Political Science

Senior Conference

Also view: 2018 Schedule

Friday, March 29, 2019 | 9:00am-5:00pm

Seniors from the Department of Political Science will present their capstone projects to a campus-wide audience. This capstone experience is meant to be a synthesis and culmination of our student's time at Cal Poly Pomona. We run 14 panels in 5 sessions.

Each panel is moderated and attended by faculty of the Department of Political Science at Cal Poly Pomona. Students are given 10 minutes to present their projects and we allow a short time for Q&A session. Senior Conference is open to the campus community. Light food and refreshments will be provided.

9:00-10:20am: Session #1

Politics of the Underserved
Panel #1: Bronco Student Center - Ursa Major A
Faculty Moderators: Neil Chaturvedi & Robert Nyenhuis

I chose to do my senior thesis on prison reform. Specifically on recidivism rates in the United States. My approach to this is looking at the recidivism rates in each state in this country, and see what method and approach works best in reducing recidivism. I am hoping to see that the recidivism rates have gone down as people on both sides of the political spectrum are coming together on this bipartisan issue that is prison reform.

Proposition 13 enacted in 1978 has been central to public school funding and California’s students of color. Since the 1980s, there have been massive reductions for funding in public education that has disproportionately affected communities of color. Students of color especially the students who live in poverty are further away from the starting line when they attend school than their counterparts. With low education funding, we continue to see students of color struggle academically and cognitively. While California witnessed its students defeat, we have seen new pieces of legislation that attempt to increase per-pupil spending while striving for equality in the classroom. Since 2010, California has enacted a new spending formula that has strived to return school funding to levels before the Great Recession. I hope to see a steady increase in educational outcomes from students of color.

There are an alarming number of citizens around the United States detained in local county jails due to their inability to pay excessive bail, specifically for low-level offenses. These citizens whom are being held on bail have only been accused of a crime but not yet convicted. They are held in county jails because they are not able to pay their bail determined by the judge, often based on a current bail schedule and not because the person is held for being a threat to public safety. In most cases, a person can be detained until their case is resolved through a plea deal, or until their pre-trial is over. Their detainment can range from a few days to a few years. This paper reviews recent attempts on prison bail reform by California legislators to create new laws against excessive bail which is related to the money bail system and how this system adversely impacts middle-class Americans, especially Californians. The text also examines the United States Constitution 8th Amendment, which demands “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”(Pittaro 2018). After reviewing several themes associated to the cost of imprisonment, Imprisonment and poverty, and alternative developments, this paper finds that pre-incarceration bail on low-level offense detainees has a long term effect of their wealth accumulation compared to those who have never been incarcerated in their lives.

This thesis aims to answer the question "How has immigration Policy affected minority political participation.Throughout the years, there have been countless research done on political participation, however there is still more research that needs to asses’ other factors. This research looks at political participation in minority groups, but more importantly looks into how immigration policy has been a key factor in changing the amount of participation through quantitative research methods.

The primary justification for the elimination of cash bail is to promote equity, or at the very least reduce inequality, in the criminal justice system. However, the alternative systems suggested to replace cash bail raise some valid concerns surrounding the use of algorithms used to determine a person’s pre-trial release. My paper attempts to explore this by analyzing the use of said release criterion in Washington D.C. and comparing that particular policy with proposed systems in New York and California. In short, do algorithms used to determine whether or not someone should be released pre-trial reduce inequality in the criminal justice system? I first utilized the concept of biopower to come to the conclusion that the algorithmic criterion used is to better regulate a population rather than promote equity. Furthermore, I will use quantitative data comparing the number of people arrested before the elimination of cash bail to the number of people arrested after cash bail was replaced to determine whether or not the face value goal of promoting equity was met. My preliminary hypothesis is that the economic and racial makeup of those arrested, and the percentage of people who plead guilty versus the percentage of people whom the District dropped charges against before and after the elimination of cash bail will stay the same.

Activism and Rights in the United States
Panel #2: Bronco Student Center - Ursa Major B
Faculty Moderators: Brady Collins & Mario Guerrero

California has the most expensive housing in the United States. With this in mind the paper analyzes what the two largest counties in California, Los Angeles County and San Bernardino County have done to increase the supply of affordable housing. Many California residents are no longer able to find affordable housing and some have left the state to find housing elsewhere. Residents have had to rely on Section 8 Housing, inclusionary housing, other housing programs, or financial assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Thus case studies were utilized to investigate if any cities in San Bernardino or Los Angeles County have used inclusionary housing or any housing programs to create affordable housing units. This paper concludes that cities such as Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Chino Hills, and San Bernardino have created their own affordable housing programs and have relied on financial assistance from the state and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The protections and rights of owning guns in countries around the world pale in comparison to the United States. The right to own guns has, unfortunately, created major issues concerning gun shootings that are becoming more and more common for Americans. The actions of individuals committing mass slaughter through the use of guns have raised the issue of gun control to the public. Gun control activists play a major role in calling Americans to protest and participate in the implementation of gun control. This thesis aims at addressing the impact activists have on their presence in creating social movements for gun control. This research will use the Parkland, Sandy Hook, and the Las Vegas mass gun shooting as case studies regarding the influence activists have in calling for Americans to protest for gun control. These three cases studies are important to analysis in this research due to each creating a different level of social activism than the other. This paper would look at the methods and tactic used by gun control activists in raising the issue of gun violence. This research outcome will evaluate the effectiveness activists can create in persuading Americans to support gun control.

Los Angeles County is the most densely populated county in the United States and there is little room for expansion. In addition to this, the county is also currently facing a housing shortage crisis has left the area with an even wider array of issues. A significant issue being access to green spaces and parks in the urban cities located within the county. Although there is a substantial amount of green spaces, the spaces are not equally available when the cities are compared to one another. This thesis will be examining two cities in Los Angeles County, Inglewood and Santa Monica, which will serve as case studies’ to exemplify how the green spaces are not equally available. Additionally, they will be used to make the argument that residents’ that face disproportionate access to green spaces and parks are more likely to see a decrease in social capital, which thereby affects the residents economically.

There are economic and social barriers within communities of color that affect the quality of life. Resulting from the division of income, race and class, there are lower investments in social institutions, high crime rates, polluted air, contaminated land and displacement. As a result of industrial competition, technological advancement, downsizing, and shutdowns of industries have led to abandoned industrial sites known as brownfields. These empty lots are often seen as dirty, empty, and worthless pieces of land that are taken as representative of the local community. Within the city of Commerce in South-East Los Angeles, there is a brownfield located on the northeast corner of Garfield and Gage. The research investigates the effects of having an empty lot in a working class community.

This thesis will unpack how women’s rights correlates to the fertility rate of a country, while specifically narrowing in on how the rise of women’s education has affected the decline of fertility rates worldwide. This research analyzes the difference in the fertility rates between middle income countries like Mexico, China, Guatemala, and Iraq; as well as high income countries like the United States, Japan, Germany, and France. Although there are outlier high income countries with high fertility rates like Saudi Arabia; comparing these countries finds that the more a country gives its citizens equal protection in terms of gender, the more likely the fertility rate will decrease.

