Abstracts for 2012 Theses
Lily Bowles, Forging the “Field” of Social Entrepreneurship
I argue that twentieth-century French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s definition of a “field,” along with the theoretical concepts that support it, can be used as a framework to analyze social entrepreneurship, the practice of using market-based approaches to solve social problems.
In this thesis, I contend the conceptual framework Bourdieu provides can be used to: (1) prove that social entrepreneurship does not have the necessary foundational components to be considered a legitimate autonomous field, as it is claimed to be in both public discourse and academic literature, (2) reveal the missing elements precluding social entrepreneurship from becoming a legitimate autonomous field in addition to the steps necessary for it to become one, and (3) remind proponents of social entrepreneurship that, while market-based solutions can solve perceived social problems to a certain extent, the root of all social tensions stem from power dynamic struggles between agents with different control levels over resources, which means systematic and sustainable social change requires a political dimension.
The foundation of my argument is rooted in Bourdieu’s belief that most aspects of social life are categorized into different fields. He claims each field has its own configuration of relations between positions, and involves agents who engage in strategies and practices based on their shared set of values and dispositions. Most central to my argument is Bourdieu’s suggestion that a high level of specificity characterizes an autonomous field. These elements of specificity include: a clear definition and boundaries, possession of a deep-rooted history, specific agents operating under a distinctive set of beliefs, and political and power dynamic struggles between these agents. According to my interpretation of Bourdieu’s definition, social entrepreneurship is not currently a legitimate field, as it is not characterized by these highly specified components. Subsequently, I outline the necessary steps for social entrepreneurship to become a field.
In the first chapter, I point out the growing interest and participation in social entrepreneurship, while acknowledging that a definition needs to be established before this phenomenon can be considered a field. In the second chapter, I define social entrepreneurship to end disagreements about its meaning, determine the habitus of social entrepreneurs, and clarify the differences between them. In the third chapter, I contextualize social entrepreneurship in the history of development to reveal the assumptions it is founded on. In the fourth chapter, I discuss the ways in which social entrepreneurship’s neoliberal historical roots have given it a grand narrative, raise the problems with this narrative, and suggest that this narrative reincorporate politics. I conclude by urging the creation of cross-sector collaborations, as this is the only way to identify and eradicate the complex and intertwined sources of created inequality.
All of the steps I outline will take a concerted effort. Nonetheless, I argue they are steps worth taking because they will forge a revolutionary field that will serve as a constant force of creative-destruction in society; and, as Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter asserts, it is only through this process of creative destruction that old, outdated, and, often unethical, institutions and practices are replaced with ones that take society to a higher level.
Matthew Lee Cofer, The One and the Ninety-Nine: An Examination and Analysis of Rising Income Inequality in the United States
Income inequality has been rising precipitously over the last thirty years in the United States. While the economy has continued to experience large overall growth, the economic rewards of this growth have been increasingly distributed to the top of the economic ladder. Much scholarship has been dedicated to understanding these trends, yet there is a considerable lack of consensus on key aspects of the story behind rising income inequality. This lack of consensus is important because how the story of rising income inequality is ultimately understood – its development, causes, and consequences – shapes the narrative of what can and should be done about it. I argue in this thesis that defenders of the status quo of high levels of income inequality have a misunderstanding of the story behind income inequality. Moreover, I argue that by examining the best and most recent research on the subject, a clear picture of income inequality emerges.
Theories that argue that income inequality is the inevitable result of technological change or economic forces related to globalization are ultimately unconvincing. They explain differences between educated and non-educated workers. But, as has been made clear, American income inequality is about the inequality between the really rich and the rest, not the educated and the uneducated. The more convincing explanation for rising income inequality lies in the organizational and political changes in Washington that have led policymakers to support the economic interests of a narrow economic elite at the expense of average Americans. Income inequality is not inevitable, but rather it is the result of choices made by key domestic institutions. Knowing that income inequality can be changed obviously begs the question of whether it should be changed.
The answer to this question is overwhelmingly clear: current levels of income inequality are unacceptable and must be reduced. The justifications for high income inequality fall flat in the face of even the most basic facts. Additionally, mounting evidence demonstrates that higher levels of income inequality have profoundly negative impacts on our society, our economy, and our democracy. To restore the critical features of American national identity that economic inequality threatens to erode, leaders in the United States must take decisive action to reverse the course of the thirty year rise of income inequality back towards a more equitable and fair track.
