the National Chief Imam of the Republic of Ghana, Sheikh Dr. Osmanu Nuhu Sharubutu, an amazing and highly respected figure whom I was able to meet during my trip, and whose office hosted me most graciously.  I met the colleague who facilitated my work, Alhaji Khuzaima Mohamed Osman, the Executive Secretary for the National Chief Imam, during my internship last summer with The Carter Center.  It is only through that relationship that I was able to conduct the research I did in Ghana.

In addition to my research, while in Ghana I was on the English language Islamic television program, IQRA, hosted by Sheikh Imam Muhammad Hussaini Bagnya, who is also a graduate student of governance and leadership at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration.  I appeared twice, the first time on a program of solidarity for Christmas, and the second on a program discussing coexistence and tolerance with an interfaith panel of guests.

I was also in attendance at the Office of the National Chief Imam’s New Year’s Eve event, where I was invited to address the gathering of community and respected religious scholars and leaders with a solidarity message.

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The Fletcher faculty has made some changes to what used to be the thesis requirement for all degree programs.  Going forward, the requirement will be for the production of a capstone project.  For some students (and their professors), this represents no change whatsoever.  They arrived at Fletcher looking forward to writing a traditional academic thesis, and that’s what they’re going to do.  For other students, this marks a welcome change.  In some fields, a thesis is not the project format that best lends itself to the presentation of two year’s worth of learning.  Here’s a little of the email Academic Dean Peter Uvin sent to students to explain the change.  (Note that this was an email sent directly to students, not an official document, hence the casual language.)  He starts by saying that, in fact, little (beyond the name of the project) has changed.

First, all degree programs always had to write a thesis, which was understood to be a traditional research project.  Now we are changing that title a bit (“capstone project”) and we are giving students more flexibility in terms of their final academic piece of work.  Over the years, many students have found the research thesis a very useful and rewarding experience, and they can continue to do this with all the professors at Fletcher.  But other students have felt that a thesis was not a particularly useful exercise, given what they would be doing after Fletcher.  We now officially allow for a broader range of choices to accommodate those students.

Second, students used to develop their thesis topics in many different ways, and this will also continue, though we will be more explicit about the need to associate the thesis writing with a course credit.  Here are the choices for how a capstone project can be developed:

◊   Students can continue to build their capstone project off a course paper;
◊   A number of professors have decided that their courses are set up in such a way that their required final product is really an excellent preparation for the capstone project. This may be because they offer a lot of methodology, or because they require a product that is very labor intensive, or because they help students develop research proposals, etc.  Those classes will now be called “incubator courses.”  Students are not obliged to take incubator courses for their capstone projects; it is simply an option.  Also: you can take these courses even if you do not want to write your capstone project through them!
◊   Students can also continue to use an independent study in order to write their capstone project.
◊   Often professors look for student assistance with research projects.  The innovation here is that we encourage professors and students who work together in this way to use that work as the basis for the capstone project.

This is all new and a work in progress. It is important to have clear discussions with your capstone supervisors to understand exactly what s/he will be looking for.  Some are going to be traditional and only want an academic thesis, whereas others are thrilled to be able to accept something else.  Some see their courses as incubators, whereas others do not.  Just talk to them.  It will all work out.  This is designed to make life more flexible and easier—not more stressful!

Our current second-year students will be the pioneers for the Capstone Projects, and I look forward to hearing about some innovative project formats.

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There’s a lot going on in Admissions this week.  Most of our admitted students need to make their enrollment decisions by tomorrow, April 20, and there has been a pretty steady stream of last-minute questions.  (How do I put together my dual degree?…Can you send me my GAMS password?…What’s your suggestion for housing?…)  By Monday, we’ll know what about 80% of the entering class will look like.  (I’m making that number up — but I think it’s about right.)

Meanwhile, continuing students are submitting their applications for scholarship renewal.  They also have many last-minute questions.  The forms are due this afternoon, so I know the office will be hoppin’ at about 4:00.

Which leaves me depending on others to create interesting blog content for me.  And combing through my inbox, I found something.  Students have compiled a list of thesis topics, along with faculty advisor, keywords, and the students’ Fields of Study.  The list contains only a portion of the theses that will be submitted this spring, but I think it provides a nice snapshot of the broad range of topics and formats.

Here’s a sample of the list:

For the full list, click here.

If you’re interested in learning more about the professors who advised a student on a specific topic, you can find them all on our website.

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The next deadline that I’ve been hearing about has nothing much to do with the Admissions Office.  This time, it’s students who are racing against the clock.  Second-year MALD and MIB students must submit their theses by tomorrow, February 15.  All Fletcher students write a thesis as a way of wrapping their coursework together and linking to their future careers.  (Those in one-year programs (the MA and the LLM) have a few extra months to complete it.)  The topic and format is up to the student and his or her advisor, and the diversity of student interests ensures there’s a wild range of topics.