The Justice System and Fairness
Panel #3: Bronco Student Center - Ursa Major C
Faculty Moderators: Jill Hargis & David Speak

Since the 1990s, there has been a surge of self-representation around the world, with a larger surge since the 2009 financial crisis. However, this surge of self-represented litigants has had many negative impacts on court systems worldwide. Self-representation has led to an increase in mistakes in filing and filling out of paperwork, which has lowered the speed in which cases can be turned over, in addition inceasing the stress for clerks by forcing them to take on a role of guiding uninformed litigants through the process, blurring the difference between advice and education. Self-representation has also put increased stress on judges, who struggle to find a balance between helping self-represented litigants express their arguments to the court while keeping their opinions fair between represented and unrepresented litigants. Some options have been suggested to help mitigate these issues, primarily in the form of increased legal aid, improved workshops, and allowing lawyers to draft some documents for self-represented litigants without having to fully hire an attorney.

This present study addresses the access to justice issue, and whether self representation increases an individual’s success in a trial, or if representation by a lawyer is a more tenable option. Prominent factors that influence an individual’s likelihood of self representation, include the inability to afford lawyer expenses. However, this factor does not necessarily influence the success of a self represented litigant. Rather, the factor that appears to negatively affect the success of a self represented litigant is the circumstance in which the self represented individual is inadequately prepared for the trial, as a result of lack of access to or awareness of legal assistance programs. Furthermore, representation by a lawyer is not always the best method of securing a successful trial, as there remains the potential for judicial sympathy towards the self represented litigant over individuals represented by a lawyer. The present study proposes that it is possible for a self represented litigant to receive a fair trial, as long as this individual has access to legal assistance, such as advice, which ultimately levels the playing field of both parties.

This piece seeks to demonstrate a comprehensive evaluation of whether prosecuting attorney’s are sanctioned too much discretion. Looking specifically to highlight both judgements of the argument, various scholars are noted throughout, touching upon issues pertaining to prosecutorial discretion known to be prevalent within District Attorney’s Offices throughout the nation. Such issues would be limited resources, discretionary consequences, and the public interest at large. In addition to the literature, brief excerpts deriving from an interview conducted with a Deputy District Attorney will accentuate the perspective of the decision maker, as well as pin point the determining factors that sway discretion. Personal internship experience, evaluation of a specific case, and interview results are incorporated, as well.

Researching some of the factors that a judge takes into consideration when creating court orders for child custody and visitation. Many litigants do not know how a judge creates child custody and visitation orders and how they later change when previous order do not work out. Also learning why each factor is important to the judge's decision.

Self-representation is not just another tool for people summoned to court but rather the only option for some. Litigants choose to self-represent for various reasons, sometimes economical, lack of knowledge about the court system, or a mistrust in legal professionals for hire. After choosing to self-represent they are faced with these obstacles as well as challenges that they present to the court system. Utilizing scholarly research this paper will examine these challenges faced by litigants in the Superior Court system and analyze how it effects their success through the courts. Relying on my own experience with self-represented litigants at the Pasadena Superior Court, I will confirm these findings as well as provide insight for improving this type of litigation.

Nonprofit organizations rely heavily on volunteers to help assist those with less resources. These volunteers offer their time and do not receive monetary compensation in return. Volunteer retention has become so important, it is needed in order to keep these organizations running smoothly to continue offering their services. Volunteer retention is the attempt to lower the turnover rate amongst volunteers. It is important to lower the turnover rate because these nonprofit organizations lose money when they have to constantly train new volunteers.There are factors that have been found to contribute to volunteer retention, such as: satisfaction, inclusivity, and stipends. This paper explores if these are valid factors in increasing volunteer retention. My analysis is based on my case study, in regards to my experience as a volunteer at the Neighborhood Legal Services of Los Angeles County.

10:30am-12:00pm: Session #2

The Effects of Media on American Society
Panel #4: Bronco Student Center - Ursa Major A
Faculty Moderators: Neil Chaturvedi & David Speak

The constant saturation of information pumping through our media outlets and into our minds is bound to have an effect on our psyche. Most US citizens are limited by the information they receive through their choices in social media and traditional news media, but we could also be limited in the perceptions made available to us, by our geographic location and political party of choice. There is evidence to show that geographic location, and the cultural priorities that are preexisting in that location, decide which topics the media will focus on. Recent trends in political diversity within cities shows that US citizens have become more likely to live in communities that reflect their own political views. With this migration in mind, it has become observable that conservatives are benefiting more from media coverage than liberals are, as it has become easier to track voting patterns in areas populated densely with a single party (Entman, 2007). This could be creating an environment where the media controls more of our nation’s history than our elected officials do. This topic is important to discuss, because the plethora of biased narratives that US citizens absorb, could be the cause of many of the political problems and partisanship issues that we, as a country, face today.

The purpose of this study is to explore whether there is causal relationship between polarization and the use of social media. The study seeks to answer the research question, how does social media impact polarization in contemporary American society? This study will specifically look at the various considerations for the origin(s) of polarization. Various scholarly articles cover a wide range of ideas and contributions in the field of polarization. Social Media is also looked at from a wide range of views. The research may suggest certain themes or ideas within the study of polarization and social media. The first hypothesis posed is that there is a causal relationship between selective exposure and polarization. The second hypothesis is that party identification on social media platforms will polarize those platforms.

The role and importance of media has grown over the past years and the impact it has on society has dramatically increased. Certain social media outlets have a great effect on what people consider to be important. Some experts refer to this as the agenda setting theory. Popular media outlets have become a major source of information for many people. According to Maxwell McCombs the agenda setting theory has encompassed public opinion about political candidates and other public figures, specifically the images that the public holds of these individuals and the contributions of the media to those public images. As the number of social media user increases each year, the impact it has on society increases as well. The findings and analysis will help determine how profound the influence of media has on society and whether it affects peoples attitudes and opinions.

The news industry plays a vital role in communicating political information to citizens. The salience of an issue depends heavily on mainstream media’s decision to report; moreover, how these outlets present the topic can influence the way viewers process the information and their response. The news industry in the United States has undergone substantial changes over the past few decades with several studies highlighting the rise of partisan media coverage. Additionally, the ideological gap between democrats and republicans has gradually increased since 1994. This has resulted in the evident political polarization we face today. The purpose of this paper is to gauge the leverage news media has over public opinion while drawing attention to strategies often employed in news reporting. I intend for my quantitative research to conclude that the mainstream media is responsible, to some degree, for the increasing divergence of political attitudes in America. I will also examine the structure of the news industry to explain a propensity for partisan interpretation of issues and raise concerns regarding the lack of objective reporting. If mainstream news media is a pervasive force in altering public opinion, then this paper will detail how.