Sarajaneé Davis, Black Power, Student Activism, and the Development of Black Studies
This thesis argues that the formal development of Black Studies is a direct result of Black student activism in the 1960s and early 1970s. Specific attention is given to the institutionalization of Black Studies at San Francisco State University, Harvard University, Columbia University, Howard University, and the University of Virginia. At these five institutions, student activists not only defined the political purpose of Black Studies, but they also engaged in scholarly debates that would shape the development of the field in decades to come.
Since student activism was central in the development of the discipline, my research explores how corresponding counterculture movements influenced students and the trajectory of Black Studies. Stepping back, one can see that the long tradition of Black student protest begins with the efforts of students at historically Black colleges and universities in the 1920s as students fought to secure greater control over their institutions. In the 1960s the youth counterculture movements, sparked by antiwar politics and Black Power ideology, greatly influenced the environment in which Black student activism emerged and the strategies students chose to employ. In particular, the core tenets of Black Power ideology profoundly shaped the direction and strategies of Black student activism through its emphasis on the political mobilization of marginalized members of the African American community and its critique of normative forms of political behavior. The greatest impact that Black Power ideology had on youth activists of the Black Studies movement was in shaping their overarching goal, which was to transform institutions of higher learning and create a society in which African Americans held a permanent position of power.
Clear parallels in the collective demands put forth by students reveal how their vision for the discipline shaped its formation. My research shows that seeking to dismantle the historic exclusion of the Black experience from mainstream realms of consideration, Black students pushed for a set of three demands. These demands included (1) increasing the representation of African Americans on college campuses in the faculty and student body, (2) improving the university’s relations to its surrounding community; and (3) the creation of a formal Black Studies program. Clearly, students saw Black Studies as a mechanism for creating an autonomous African American community that would secure a position of power for those within and beyond the university. This institution would ensure that academic scholarship focused on the Black experience and uncovered solutions to the problems plaguing the community.
My assessment finds that the most influential factors on the student activism and the development of Black Studies were geographical location, historical legacy and traditions, local environment and policies, and the demographic patterns of students who matriculated to these schools.
My research illustrates that since its formal inception in the mid-1960s, Black Studies has provided the academy with intersectional methods of analyzing institutions and their implications for broader society. Thus, a revitalization of energy around the discipline will ensure that if fulfills its potential as a transformative agent in the larger world. To renew energy and urgency around the discipline, those invested in its development will have to restore student involvement in the field as well as strengthen engagement with the African American community.
Matthew Diton, Covering the Shifting Sands: American Media and the Arab Spring
I argue that the American media’s coverage of the Arab Spring revolts was adequate in comparison to the coverage of previous events in the Middle East and North African region despite several errors, and also that the coverage represents a change into a new system of foreign reporting. To arrive at these conclusions I conducted a content analysis of various news sources’ coverage of the Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions, which were chosen because they were amongst the first Revolutions to occur during the Arab Spring, and also because they both resulted in a complete regime change. The content analysis studied the coverage of the New York Times, the Washington Post, FOX News, CBS, ABC, and NBC. All of these news sources were chosen due to their widespread prominence in American society.
My first chapter serves as a justification of media analyses in general, primarily using Shanto Iyengar and Donald Kinder’s book, News that Matters. In their book, Iyengar and Kinder describe several media effects that impact how the media shapes the public’s understanding and perception of various events. Most significantly, they describe the agenda setting effect, which shows that issues that receive the most attention from the media become the issues that the public deems most important and pays the most attention to. Following the description of media effects, I proceed to describe the flawed American media’s coverage of the last Arabic revolution, the Iranian Revolution in1978-79 to provide historical context for my analysis, and also describe an instance of media coverage that has been almost universally declared a failure.