In the lead-up to the deadline, Fletcher students behaved as Fletcher students do, and found a way to support each other by creating “Thesis Fridays.”  An invitation went out to the thesis-writing community:

Thesis Fridays are now officially scheduled for the rest of the semester.  Thesis Fridays are when we sit around in a room in Cabot basement and work on our theses (or whatever).  That’s all.  Sometimes we chat about them, and sometimes people get questions answered or make lucrative proofreading deals.  Sometimes we chat about other things, but we try to minimize that.  There’s nothing formal about it, but it’s a great way to get your butt in a chair for dedicated work time. Plus, misery/creativity loves company!  Just keep repeating:  Everything will be fine when I write my Master’s thesis….

I asked one of the co-creators, Rachel, to tell me more.  She said that she and another student who graduated in December came up with the idea last semester.  “We had a core group of about six or seven of us throughout the fall, sometimes up to 10 or 12. There are more this semester, since it’s (past) crunch time. I’ve definitely made a few new friends and practiced my pumpkin-bread-baking skills because of it.  🙂

Pumpkin bread isn’t the only potential caloric result of thesis productivity.  Students who submit their thesis one day early (i.e. today, Valentine’s Day) have been told, “Nothing says ‘I love you’ more than by submitting your thesis a bit early on Valentine’s Day.  So beat the rush, ahead of those getting it in on the deadline of February 15.  In return, the Registrar’s Office will show a bit of our love with some chocolate treats.”

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There are the traditions that take a generation to grow.  And then there are Fletcher traditions, which can establish themselves in the blink of an eye.  Such is the story of thesis haikus.  Scroll back one year to an unusual suggestion from one student to others that they summarize their theses as haikus.  Fletcher thesis haikus share the ancient Japanese poetry’s three line (seventeen syllable) format.  What Fletcher “thes-kus” lack in seasonal imagery, they make up for in variety and creativity.  So here is a sample of 2011 thesis titles and related haikus, submitted by students to each other at the prompting of Elspeth Suthers, whose example sets the tone:

Elspeth Suthers
Corruption and Ethnic Tensions in Georgia and Kyrgyzstan — Reconceiving the Citizen-State Relationship In the Former USSR

Kyrgyzstan. Georgia.
Governance not good for me
Stalin’s ghost laughing.

Suzanne Andrews
Savings Groups in Agriculture Projects: The Challenge of Mixed Incentives

Savings groups are great
Everyone wants a piece –
Try leaving them alone.

Vanessa Corlazzoli
What we know and don’t know about the effectiveness of Gender Based Violence Programming in Bolivia
To stop violence
Men: change your cultural norms
Nothing else will work.

Elise Crane
Bridging the Void: Social Media’s Potential to Transform Intergroup Relations in Fractured Societies

Media divides
Societies are broken;
Can e-Forums mend?

Andrew Daehne
Hip-Hop and Politics in Senegal: The Power of a Movement to Mobilize Through Music

Hip-hop, politics.
Would Senegal please stand up?
Rap, vote with your beat.

Jacqueline Deelstra
Citizen Monitoring of Government Service Delivery: Using Mobile Phones to Amplify Citizen Voice and Enforce Accountability. A case study of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda
Government neglect
People need water, teachers
SMS can help?

Eduardo Garcia
Business Savvy or Tech Savvy? Comparing uptake and returns of Business Skills Training versus Technical Skills Training

gen biz=1
generate tech=1
regress wage biz tech.

Ida Norheim Hagtun
Humanitarian Action Powered by SMS — What Are the Ethics and Accountability Implications of Using SMS to ‘Crowdsource’ Humanitarian Needs Assessments?

You gave them a say.
Now they expect proper aid.
Are you ready yo?

Trevor Keck
Blurring the Lines: When does a Civilian Lose Protection under the Laws of War
Who is a civilian and who is a combatant?
Nobody knows.
But target civilians, and you may end up at the Hague.

Laura Kuhl
From a Culture of Disaster Response to a Culture of Adaptation: Addressing Flooding and Climate Change in Honduras

Disaster response
Climate change adaptation
Time to transition.

Kimberly Lyon
Linkage or Leakage? The Jamaican Hospitality Sector’s Demand for Locally Produced Food
Small farms, big hotels.
Jamaica, no problem mon.
We import seafood.

Althea Middleton-Detzner
Corporate-Community Relations and the Role of Nonviolent Action/Civil Resistance:  The Case of Freeport-PT Mining in West Papua, Indonesia
Blockades Shut Freeport
How does company react
to People Power?

David Reidy
Who Are Those Guys? Improving Spoiler Typologies and Analyzing Motivation, Consent, and New Warfare Actors for the United Nations

Is it a spoiler?
Or perhaps insurgency?
Aren’t they the same?

JR Siegel
The Diffusion of Off-Grid Solar PV in Rural Bangladesh

Bangladesh PV
Energy dearth solution?
For the rich, it seems.

Kelsi Stine
A State of Inequality: Confronting Elite Capture in Post-conflict Guatemala
Poor Guatemala
Your corrupt elites hoard land
No peace for Mayans.