There have been numerous mass shootings in the United States. The purpose of this paper is to attempt to determine who/what is to blame for these publicized tragedies. Using a data set compiled by the Mother Jones publication, over 100 publicized mass shootings from 1982 to the present will be analyzed to determine what, if any, factors/actors can be assigned partial blame for the occurrence of these tragedies. In turn, those findings will then be used as a basis to determine what kind of policy action should be taken to prevent these tragedies from occurring in the future. I expect to find that more often than not the perpetrators of these mass shootings had some sort of evidence of a mental health issue and that the weapons used by them in the commission of the shooting were more often obtained legally than illegally. As a result, there will be discussion on how to implement more effective mental health care in the United States as well as possible changes to gun legislation and the obstacles that stand in the way of achieving those goals. Mass shootings are one of the more prevalent issues in the United States almost to the point that they have become normalized. This paper intends to show that the problem needs to be addressed and there are specific changes that need to be made in order to do so effectively.

Race, Rights, and Participation
Panel #5: Bronco Student Center - Ursa Major B
Faculty Moderators: Mario Guerrero & Robert Nyenhuis

Elections are an important component of American government. A significant component of the electoral process is voting. This is an area where people have an opportunity to contribute to the system that governs them. Scholars continue to investigate the voting patterns of groups of people and a variety of factors can impact voter turnout. Voting is a vital component of politics, thus it is important to determine if factors such as age and race affect voting outcomes. The research will determine that age and race did have an impact on the 2016 election.

Free speech has been a big issue in America for numerous decades. In more recent years the two parties seem to have become more polarized on this issue than in decades past. This thesis explores how partisan affiliation shapes views on free speech. Preliminary research indicated connections both personality and political ideology have with partisan affiliation. Though personality was a stronger predictor in party affiliation than political ideology the research suggested, as would conventional wisdom, that liberalism as of the last decade or so is more closely affiliated with people who choose to identify as Democrats whereas conservatism is more closely affiliated with people who choose to identify as Republicans. That said, Conservatives were indicated to be just as intolerant as liberals and less protective, but more consistent in their tolerance judgments than liberals according to 2009 and 2012 studies. Other variables are accounted for regarding influencing political tolerance, but this research seeks to demonstrate that partisan affiliation is the strongest predictor of views on free speech. This study uses various target groups to assess political tolerance and discusses political tolerance regarding the flag as well. An online survey was conducted at Cal Poly Pomona that assessed party ID, political tolerance, and various types of demographic information. Free speech tolerance judgments were indicated to be greater for Republicans than Democrats overall. However, regarding least-liked groups the tolerance levels were lower for each party affiliation. The flag was an outlier as well with tolerance levels, for the most part, being higher for Democrats than Republicans given the strong ties Republicans are perceived to have with the flag which has been shown to, in turn, have strong connections with nationalism as well. This thesis indicates that liberals have become more intolerant than conservatives since 2009 and 2012.

The main concentration of authority in governmental systems since the civilization of man has been seized by male dominance. For centuries, it has been socially accepted for men to hold absolute authority in every governmental system established. However, there has been an increase in female participation in various governments, including nine cases in Latin America. This paper examines several factors that could explain the participation of women in Latin American governments. The factors include gender quotas, gender inequalities, and ideologies. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the most effective determinant of female representation by comparing the results that each component had on the countries examined.

The right to vote is an important principle of American democracy. The United States continues to trail behind highly developed, democratic states regarding voter-turnout. Scholars have analyzed what factors result in voter-turnout and if there is a distinct difference between voters and non-voters. Previous findings suggest that there is a clear disparity amongst demographic groups in relation to voter-turnout and political participation. This thesis aims to argue the role that income status, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and age have on an individual is related to their voting behavior. In the general election, 60% percent of the voting-age population voted (McDonald, 2016). This thesis uses findings from a quantitative research design through survey research to showcase the relationship between voting turnout and social-economic factors. Primarily, to access whether income, race or ethnicity, and age affects voter turnout rates. The analysis finds that the majority of voters are in the minority. The likely voter has a higher-income, is white, and older, and their turnout is higher in both the midterm elections and general elections.

Political participation is an aspect of American culture that is strongly valued and allows the people the ability to maintain a democratic society. The 2016 presidential election was tumultuous and saw media coverage unlike any other. Every news channel was covering candidate Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s imperfect history of notorious controversy. We saw a country divide in more ways than one, but race and age were some of the biggest divisions. This essay will analyze how race and age individually influenced the outcome of the most recent election, and more importantly, answer why and how it impacted the results. Ultimately, I argue that race and age affected political participation in the 2016 presidential election in many ways. I used data analysis to further research this question, utilizing the 2016 American National Election Studies (ANES) data set that uses a nationally representative sample. This thesis intends to contribute to the ongoing scholarship by arguing that there was a distinct relationship between these two factors and political participation in 2016. Moreover, this research also serves to highlight the importance of political participation and in understanding that the efforts of the American public can greatly influence the outcome of presidential elections.

Constituencies, Service, and Activism
Panel #6: Bronco Student Center - Ursa Major C
Faculty Moderators: Brady Collins, Jill Hargis & Marc Scarcelli

Bottom-up Activism is not a new phenomenon. Nevertheless, its origins are still relevant because there is not a clear reason why students practice activism. It is also unclear whether students will continue to be politically engaged outside of campus and after graduating. Activism is defined as an action taken by an individual, or a group, to challenge or make a change. Students seem to have ample motivations to desire change; however, what of those who do not have intrinsic motivation? What influences those who have no apparent motivation to become activists? The topic of this scholarship is the causes of student activism. Previous scholarship provides a variety of motivations. Activism seems to be caused by dissent towards a government, a society, a socioeconomic system, or an ideology. Alternatively, activism can also be caused by exposure from involvement with campus organizations and non-profits, nontraditional community services, encouragement from schools and family, and the media. This study analyzes the intrinsic and extrinsic causes of activism. The analysis also attempts to answer whether these motivations succeed in causing activism on campus, outside, and after graduating. The analysis comes from my experience campus organizing and interning with the Feminist Majority Foundation. It concludes that contemporary activism is similar to past activism, where there is a consolidated identity or grievance bringing people together. However, students today are more extrinsically motivated to be activists, likely due to individualism and stigma towards activism.

This study first evaluates affordable housing policies that have successfully helped increase the development of affordable housing. These policies include (1) inclusionary zoning, (2) density bonuses, (3) voucher programs, and (4) production policies (e.g. impact fees and community benefits agreements). As affordable housing increases, it is crucial to note where the development is occurring and what opportunities are available for families. Thus, this study determines which housing policies effectively integrate low-income families into low-stress neighborhoods. There are two case studies from Los Angeles and San Francisco, providing examples of housing policies that each jurisdiction has implemented to increase affordable housing, community outreach, and public transit relations. Lastly, this study provides policy recommendations to increase the development of affordable housing in low-stress neighborhoods.