Following a brief description of the Tunisian and Egyptian Revolutions, I turn to my own analysis of the coverage of the two Revolutions. In my analysis I describe several errors in the media’s coverage. In no particular order, these errors are (1) false attribution of leadership and (2) sensationalism of the roles of violence and religion in the protests. Not all aspects of the coverage were negative, however, as unlike in previous examples of foreign reporting, the media was not subservient to the official administration line. Additionally, I argue that the large quantity of coverage of the Egyptian Revolution, in comparison to the other uprisings, suggests an American-centric bias in the media’s coverage because of Egypt’s strategic importance to American foreign policy in the region.
After critiquing the media’s coverage, I conclude the thesis by arguing that the manner in which the media covered the various Revolutions represents a fundamental change in foreign reporting. In the wake of the global economic downturn that has forced the closure of many foreign bureaus, traditional mainstream media sources have begun to rely more on social and alternative media sources and parachute journalists for information. These new sources of information both reduce the cost of coverage for the media sources and also provide a new conduit of information so that the reporters can rely less on official government sources for information. However, without traditional foreign correspondents in countries around the globe, it is more difficult for the American media to get a completely accurate report of global events. This proved to be the case during the Arab Spring, when many of the media’s mistakes came as a result of a poor understanding of Arabic culture and individual national sentiments. Barring a significant change in the economic structures of mainstream media sources (particularly newspapers, which have been hit hardest in recent years), I believe that the impact of social and alternative media sources and parachute journalists will continue to rise in foreign reporting, and the manner in which the media covered the Arab Spring will become the new norm for foreign event coverage.
Duan (Kate) Duan, Understanding the China Bubble
China is a rising giant that has been attracting the world’s spotlight because of its speed and potential in economic growth. However, the Chinese economy began to show signs of overheating since the mid-2000s and it is certainly bubbling now. This thesis reveals the full picture of China’s bubble by arguing the entire process of how China’s macroeconomic imbalance is translated through its financial system and reflected as overlending and overinvestment.
In chapter 2, I argue that China’s macroeconomic imbalance is the root cause of the excessive liquidity in its domestic economy. The controlled renminbi exchange rate against the dollar and an imbalanced trading sector with huge dollar inflows jointly create a condition where monetary expansion is difficult to control. I further argue that the central bank’s sterilization tools are not effective in controlling the overall liquidity in the economy. Instead, sterilization tools reduce the commercial banks’ profitability and induce them to overlend at low rates and as a result, flush the economy with cheap credits.
Chapter 3 examines the banking system in China and explains how financial resources are intermediated via both formal and informal channels. Commercial banks in China seek for economic interests by lending, but they also function as political instruments for the state. Lending in the formal banking system is extremely biased towards the state-owned enterprises. As a result, many private enterprises are unable to get the capital they need from banks and they have to turn to the informal channels for funding. When the state-owned enterprises receive too many loans, they recirculate them to the shadow banking system and arbitrage the interest rate difference. With the flourish of trusts as the major intermediary, the shadow banking system encourages excessive lending to private enterprises at unsustainably high rates. In recent years, informal lending to real estate developers has become especially problematic and is aggravating the real estate bubble.
Chapter 4 contains a case study of China’s local government debt problem. After the 2008 financial crisis, the central government initiated a stimulus program and adopted a loose monetary policy to boost growth. As a result, local governments created a borrowing binge and invested massively in infrastructure projects. I argue that local governments have created a debt bubble as most infrastructure projects are either too early built or extremely wasteful and thus cannot generate enough returns for debt service. The local government debt bubble is a prominent case where an aggressive monetary expansion leads to overlending in the financial system and overinvestment in the real economy.
Mark Duerksen, Monumentalizing Africa’s Momentous Decade: Building a Nation and Monuments in Uganda
In 1962, the year Ugandans won freedom from British colonial rule, Gregory Maloba memorialized the momentous political accomplishment, and arguably also challenge, in Independence Monument and Independence Arch in downtown Kampala. I examine the history and aesthetics of Maloba’s monuments in order to understand what he intended them to convey, and what Ugandans have interpreted and appropriated them to mean. Explicating the evolving meanings of Maloba’s monuments provides a revealing lens to explore how Ugandans have struggled to give meaning to their own independence.
The first chapter reviews relevant scholarly literature on the significance of architecture in shaping identities and conceptions of power in emergent nations. Short sketches of the independence-era architecture projects in Ghana and Tanzania introduce general issues that the following chapters examine in greater detail for Uganda.