Aaron Strong
Tackling Bunker Fuel Emissions: The Evolution of Global Climate Change Policy at the International Maritime Organization

Maritime Low Down:
Bunkers Burning; Climate Change
Shipping Ain’t Ship-Shape.

Sara Van Wie
Child Victims of Grave Crimes and Violations and Their Experiences of Remedy and Reparation in Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone
Reparation for children
Access?  Not so much.

Cheney Wells
The role of remittances in Cuba’s private sector expansion: A shift in Cuba’s remittance landscape from traditional consumption purposes to productive investment use

A fresh pair of sneaks
Got Family in Miami
Show me the money!

Colin Wood
Mozambique and the Perils of Megaproject-Led Economic Development
Aluminum plant
World Bank Mozambique scheming
But where are the jobs?

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In a move of inspired creativity last week, second-year MALD student Kirstin Ellison challenged her fellow soon-to-graduate thesis-writing peers via the student email list:

Fletcher, I’ve got to tell you — my thesis is killing me.  Just now while composing my title, I happened to notice that it clocked in at a ridiculous 17 words.  The words of our esteemed Professor Perry came floating back to me — “cultivate pith!”  After all, whose advisor wants to read a wordy, boring thesis?  With this in mind, I decided to rework my thesis into a more condensed and verbally-frugal format.  Yes, Fletcher, I rewrote my thesis as … a haiku.  Why use 17 words to say what 17 SYLLABLES can cover just fine?

And thus started one of the longest email sequences I’ve ever read, with student after student appending an addition to the collection.  Here, for the first time on a blog, are Fletcher Thes-kus (thesis haikus).  A representative sample, with the poet’s name and thesis title included.

Caroline Andresen
Title:  “’Where Are Your Peacekeepers Now?’  The Protection of Civilians from Threats Posed by Armed Groups in Eastern Congo and Afghanistan”
Taliban, congo
Stop killing civilians now
Oh, wishful thinking

Hilde Berg-Hansen
Title:  ??
Three thousand words in
I still don’t have a title.
Iran, Elections

Maren Christensen
Title:  “Judicial Reform in Afghanistan:  Towards a Holistic Understanding of Legitimacy in Post-Conflict Societies”
Building Rule of Law
Legitimacy Lynch Pin
Calling all Afghans

Jamie Lynn De Coster
Title:  “Profiling Pirates: Exploring Somali Piracy in the Context of a Collapsed State”

Somali pirates
Are people too. Yet, a threat.
What should we do?  YARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR

Julia Doehrn
Title:  “‘Seeds of Terror’ or ‘Poppies for Peace’? – The Impact of Illicit Economies and Drug-Trafficking Networks on Post-Conflict Stability”

Seeds of terror, huh?
The money flows upwards though.
Stop corruption – now!

Kirstin Ellison
Title:  “Hamas’ Use of Female Suicide Bombers:  A Case Study in Militant Groups Reinterpreting Women’s Roles in Jihad”

Women in Hamas
Sometimes, they blow themselves up.
Sometimes, they don’t.  Why?

Kent Fogg
Title:  The Accession of the Western Balkans to the European Union:  The Conditionality of Sub-Regionalism”
Balkans were broken
Quick!  Get them in the EU
Or maybe, not quick

Amanda Gardner
Title:  “Police Reform and Non-State Armed Groups in Post-Conflict Iraq and Bosnia: Accountability versus Effectiveness?”
Police, post-conflict
Stop hurting, start protecting
Chase away armed groups

Joshua Gross
Title:  “The Fog of Peace: Comparing U.S. and UN Approaches to Conflict Management in Nepal”

Die feudalist die!
So, so sick of retrograde
ideologies

Courtney Kemps
Title:  “More Than Just Credit: A Case Study of Vocational Training Workshops Offered by a Microfinance Institution in Peru”

Give women credit
Then teach them to make ice cream
Does this really work?

Christine Martin
Title:  “Strategic Management of Technology-Enabled Development Projects”
Tech is really cool
Increased voice for citizens
Please manage it well.

Fabian Olarte
Title:  “An Evaluation of Colombia’s Security and Economic Revitalization During the Uribe Administration. What does the future hold for Colombia?”
Uribe’s Yucca
FARC’s Arroz con Frijoles
Santo’s for dessert?

Viviana Rivas
Title:  “The Stagnant Mexican Automotive Industry: Drawing Lessons from Other Automotive Industries”

Mex Car Industry
You are screwed. Can you learn?
Probably not. Ugh.

Nina Tandon
Title:  “Defaulting Treaty Obligations: How the Lack of Clarity in U.S. Domestic Laws Contributes to Noncompliance”

We make agreements
We never intend to keep
Though other states weep

Elli Tsiligianni
Title:  “Flying Greece Sky High: Marfin Investment Group Sets Eyes on Olympic Airlines”

Onassis founded
Government mismanaged
New flag in the sky?

Bapu Vaitla
Title:  “How Good Change Happens: The Politics of Child Undernutrition in Brazil and India”

Big people, listen:
Food is for the smallest ones
Nurture your nature.

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