This essay will be a study of the phenomenon called Fenno's Paradox. The idea behind this paradox is that people generally disapprove of Congress but approve of their congressmember. During my internship at my own congresswoman's district office, I got to experience this bias firsthand and gained a better understanding for the reasons behind it.

The internet has enabled us to communicate with many people around the world through social media. Social media applications such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have revolutionized the way that we communicate online, thus creating a tool unlike any another. Social media in the politcal field is used as a strategical tool to create direct contact with voters, helping candidates spread their campaign messages smoother as well as stronger. However, how far can campaign social media propaganda go in influencing voters behavior?.

My project focused on the connection between constituency services provided by legislators and how it may increase their likelihood of being reelected by their constituents. I focused my research on all different levels of government, both in the United States and a couple examples outside of the United States. My aim was to take their research and connect it to my district within the State Legislature given this is where my internship was.

Democracy functions through the participation of its citizens and citizens are able to express their input of their government through civic engagement. The abled voter generation now consists of a very large portion of students. In the past, students and young adult had very low turnout rates. This paper exists to complete research on how to increase civic engagement and participation from this group of people to make sure their voice is heard and represented in our democratic government.

12:10-1:40pm: Session #3

Political Participation and Engagement in America
Panel #7: Bronco Student Center - Ursa Major A
Faculty Moderators: Neil Chaturvedi & Jill Hargis

The fundamental argument in favor of compulsory voting lies in the idea that voting should be viewed as a civic duty akin to paying taxes, serving on juries or in the military—in the event of a draft—and participating in compulsory education (Australian Electoral Commission, 2006). There is little dispute among academics that compulsory voting corresponds to increased voter turnout, as it usually leads to a 10 to 15 percent increase in turnout in national elections, and even greater increases in local and regional elections (Loewen, Milner, & Hicks, 2008). In an era where voter turnout has been in decline for a few decades, this might seem like a welcomed change (Gray & Caul, 2000). But what of the second-order effects that legally mandated voting might bring? Do compulsory voting laws lead to an overall increase in political engagement among eligible voters? The jury on this is still out, yet many insightful studies and analyses have examined this very issue. It is the aim of this review to catalog the relevant literature that might help in providing a clearer understanding of what compulsory voting looks like, the arguments for and against it, and how it might affect political engagement beyond the ballot box, most specifically, in the United States of America.

For my Senior Thesis, I am interested in finding out the reasons why people in the United States still do not vote. Voting is a privilege that has been given to all of the citizens, yet some of them still do not take advantage of having their voices be heard. Voting is one of the most crucial ways in which citizen’s voices get transferred into policies that will then benefit their community. If people do not vote it makes it difficult for their representatives to be able to determine what people need. There are many factors that are obvious to people on why people do not vote, which include; race, laziness, or a lack of knowledge. Are these reasons the ultimate reasons on why people do not vote, or does the reason go much further than that? Voting has always been an issue in the United States because turnouts in elections have always been much less than what they are expected to be in each election. In order to determine my hypothesis of rather someone’s education level and age is an impact on voter turnout. In order to be able to answer my hypothesis I will be conducting a qualitative research. I will be using SPSS, to be able to determine if my hypothesis is correct, or incorrect. I expect for both of these hypothesis to be correct. Citizens of the United States do not vote for many reasons, and age and education are one of the most impacting.

In recent years a belief in climate change in the United States has become a polarized issue. The media leads people to believe that Republicans are pro-economy while Democrats are pro-environment. Regardless of whether this is true or not, it is important to understand the factors that shape not only public opinion in general, but also public opinion on climate change specifically. With an idea of how public opinion is shaped on climate change, institutions can educate the masses on issues more effectively.

Since its creation by the Judiciary Act of 1789, the Supreme Court of the United States has been faced with the challenge of enforcing its decisions. In order to uphold its rulings, with no provided means of enforcement, the Court has relied on the perception of being an unbiased institution that has been separated from politics. This perception of legitimacy only functions properly if the Court is able to maintain its nonpolitical image and convince the public that its decisions are not in service to anything other than the Constitution. Scholars argue that the partisan nature of American politics is becoming increasingly polarized. Being that the Senate conducts the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominees, this increase in polarization has a direct means to influence who is appointed to the Court. Official transcripts from the Senate Judiciary Committee prove that the questions being posed to nominees now trend in the direction of politics instead of judicial qualification. The highly publicized hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 brought the partisan nature of the confirmation process to the mainstream public’s attention. The perception that the process to become a Justice of the Supreme Court has become a political venture is detrimental to the image of the Court itself. A loss of the public's trust in the Supreme Court’s ability to separate itself from politics leads to a loss of trust in the rulings that the Court produces.

The central aim of this paper is to analyze whether high incumbency rates are a direct result of gerrymandering. If so, why does it result in such high incumbency rates? The factors involved in gerrymandering include those directly related to it such as fundraising and redistricting. Examining the correlations among these factors would help in ascertaining whether federal courts or independent redistricting commissions can remedy these problems. The background of this paper thus examines fundraising and redistricting as it relates to gerrymandering. The paper also examines potential remedies for the effects of gerrymandering. Lastly the background ends with a general review of gerrymandering in America and highlights solutions that can be used to solve this problem. The hypothesis thus aims to discover the actual effects of gerrymandering in districts across America and whether there are other potential avenues to correct it.

Civil Rights and New Frontiers
Panel #8: Bronco Student Center - Ursa Major B
Faculty Moderators: Mario Guerrero & David Speak

Women’s issues have played a crucial role in the progression of society. The Supreme Court has affected this progression by ruling on reproductive cases, even with no women representation on the bench. The Court ruled on women’s issues long before women ever served on the Supreme Court. This paper will study the role that gender plays on the decision-making process of Supreme Court Justices by analyzing twenty-seven reproductive cases that the Court has looked at since their formation. Each case will be examined by looking at majority and dissenting opinions and comparing those to the justice’s gender. This paper will also compare the decisions the justice’s made prior to women serving on the bench, and if decisions changed once women were appointed. Through these case studies, this thesis will determine if gender bias affects the decision-making of the Court on reproductive rights.

The United States is often referred to as a melting pot of cultures. as Americans, we can recognize the many different ideologies and political affiliations that exist within, which often result in the creation of interest groups. Interest groups were originally designed to give a voice to group of individuals that hold similar ideologies. Over time The relationship between government and interest groups has constantly evolved, and in the past decades, the two only seem to be getting more convoluted. This interdependent relationship is in large part due to economics, activism, and education. Through a study of the influence of interest groups in American politics I will applying my findings to my own experience as an intern for The U.S. Congress and The California State Assembly.