Chapters 2 and 3 contextualize how Ugandans understood independence in the context of how the British had ruled Uganda through the kabaka (king) of Buganda, one of the historic polities in the colony, and argue that British pressure resulted in Ganda thinking of their kabaka’s monumental thatched “palaces” as symbols of dominant power instead of places to experience the reciprocal relations that had underlain the historic kingdom. Chapter 3 then traces Maloba’s artistic development as student and professor at Makerere University in Kampala, where he experimented freely for the time period and distanced himself from the movement to “Africanize” art in the colony, perhaps in distaste for British perversions of a dynamic medium of participation to a sterile “tradition.” Chapters 2 and 3 also set the political tensions as Uganda prepared for independence, in which the politician who negotiated an alliance that promised to govern independent Uganda, Milton Obote, came to power at the head of a deeply divided coalition that shared no unified conception of nationalism beyond a short-term grab for power.
Chapter 4 argues that Maloba intended Independence Monument to invite reflection on Uganda’s ambiguous past, present, and political future, offering hope for independence if his countrymen and –women could find a unifying bond while still respecting multiculturalism and progress. Obote employed Maloba to create a second monument, Independence Arch, to represent Obote’s personal desire to become the paternalistic, controlling, father figure around whom Ugandans could unite. The Arch symbolizes Obote’s sheltering ambitions by offering a shaded area outside of the National Assembly for Ugandans to mingle, under a medallion of Obote’s profile. Neglect of Independence Monument’s message of the ambiguities of nationhood in the present and popular misinterpretations Independence Arch as a threatening symbol of Obote’s despotic political ambitions explain why Uganda spiraled into twenty years of ethnic conflict and militaristic misrule under Idi Amin after independence.
The troubled legacies of Maloba’s monuments form the subject of chapter five. Current President Museveni (since 1986) ended the neglect of Independence Monument by appropriating it as a symbol of his regime in attempts to convince prospective international donors that Uganda had fulfilled the hopes of unity and balanced prosperity that Maloba had expressed in the monument. Museveni’s government has given the Monument increased recognition, but skeptical Ugandan media have interpreted it as a symbol of Museveni’s reliance on outside sponsors and thus as a symbol of the failures of independence and the continued grip of neo- colonialism.
The conclusion highlights the particulars of Uganda’s monuments in comparison to the monuments of Ghana and Tanzania, such as the competition that resulted in an artist designing an ambiguous, reflective monument. Next the conclusion accounts for Africa’s tragic monumentalized militarization – the failure of African independence to full its promises – by considering the lack of means available to African nations, which were once available for Europeans to forge the nationalism required of modern states. The conclusion then considers the talented contemporary artist community in Uganda, people who keep alive Maloba’s hopes for a country engaged with the careful contemplation of artists. Finally the thesis concludes with a reminder that all monuments include the humanistic dynamics of art, which can motivate people who create their own varied meanings for the monuments, far beyond the sterile theoretical categories of architectural critics.
Alex Eschenroeder, Currents and Sub-Currents: The Long Trek to Comprehensive Health Care Reform in America and The Promise of Patient Centered Care
I argue that finding effective ways to work within the American health care system primarily through delivery system reform is an enduring and promising way to move the notion of health care as a human right closer to reality in America. After arguing that understanding the history of the U.S. health care system is essential in understanding the system that exists today, I start my historical analysis by examining the improvement of medical institutions and the development of physicians’ professional and cultural authority. I show that this authority was rooted in higher levels of clinical effectiveness, which also resulted in higher costs.
I explain the motivations and reasons for failure of reform efforts from the Progressive Movement to President Truman’s defeated call for national insurance after World War II. In covering these historical points, I highlight factors in addition to cost concerns, especially the power of private interests, that made resistance to reform successful. I also introduce modern private insurance and explain the reasons behind its spread throughout America as well as its role in opposing governmental health care reform attempts.
My transition away from the Truman reform attempt introduces the shifting goals of health reform in light of awareness of the implausibility of radical change to the health care system. I argue that the 1965 passage of Medicare and Medicaid, which are both programs designed to assist specific populations, reflect this shift.