With social media becoming a major part of people’s lives over the past decade, it has changed the way the average American receives information about events happening around the globe. This is especially true for the realm of politics in its entirety. Whether it be another scandal or a new politician announcing candidacy, the average American will have access to this information by simply logging on to a site like Facebook or Twitter. With these newer and different ways to receive political information, it is important to research how this is playing a role in shaping political attitudes and possibly changing the way an average person perceives ideas and information about the American political system. This paper aims to identify whether or not social media has made young adults more apathetic toward American politics. By conducting interviews with various students of different majors of study attending Cal Poly Pomona, this thesis will take an analytical approach of how social media is affecting young adults and their perception of American politics.

In recent years social media has become a social phenomenon that has not only changed societal dynamics but has also obtained influence in American politics. Today, people use various forms of social media platforms and are turning away from traditional media to get their news and information from these outlets. Not only have social media platforms become a key venue for news and information, but they have also become a place for users to engage in political discussion, debate, and has allowed people to engage in civic-related activities, such as political movements and rallies. This thesis goes to show to what extent social media has affected the political engagement of American citizens. This thesis proves that social media has influenced voting behavior amongst differing demographics.

The United States Senate has been a predominantly male majority, however over the years there has been a gradual shift of women occupying a greater number of seats, in which they now hold 23%. Gender and behavior in the legislature are a growing area of study in American Politics. The research on gender and behavior in the Senate examines the effects that gender has on interactions, how gender effects legislation and what it does in terms of representation. This thesis examines how gender effects behavior in the Senate and what these dynamics mean in relation to how members of the Senate respond to legislation, especially as the Senate is increasingly including a greater number of seats held by women. In attempting to prove that gender effects behavior in the senate, this thesis uses content analysis to analyze the research question in depth. To assess behavior and whether gender has an effect, this thesis focuses on Congressional records to analyze the content of bills being sponsored and cosponsored within the 115th session of Congress.

In family law courtrooms, there is an increasing amount of litigants who are representing themselves. Litigants are expected to prepare their own paperwork and know the proper filing procedures, as well as how to conduct themselves in the courtroom. Due to the lack of legal knowledge and experience that an attorney has, litigants often find that their procedural justice is affected. This thesis will evaluate whether the absence of the aid of a legally competent attorney affects a self-represented litigants ability to receive procedural justice in their case. Through courtroom observations, it was determined that the type and severity of each case influences a litigants procedural justice.

Issues in Comparative Politics and International Relations
Panel #9: Bronco Student Center - Ursa Major C
Faculty Moderators: Brady Collins, Robert Nyenhuis, & Marc Scarcelli

Today, humans are continuing to explore and expand further into space - pushing the boundaries of human impact and presence beyond our own planet. Without clear and established legislation designed to address key and controversial issues, how can humans navigate the unclear path of how to proceed when legal issues occur? This paper examines what rule of law will emerge dominant in the Final Frontier as we explore and occupy space beyond Earth. This study uses qualitative research methods, specifically, a legal analysis of past and present legislation. Complemented by United Nations treaties, I placed special emphasis on the dominating private and public actors and their legal stance on activities conducted in space. Through this analysis, I was able to find that beyond our atmosphere exists a battlefield for countries and public actors seeking to become a hegemonic power in space. The wide array of legal issues confronted, coupled with a lack of jurisdiction and inability to enforce laws and international treaties, creates a pattern of legislation driven by financial and political interests. Therefore, the emerging rule of law in space is one of financial gain and the continued superiority of each country's global presence.

Political science scholars have identified three of the most prominent factors fueling the rise of the latest far-right groups as economics, societal changes, and immigration. While each of these has a clear impact on the activity and popularity of far right-groups, this study focuses on whether a nation’s history of accepting (or not accepting) immigrants, as well as its recent and current treatment of immigrants, affects the current popularity and activity of its far-right groups. By examining historic treatment of immigrants in the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, and comparing them among one another, we find a nation’s treatment of immigrants throughout history can in fact affect the current activity and popularity of its far-right groups.

This paper will analyze, the different aspects that lead to a revolution to succeed. We will explore three main components, such as International support, International opposition, and domestic support or the lack of it. These variables, have an enormous impact on whether a revolution is successful in achieving its goal. The case study that will be examined is Nicaragua’s 1979 civil revolution, and the 2018 civil uprising.

On December 18, 2010, sparked by the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, protests broke out in Tunisia. By early 2011 both Egypt and Tunisia had thrown out their deep rooted dictators. These were the first regimes toppled by peaceful protests since 1979 in Iran. The Internet has grown from its beginning connecting only a few million to now a few billion. With that growth social media was adopted not only into the lives of citizens but into nongovernmental organizations, governments, activist, corporations, ect. Previous revolutions needed no so called “Twitter Revolution” to be successful. While contemporary scholars agree social media has an effect, they dispute whether or not it is positively correlated or negatively towards revolt. The United States foreign policy towards promoting and expanding the widespread usage of the internet under the Obama administration fell somewhat flat on its face. They ended up admitting pushing for more and more internet access is not necessarily the key to more freedom and it can in fact be a repressive factor in authoritarian regimes. What they realized was that the internet in more developed countries not only can be filtered but it can also be used to better control a populace. The question this directly leads to is why do governments control social media liberties. This encompasses the policy choice, repression level, and nuanced ways states not only control them but also influence or appeal to social media for better control.

This study explores the issue of groundwater depletion to offer specific policy prescriptions to mitigate its negative consequences. With the continued development of technology, government subsidies, and crops requiring a larger amount of irrigation, groundwater depletion is becoming a global issue as countries in Southern Asia depend on groundwater to fuel their agricultural driven economies. Previous research examines the issue of increasing the efficiency of groundwater allocation, without consideration given to socio-economic circumstances of the areas affected. This paper examines the policy options aimed at addressing the issue of groundwater depletion in Southern Asia, specifically India and Pakistan. The policies examined include the establishment of formal water markets, creation of a government agency or institution to manage both groundwater and surface water resources, and the prohibition of pumping, extracting, or use of groundwater for any purpose. Using data from previous research, this paper shows the policy best suited for each region examined.

Acts of terrorism in the Middle East are common. Non-state actors have been committing acts of terrorism for centuries. International relations in the Middle East rely upon power dynamics between multiple states that vie for their ideologies, power, and politics to gain authority. Due to Israel’s relative infancy as a nation-state in this region, its legitimacy in the eyes of multiple regional powers is still questioned. Palestine, Iran, and Syria have been in military and political opposition towards the state of Israel with the involvement of the United States. While studies have examined different theories of terrorism, limited studies have examined the recent causes. This study explored the causation relationship between poverty and violent acts of terrorism. Methods: With quantitative data analysis of the poverty rate in Middle Eastern countries, collected from Freedom house. Analyzed with the number of attacks that resulted in fatality or injury from the terrorist group Hamas from the year 2007 to 2017. The analysis will account for the number of casualties, the region and number of attacks, collected from the Global Terrorism Database. Results: My early findings suggest that the level of poverty and economic status contribute to increased levels of terrorism.

1:50-3:20pm: Session #4

Security, Immigration, and Foreign Policy
Panel #10: Bronco Student Center - Ursa Major A
Faculty Moderators: Neil Chaturvedi & Jill Hargis

What is the best way to combat human trafficking in the United States? While most of us think slavery is non- existent in the United States, that is not true, it is now called human trafficking While the United States appears to be combating human trafficking, the literature around the issue suggests the policies to address human trafficking in the United States desperately needs improving. According to Miriam Potocky, The United States government does not even have a precise number of trafficking victims in the United States, leading to a failure in preventing anything happening (Potocky 2). Also, according to David A. Feingold, Popular United States policies like sanctions, border tightening, and cracking down on organized crime are not good policy options while unpopular ones like legalizing prostitution might have an effect (Feingold 27, 28, 30). So, while the options available may be wide ranging, one possible answer to this complex issue could be to legalize prostitution. To address these needs, the methodology of the research will address case studies of several different countries and how they succeed or fall short of effectively combating human trafficking. The I will analyze three legitimate democracies, (The United States, Germany, and Japan) and their laws regarding sex work, and whether or not there are any substantial differences in prevention between the 3 nations. With this in mind, let’s address the core issues regarding the aspects of human trafficking.

For decades prior to the 1979 Iranian Hostage Crisis, Iran played an important role in American containment policy and was a key strategic ally for the United States in the Middle East. However, since the Hostage Crisis, the two regimes have almost entirely mitigated diplomatic negotiation with few exceptions such as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that was negotiated under the administration of President Barack Obama with the UN Security Council’s permanent 5 members + 1 (China, Russia, France, UK, US + Germany). The relationship between Iran and the US has sparked great discussion amongst political scientists as they implore the Western media’s influence in highlighting cultural differences and key foreign policy decisions to address the potential causes for the heightening enmity. Drawing upon the series of foreign policy decisions following the Hostage Crisis which polarized the regimes, there is a precedent for cooperation and friendliness between the two states that can and will likely be brought to light as a key strategic move for America’s foreign policy agenda in the Middle East. To understand the relationship between the differing states we must implore the realist, liberalist, and constructivist methods of analysis. Each of these methods of analysis provide a different layer that maintains cooperation between the regimes through acts such as JCPOA are largely beneficial and not adverse to US national security or geo-strategical interests.

For the second part of my thesis I will be providing specific evidence to prove my hypothesis. My goal will be to get more information that supports the idea that Proposition 187 had a big impact in the Latino community, and how the propositions lead to their increase participation in politics. The study will measure the percentage rate of active latino participants from the 1990s when Proposition 187 was introduced, compared to today political participation. The goal is to find a significant increase. My main strategy will be looking into the years following this event on the California legislature and attempt to estimate any demographic shifts following since then. Throughout my research paper it can be noted how after the 90’s the Republican party lost support. According to the LA times “in the 1990 when voters were turned off by the Republican Party’s hard-line stance on immigration”. However, I want to look more into the legislators who decided to run for office after Proposition 187. The goal is to target a specific area of government and find out how much of an increase in Latino participation was seen after Proposition 187 was passed.

This paper investigates the factors that shaped the conditions that shaped the initiation and prolonged U.S. presence in Iraq following 2003 by looking at public opinion on the President’s speeches. The case study presented identifies then President George W. Bush’s rhetorical statements which indicated a national necessity to engage in war with Iraq as the primary causal factor in shaping popular support for the military invasion and prolonged presence in Iraq following 2003. In addition, the study analyzes the national panic sparked by the September 11th terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City and “banal nationalism” as secondary factors that President Bush used as conduits to shape his narrative for war and rally popular support more effectively. Yet, most centrally this case study makes an argument for this correlation by analyzing percentage increases in rhetoric within significant speeches made by President Bush between 2001-2006 following major events in the years that led into and during the early years of the Iraq war; but also by analyzing the fluctuations in public opinion in regards to those polls by investigating the public response to the speeches. The purpose of the study is to indicate that the President’s rhetoric played an instrumental role in gathering support for the military invasion and prolonged presence in Iraq following the September 11th, 2001 attack, putting into question notions that Americans had already harbored a general sense of distrust against Muslims and/or the nation of Iraq or that the September 11th attack alone rallied the popular support for the military invasion.

In recent decades lies a subjective question of how the American public has grown a strong negative perception of federal agencies, specifically the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). To understand this anomaly, the DHS must be analyzed from a broad perspective. Factors such as, public opinions on politics, local law enforcement interactions, and how the public views federal agencies efficiencies form the start of understanding this issue. Formation of political opinions is the foundation of every Americans political trends and interactions within political activities. Interactions between the public and law enforcement condition the American public on what to expect when dealing with government bodies. In major national events federal agencies are called into action, depending on how they delegate and execute federal agendas determines their favorability. Due to lack of readily available information regarding this dilemma, in-depth research throughout various forms of documentation and research must be sought. After pinpointing the major causalities, a direct survey can be implemented to reflect the real findings on the matter to allow validation for the importance of comprehending this concern. This research will help in uncovering this unprecedented dilemma that federal agencies are facing today. This may aid in turning agencies agendas around and even the American publics opinions.

Education and Political Participation
Panel #11: Bronco Student Center - Ursa Major B
Faculty Moderators: Mario Guerrero & David Speak

Lack of female representation in governmental leadership, although improving, continues to be disproportional. Due to the outdated perspective that politics is a male-centered field, women are subconsciously barred from being participants in governmental affairs. Wanting to change this for future generations, young women enter the field of Political Science, yet still find themselves secluded. Male dominance can still be seen through the gender make-up of the major, participation, course materials, and courses offered. This thesis will explore whether the Political Science Department at Cal Poly Pomona encourages equal opportunities for both male and female students.

The uneven funding of schools across the Los Angeles Unified School District has been causing students to receive an education of different quality. The amount of funding a school receives comes partially from property taxes, so schools with students who live in predominantly low income areas with low property values will not be receiving the same amount of funding as schools in higher income areas. This has negative repercussions on not only students, but the communities they come from, as those schools in low income areas will not have the same resources as those in high income areas. There are also other outside factors that may impact a student’s high school experience, such as responsibilities in the home, motivation to succeed, and different financial burdens. This research shows the variety of high school experiences students are having, specifically in the Latino community of the San Fernando Valley. Students who go to certain schools in the valley are receiving a higher quality education than other students in the valley, while still being a part of the same school district. Using both a student survey and interviews with teachers from the San Fernando Valley, this data will show factors that may impact a student’s high school experience, both on a personal level and at the school level.

Political knowledge is vital in today’s society. It is important for those who are going to vote, especially future voters, to have a basic understanding of what is going on in the realm of politics. This thesis focuses on the socioeconomic factors that affect political knowledge among high school seniors. High school seniors throughout the San Gabriel Valley were given a survey that measured their political knowledge, along with basic knowledge questions, participants also answered socio-economic questions. These questions were vital in showcasing a direct correlation between political knowledge and specific factors such as: race, income level, and education level. This research hopes to shed further light into understanding why political knowledge is so low among many young Americans.