I then introduce both Medicare and Medicaid and explain how their interactions with the American health care system encouraged cost growth in the years following their establishment. I evaluate the reform efforts of Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter in response to this cost growth and conclude that their attempts failed because of a lack of prioritization of the issues, and because of the difficulties posed by an increasingly complex set of opposing private and political interests in the health care system.
I also introduce HMOs and ERISA and explain their influence on President Clinton’s decision to pursue a comprehensive health system reform following moderate federal government program expansions under President Reagan. After describing Clinton’s reform attempt and explaining his reasons for failure, I analyze the lead up to and passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) under President Barack Obama in 2010.
I first present the popular provisions of the ACA before addressing the individual mandate and Medicaid expansion. Given the possibility that one or both of these provisions, and maybe the ACA as a whole, will be either repealed or deemed unconstitutional, I highlight a sub- current of reform known as delivery system reform that will likely persist with or without the ACA. I argue that the design of delivery system reform is promising given its understanding of provider behavior and desire to work in the current American health care system to reduce costs and maximize quality. Finally, I argue that these reforms, although currently in experimental phases, will prove to be enduring because of their practical benefits, but also because they save costs by place prioritizing patient-centeredness.
Maj-Britt Frenze, Hedgehogs in Conversation: Suffering and Guilt in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov
This is a thesis about suffering and guilt in The Brothers Karamazov and their relation to moral systemization. It is Dostoevsky’s belief that suffering is a process totally independent, and indeed antithetical to, moral attitudes that perceive of ethics as legalistic. In this thesis, I argue that positive moral law can be used as a means of asserting self-righteousness, and that such claims of perfect adherence to moral law function as an artificial mitigation of the kind of suffering caused by a guilty conscience. I narrow this extremely broad idea by focusing my discussion primarily on Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, and I reference the philosophical thinkers Kierkegaard, Berdyaev, and Levinas in order to see how Dostoevsky’s conception of suffering relates to prominent thinkers with an interest in philosophical theology and moral law.
I begin by using Kierkegaard’s thought as an introduction to the religious experience as one of suffering and inherent ambiguity; because we are finite human beings attempting to engage with absolute religious truths, an inevitable gap exists between the actuality of those truths and our perceptions of them. I then introduce Dostoevsky himself, with particular reference to The Brothers Karamazov. I argue that the suffering with which Dostoevsky is primarily concerned is that which stems inevitably from the existence of free will. Free will offers to human beings the necessity of choosing which actions to undertake and to which moral systems to subscribe. Though I by no means argue that this necessity translates into a kind of moral relativism by which each individual invents his own truth, I insist that human beings are subjected to enough ambiguity in this life as to preclude the possibility of claiming perfect moral knowledge. Because we can never be assured of our own righteousness, we live out our lives constantly aware of a guilt that pervades our relationships to others. Thus the moral experience is one pervaded by suffering that stems from a guilty conscience in the eyes of these thinkers.
I organize the thesis through a reading of The Brothers Karamazov in which I focus on suffering and guilt. I first introduce Dostoevsky and his view of suffering as an experience essentially independent of material or environmental factors; furthermore, it is an experience inherent to freedom. As will be discussed, his opinion on this subject largely colors his view of socialism. Along this vein, I discuss Berdyaev’s development of some of these ideas concerning the relation between freedom and suffering. In the third chapter, I shift the focus of the discussion to the guilt of conscience that results from freedom. I discuss Dostoevsky’s conception of guilt alongside Levinas’ insistence upon unlimited debt to “the other.” I wish to show that this outpouring to the other defies the limitations of systematized, or quantified, morality.
In writing this thesis I hope to offer an account of how The Brothers Karamazov resonates with thinkers concerned with the relation between morality and legalism., and I hope to elucidate the central role that suffering plays in the belief that the moral life cannot be quantified or calculated in such a way as to avoid suffering.