Low political participation is an ongoing issue in the United States. There has been no one definitive cause identified for this matter. This paper argues that what is being taught now is not enough and if public schools were to start teaching students about American government sooner and continue to reinforce it throughout their K-12 education, instead of just high school seniors, we would have more involved citizens. This paper examines civic engagement amongst all different grade levels in high school to estimates the respective levels of political knowledge and political participation. Using a survey, this paper argues that there is a distinct difference in engagement amongst different grade levels in high school. Additionally, this paper argues that distinct levels of knowledge lead to different levels of participation amongst high school students. Instilling an importance in political involvement could lead to more participation and better representation in politics.

This paper explores the effects of celebrity endorsements on elections. In many elections, popular figures outside of poltiics sometimes will endorse a candidate, but this paper strives to understand the effect of such endorsements. The paper is an exploration of three case studies where celebrities have decided to enter the political ring and this paper tries to assess its effect on political behavior.

The Military Industrial Complex & Policy in America
Panel #12: Bronco Student Center - Ursa Major C
Faculty Moderators: Brady Collins, Robert Nyenhuis, & Marc Scarcelli

This paper examines the different approaches to solve climate change that were implemented by different countries, and what the United States should implement into their own system. Scholars have different perspectives and recommendations on what should be done. For example, implementing a form of carbon tax, or just investing more money into research and development of renewable energy were the most common recommendations. Scholars have brought up the perspective that perhaps government alone is not enough to transition to clean energy. There needs to be government and private sector cooperation. My result is a pro and con evaluation of the different approaches to see if what has been done can be implemented to the United States. This paper concludes with a policy recommendation that I think the United States should take to transition to clean energy.

The emergence of artificial intelligence is set to upend several aspects of our economy, from transportation to health-care to manufacturing, and leave many workers displaced. As this technology matures the impacts are very likely to be felt in our lives, work, politics, and security. This research focuses on the aspect of work and analyzes historical examples of economic disruptions, like the industrial revolution, and express how this disruptive technology will differ or be similar. Several policy options to deal with these challenges have been rolled-out and attempted if only for a period of time, like universal basic income, flexible security, or volunteerism incentives, among others. This research analyzes those options and discusses which policy options are the most beneficial based on the data at hand. If society is to embrace the myriad of solutions that these technologies offer, we will need to be prepared for the economic and political troubles that will be presented.

The American military-industrial complex is a behemoth that has spread its influence around the globe inspiring and promoting many similar complexes. Government officials and scholars try to address the standard issues that often plague the military-industrial complex like its interconnectedness and nepotism. Although these issues are to great concern, my research does not focus on them. My research separates itself from traditional perceptions on the complex by looking at an unconventional aspect of the military industrial complex. My research actively proposes ways to meet broader societal benefits by augmenting our complex to be more than solely defense. Other areas that develop from improving our complex would be the aggrandizement of healthcare and education for American citizens. The premise of the research addresses the fact that the American military-industrial complex is so integrated within our society, that it cannot be undone without being detrimental to our economy and prowess as a hegemon. The research highlights that we must accept our complex, and through learning and appropriating from other complexes we can optimize our own to provide broader social benefits for the American public. This research examines this strategy by looking into foreign military complexes, including China, France, and Israel. To evolve is a natural phenomenon and the same holds true for our factitious complex. It is inevitable to update the system rather than the weaponry.

The purpose of this research will be to determine the statistical efficiency of voter mobilization techniques and their ability to increase voter turnout. Along with the ability to effect a voters decision to show up at the polls, the research will explore which techniques would benefit a political campaign the most based on percentage of voter gained compared to how much a campaign would potentially have to spend to attract voters.

"President Eisenhower warned in his farewell address in 1961 about the dangers of the Military Industrial Complex. The United States after World War 2 now had a permanent armaments industry which held power and influence. The armaments industry formed was big during World War 2 but after we entered the cold war a few industries like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Bae system etc. came out as major players within the Military Industrial Complex and has turned it into an iron triangle. There have been multiple cases where it is clear that the industry part of the complex is influencing the legislation side of the Iron triangle with our spending for the military more than that of the other top 3 countries combined. There have been multiple attempts and policies to try and break the iron triangle but it is still going strong. The point of my policies is not to break the iron triangle in one fell swoop but instead to help lay a foundation so that other policies can build off of mine which will eventually break the iron triangle".

3:30-5:00pm: Session #5

Comparative Politics around the World
Panel #13: Bronco Student Center - Ursa Major A
Faculty Moderators: Mario Guerrero, Robert Nyenhuis & David Speak

Mexico has been fighting the War on Drugs for decades, with little success. It seems like every year more and more homicides are accruing due to illicit activity. Mexico’s government has tried to establish different plans to control illicit crime and all the violence it brings to their nation. Not only does this illicit activity affect Mexico but in many ways also the United States. With hundreds of ports of entry connecting Mexico and the United States, the US places heavy pressure on Mexico for a tighter control on the War on Drugs. Some parts of the Mexican government have become dysfunctional feeding to the corruption, violence and skepticism of its citizens.

The purpose of this paper is to look at some of the key factors that lead to causing government corruption, most especially in Nigeria. The paper gives an overview of Nigeria’s experience on corruption and how it has hindered the development of a country with so much potentials. Data were drawn mostly from Amnesty International, scholarly articles, and personal knowledge of Nigeria. The result of the study shows that government corruption can be caused as a result of fewer checks and balances, lack of anti corruption agencies, and low press freedom. Whereas some of its repercussions include fewer foreign investments, thus weakening the economy, leading to unemployment, poor infrastructures in healthcare, education, agriculture etc. The recommended solution to Nigeria’s corruption problem is to establish more anti corruption agencies that will have full autonomy from the legislature and executive, as well as initiating harsher punishments for public officials indulged in the misuse of public office/funds.

Since the ending of the Second World War, the Middle East has been subjected to a constant cycle of instability within government entities whom reside within the region. With an emphasis on the Middle Eastern country’s capability to maintain a level of state capacity adequate enough to ensure sovereignty and governance, it is imperative to understand the components which influence the adversity governmental bodies within the region experience both directly and indirectly as well as abroad and domestically. Looking back at history since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire when Middle Eastern countries had divided the once unified international political power, issues regarding territory and natural resources has invited attention from not only Tribal groups with a sense of entitlement, but also the attention received from international superpowers. This paper primarily looks at the impact from U.S. influence as well as the attention that surfaced revolving the Arab Spring across North African countries, focusing on prior U.S. bankroll of Middle Eastern tribes responsible for taking credit for extreme acts of terror around the globe. The analysis of this paper is based on three factors which affect a state’s capacity; political freedom, the level of extremism, and the level of corruption within the respective countries. Groups who have progressively succeeded in recruitment of individuals and influence have presented an imposing concern with regards to influence on government representatives who seek to develop stability and allow for a country to attain a sense of sovereignty, utilizing methods which entail of violence and terrorism as an avenue for their political agenda. Issues in the Middle East are deeply rooted in international policy from countries with superior influence, ultimately questioning the possibility of a probable solution for developing a secure and stable Middle East.