Annacrizelda Funtelar, Race, Culture, and History: An Examination of the Political Thought of W.E.B. Du Bois and Franz Boas at the Turn of the Century
This thesis is an examination of the political and social thought of activist and scholar, W.E.B. Du Bois, and the German-American anthropologist, Franz Boas at the end of the nineteenth, and beginning of the twentieth century. During this time, the United States was simultaneously a nation of great wealth, and influence on the global stage, and a nation characterized by violent and tragic racial violence domestically, and high colonialism abroad. Many social scientists produced knowledge that championed racial, economic, and social hierarchies both domestically and abroad. Understandings and valuations of the racial types, the diversity of human cultures, and history during this time represented important spaces of intellectual and political negotiation. During a time of rampant racism and imperialism, W.E.B. Du Bois and Franz Boas would courageously challenge racialized and racist conceptions of racial types, human cultures, and socio-evolutionary narratives of history.
I begin by outlining the assumptions of race science at the turn of the century. I explain the ways in which biological, human evolution and cultural, civilizational evolution were conceptualized by Victorian social scientists of the day to be inextricably bound to one another. The laws governing models of human evolution were understood to be timeless, natural, and universal. This problematic conception of evolution produced a racialized view of human history that purported that one look out across the human diversity around the world and observe human beings at all stages of “development.”
After examining the particular formulations of race, culture, and history to which Boas and Du Bois respond, I examine the ways in which Boas and Du Bois sought to challenge racist science on the grounds of science itself. Through the lens of Boas’ 1909 Immigrant Study, I examine the ways in which Boas combatted the anthropometric data that physical anthropologists of the time used in order to establish racial types, and subsequently predict mental capacity. Using Du Bois’ The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study, I examine the ways in which Du Bois employed the methods of social science in order to debunk eugenic and pathological assumptions in relation to black communities. I argue that both Boas and Du Bois place history at the foreground of the ways in which they seek to challenge race science on the grounds of science itself.
Next, I examine the ways in which Du Bois and Boas articulate race, culture, and history in their works intended for a popular audience. Du Bois and Boas fundamentally reformulate the prevalent popular and academic understandings of race, culture, and history through discussions of the ways in which these concepts were rooted in history, and inextricably bound to institutions of power and economics. Though Victorian social scientists of the day conceptualized their models of race, culture, and history to be universal, timeless, and natural, through the work of Boas and Du Bois, we can begin to understand the ways in which they were not.
An examination of these powerful texts by Boas and Du Bois brings to light the weighted symbolism of seemingly neutral and universal terms. For both of these theorists, to understand race, culture, and history during this time was to understand the ways in which these concepts were deeply embedded in the politics of culture and power. It meant grappling with the ways in which humanity was conceptualized in a time of racial turmoil, in the context of a world in transition.
M. Pemberton Heath, Climate Change in Historical Perspective: A Comparison through Economic and Ethical Frameworks
In this thesis I place climate change in the context of three historical cases of public and environmental health: cigarette smoke and the tobacco industry, ozone depletion, and acid rain. Through the lens of economic analysis I articulate the unprecedented difficulty of solving the climate change problem. I simultaneously find that ethical arguments compel actors to regulate climate change for the preservation of intergenerational justice.
There have always existed natural amounts of greenhouse gases in the earth’s environment, and these gases regulate the temperature of the planet by trapping thermal radiation on earth. Since the industrial revolution human forces have been emitting greenhouse gases in unprecedented amounts, and concentrations of greenhouse gases have risen above values previously witnessed in human history. Increased concentrations of greenhouse gases have caused the temperature of the planet to increase nearly one degree Celsius over the past century. Without limitations on greenhouse gas emissions, temperatures could increase up to six degrees Celsius over the next century. This warming will both directly and indirectly affect human society in potentially catastrophic ways. In order to avert these damages, the United States and the world must take immediate steps to limit emissions of greenhouse gases.
Four chapters comprise the thesis. In chapter one I outline the most current understanding of the science, economics, and political relevance of climate change. In chapter two, I give background on the three historical cases of the tobacco industry, ozone depletion and acid rain. In chapter three I utilize an economic framework to analyze climate change in light of the three historic cases. In chapter four, I use a broader ethical framework to identify moral obligations for action on climate change.
I argue that action on climate change is of unprecedented difficulty because regulators face three significant barriers to action: uncertainty, temporal and spatial distance between origin and destination of negative externalities, and a lack of affordable alternatives to fossil fuel intensive goods. Climate change is the only case considered that faces all three of these barriers; the combination and scope of impediments exacerbates the challenge of enacting regulation.
I further argue that despite these difficulties the United States has a moral obligation to slow global climate change. Without overlooking the inherent difficulties in doing so, I outline that we must take action in order to preserve intergenerational justice and the progression of society towards moral maturity. The strength of the ethical arguments for action trumps the associated difficulties in discharging moral obligations.
The time to act on climate change is now. This thesis attempts to explain why the particular characteristics of climate change make action difficult, but why those same characteristics mandate that regulators move forward with capping CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions. By achieving a better understanding of climate change, especially as it relates to previous cases where the United States has had to protect public and environmental health, we can better understand how to turn inaction into the much needed action required to address global climate change.
Tatiana Matthews, On Education Reform: The Transcendentalists, John Dewey, and the Harlem Children’s Zone
I examine three American education reform movements—two historical, one current—in order to address the ongoing debate surrounding American education reform. At three separate moments over a two-century span, the Transcendentalists, John Dewey, and the Harlem Children’s Zone radically re-envisioned the aims, process, and practice of education and offered an alternative to the educational status quo. In particular, each movement’s philosophy addressed the role of individual and social development in the learning process, and each movement’s primary actors opened a school whose example, they hoped, would influence practice on a larger scale.
In Boston at the beginning of the 19th Century, the status quo was a hierarchy of Unitarian educational institutions and a schooling paradigm of chaotic classrooms, corporal punishment, and religious indoctrination. The Transcendentalists envisioned an education system that valued the student’s spiritual and personal development. By the turn of the 20th century, the status quo was a nationalized bureaucratic school culture of assimilation, rote learning, and strict behavioral codes. John Dewey envisioned an education system that connected to the student’s own interests and linked the learning process to larger social goals. In our current moment, the status quo is an institution of mass schooling that too often fails to account for the external factors facing students—especially minority students— living in areas beset by systemic poverty. Geoffrey Canada envisions an education system that takes the student’s social circumstances into account.
I analyze the movements’ foundational philosophies and educational practices in order to address two questions out of the many issues within American education reform. First, what are the aims of education? Second, does top-down or bottom-up implementation achieve those aims best? From a reformist mindset, the first is a question of what change should strive for, and the second, a question of where change comes from: the individual acting on society and its institutions, or institutions acting on individuals.
I argue that the Transcendentalists and Dewey hold in common a distinctive view of the aims and process of education that, although manifested differently by each movement in practice, encountered similar difficulties in implementation. After establishing and comparing their philosophies, I examine the Harlem Children’s Zone as a working site to evaluate the capacity and relevance of these philosophies to current schooling and reform.
Victoria McLaughlin, Anonymous: What do we have to fear from hacktivism, the lulz, and the hive mind?
In this thesis, I argue that the online collective Anonymous deserves serious attention as a hacktivist group. Anonymous has gotten a lot of press lately, but because the group is an amorphous online collective most famous for foreboding YouTube press releases and Guy Fawkes masks few people take the group seriously. However, Anonymous is more than just a trolling outfit and it is important to recognize the real consequences of hacktivism. Hacktivism, a portmanteau of hacking and activism, is the use of computers and/or hacking techniques towards political and social ends. Anonymous’s main tool of hacktivism is distributed denial of services attacks (DDoS), an attack where a website is overloaded with traffic and shuts down for a period of time. Some, like anthropologist Gabriella Coleman, consider DDoS attacks to be a form of peaceful social protest. Coleman likens a DDoS attack to a digital sit-in. But, the FBI and international law enforcement agencies have arrested Anons around the globe that participated in DDoS attacks against public and private websites. I argue that, because DDoS attacks are not a national security concern, arresting and prosecuting attackers harms Internet freedom and undermines the spirit of the Internet.