Spain has played an important role in contributing to the success of its colonies during colonization. The Spanish colonies all experienced different types of success after they were decolonized. Many went on to have more successful paths than others. However, how much of their success should be contributed to their colonizers? In order, to see the potential effects of post-colonialism success we will be looking at two countries. This paper will include an analysis on the countries of Ecuador and Peru. These two cases are similar and will provide us with the much-needed information to compare and measure the potential effects of Spanish colonization on post-colonial success.

When it comes to helping impoverished societies, organizations focus on finding and implementing efficient agricultural practices are very important. The goal of this research paper is to analyze the shortcomings of the Green Revolution of the late 1960's, specifically why it did not produce a significant benefit in Africa, and find out if the types of food that were grown could be substituted for insect products.

Post 9/11, The United States foreign policy in the Middle East focused primarily on the war on terrorism, and aimed to stop religious extremism, and violence. A regularly debated question is whether US foreign policy should shift from a diplomatic approach to military intervention, with both being argued for and against. This review will assess the many policy options used to combat religious extremism, such as democratization, restructuring, military intervention, and de-radicalization programs. The goal of this study is to use both qualitative and quantitative data to analyze case studies, and identify which policy options prove to be the most effective.

Ethnic Conflict, Terrorism, and Civil War
Panel #14: Bronco Student Center - Ursa Major B
Faculty Moderators: Jill Hargis & Marc Scarcelli

Three of the most prolific religions of the world have been abused throughout the centuries; under their names, countless innocent civilians and loyal soldiers have perished. By reviewing historical accounts, examining religious scriptures, and consulting experts in theology, I have found the true motivations and goals that instigate religious wars waged in the name of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are hardly ever pure or faithful in nature, but rather simply fueled for a desire for power or wealth. The plasticity of a populace to be pushed into war is largely dependent on their level of education and, as time has passed and levels of education have risen, religion institutions have correlational lost much of their power throughout the world, to the point where (despite popular belief) there no longer exists a single true theological Islamic, Christian, or Jewish nation.

This thesis examines why the conflict has been on the rise between Sunnis and Shias in certain parts of The Middle East, Persian Gulf, and South Asia while remaining more neutral in others. Past research has highlighted the differences in doctrines, political power, external influences, and the importance placed on identity. This thesis will specifically explain the role that regional superpowers play, specifically Iran and Saudi Arabia, in this conflict while also looking at local government institutions and how their strength or weakness can affect conflict. To answer this question, this thesis focuses on three specific countries, Iraq, Pakistan, and Lebanon, and looks at the strength of their local governments while also examining the how deeply the regional hegemons’ influences have permeated these countries. Iraq has been chosen because it is a Shia majority country who experienced a civil war primarily based on sectarian differences, Pakistan because it has a Shia minority and has recently experienced escalated tensions between the two sects, and Lebanon because it has a history of power balance between the two sects.

The recent prevalence of civil wars and the use of terrorism inside these types of conflicts leaves questions about how they intersect. Questions of terrorist motives have long been debated with a multitude of possible motivations presented. However, these explanations have been researched from a perspective outside of civil wars. This perspective of research toward terrorism also applies to that of civil wars. Therefore, this thesis examines the connection and attempts to link civil wars and why rebels use terrorism within these conflicts. The emphasis of terrorism in this paper is on the non-state groups that use terrorism in a civil war. This paper will use the existing theories of civil wars and terrorism, utilizing them to build a new theory to bridge the research gap.

Ethnic conflict towards Sikhs has been a recurring issue in India and Pakistan following the separation of Pakistan. Most Sikhs reside in Punjab, India but Pakistan also conflicts with Sikhs, in fact most minority ethnicities experience conflict within Pakistan. The theoretical explanations concerning ethnic conflict against Sikhs ultimately fall into four factors: events of disobedience or secessionism, economy, culture, and institutions. However, literature on the Sikh Ethnic conflict has resulted in multiple inconclusive attempts to use a single factor in determining an answer. Hence, this thesis uses a process tracing line of action to test the 4 factors in the two Sikh conflicted states; Pakistan and India. In this paper's testing of different social contexts in each of the two cases, this method allows this thesis to better analyze the variables involved and ultimately distinguish the effects of these four factors.

The Kurds are a substantial ethnic group in the Middle East and have never obtained their own sovereign state. The recent history of the group has been made up of small-scale conflicts compared to the massive wars and power struggles surrounding the ethnic group in the Middle East. Although the Kurds do not make up a large portion of Middle Eastern Scholarship, they have remained separated as minority ethnic groups and have faced varying levels of conflict in the states they inhabit, making their experience an important test of the main theories of ethnic conflict. Primordialism, instrumentalist, and constructivist ideas make up the main theories of ethnic conflict and each contains different explanations of the origin of ethnicity and ethnic conflict. This study examines the quality of explanation of each ethnic conflict theory in Kurdish regions through a controlled comparison case study. The four case studies are separated into the mainly Kurdish regions in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Primordialism as a theory is often used as a basis for policy decisions regarding foreign policy and treatment of minority groups, however, it does not provide much in describing the realities of the origin of conflict in Kurdish regions. Instrumentalist and Constructivist approaches combine to provide a more sufficient description, as they explain how an ethnic group like the Kurds have experienced both relative peace and conflict in the same region while remaining a minority ethnic group. None of the main theories provide a complete explanation but through utilizing the most applicable aspects of instrumentalist and constructivist approaches, a sufficient description of the ethnic conflict between minority Kurdish groups and the different majority ethnic groups is found.

The inefficiency of the US foreign policy of regime change has resulted in devastating outcomes in many parts of the Middle East. Especially in Syria, where the US can be credited for transforming what could have been a short-lived civil uprising into an 8-year long devastating war, resulting in 500,000 deaths and millions displaced. However, there were several major successes such as propping up a formidable regional force, the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, which was instrumental in defeating the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. However, is the US foreign policy effective in stabilizing the region and eradicating terrorism? This study analyzes several policy options. As a result, the most recommended policy would be a return to offshore balancing, which is a strategic concept that allows for intervention but with limits and restrictions to specific scenarios. It is the best strategy because it avoids expensive wars while protecting US interests and advancing its influence abroad. The withdrawal of US Troops from Syria indicates that the Trump administration is considering undertaking a similar route. The ramifications will allow more space for a political solution to take place. Since Russia is already one of the main key players negotiating the future of Syria with Turkey and Iran, both representing different sides of the war but have severed diplomatic ties with the US. Moreover, with this new strategy, the US can begin rebuilding its relationship with these countries. On the other hand, the chances of a future Kurdish state have been reduced.