The first chapter is a history of the hive mind and its origins on 4chan.org. Anonymous has a history of doing ‘spectacularly stupid’ things, but recent Anonymous Operations, such as Project Chanology, a protest again the Church of Scientology, and Operation Payback, an operation attacking anti-piracy outfits, indicate that the hacktivist collective is not only motivated by the lulz, a corruption of laugh out loud; the expression usually expresses joy in someone else’s misfortune. The second chapter is a brief history of the Internet and the hacker ethic, beginning in the 1980s. In the chapter, I elaborate on the open structure of the internet network and how this supported creativity and community among hackers. The chapter ends with a discussion of the end of the golden age of hacking and the rise of trolling, which I call the new nethic, or Net ethic. The third chapter describes Anonymous’s transformation into a politically active group; I advocate that Anonymous’s actions be assessed in terms of Internet use and misuse, that is, does the hive mind support or undermine the founding principles, such as free access and free information, of the Internet? The fourth chapter describes specific AnonOps and demonstrates that although Anonymous is an online collective, their actions have real consequences.
In the conclusion, I discuss the US State Department’s Free Internet Agenda and the three challenges that the open Internet poses to society. Namely, the open Internet and hackers put our liberty and security at risk; however, legislating against such activities would be a greater infringement upon First Amendment rights. In the end, I agree with cybersecurity specialist Richard Forno that Anonymous, as of yet, has not caused any grave damage and it is therefore better to live with the threat of a raid than begin a preemptive strike.
Emma Murphy, Dorothy Day and The Integrated Life
As a journalist and co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement, Dorothy Day (1897-1980) envisioned a life that united faith and practice. Committed to ordering her writing and work around the reality of God, she pursued a life of holistic integrity, which she termed, “the integrated life.” This thesis examines Dorothy Day’s integrated life from the founding of the Catholic Worker to the culmination of her eschatological vision in the postwar era. In the integrated life, Day sought a realization of the “whole” person as a creature of God in both body and spirit, in historical time as well as eternity.
After addressing Day’s recent consideration for canonization, the introduction traces the intersection of her religious conviction and her concern for the poor. This intersection defined Day’s search for a union of faith and work before her life with the Catholic Worker. In chapter 1, I explain personalism and the Catholic doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ, which supplied the social and theological frameworks for Day’s integrated life. In chapter 2, I begin my study of the integrated life with the emergence of the Catholic Worker amidst the Great Depression. I argue that Day’s unique perspective as a Communist convert to Catholicism enabled her to merge her faith and her work in her response to the plight of the Depression era “workers.” Beyond restoring a Christian foundation to Communism, Day’s integrated life offered a positive, faith-based program for social change that affirmed the reality of God.
In chapter 3, I address the Catholic Worker’s transition into the World War II era, during which the practice of the retreats prompted the growth of Day’s eschatological vision. In this period, Day’s writing asserted a transformed way of life and a new focus on redressing social inequality as a fulfillment of the ultimate destiny of mankind and a realization of the present Kingdom of God on earth. In chapter 4, I conclude my discussion of the integrated life in the American postwar era. During this period Day’s notion of the integrated life culminated in her call to community with the poor. Community, as the sole solution to the “long loneliness” of human life, involves living and working with others to realize the united love of God and neighbor. Defining the poor as Christ’s literal presence on earth, Day perceived knowing and loving the poor as a necessary antecedent to communal salvation. In the theology of compassion, or shared suffering, Day formed the basis of her vision for the lay apostolate while also anticipating the Roman Church’s stance of the “preferential option for the poor.” I conclude with a brief reconsideration of Day’s canonization in light of her call for a universal sainthood of all Christians.
Eman Niazi, The Golden Lyric: Reflections in the Service of Iqbalianism
Muhammad Iqbal was born in 1877 in the sleepy city of Sialkot, Punjab, located in what was then undivided British India. Between then and his death in 1938, Iqbal gained regional and international fame as one of the greatest thinkers of modern times. It is reported that more than 70,000 Indian subjects participated in his funeral procession. Many view Iqbal as having single- handedly recreated the modern poetic tradition of the Urdu-Hindi language through his poetry. Beyond verse, Iqbal’s philosophical engagement with Islamic tradition has also had him described as the most important Islamic thinker of the last century.
In 1947, the British Crown ordered the partitioning of India along religious lines, resulting in the creation of modern-day India and Pakistan. Due to his political activism on the behalf of Indian Muslims, Iqbal was claimed “the national thinker” of independent Pakistan. Today in Pakistan his ideas have been appropriated for various, and at times problematic, political ends. Across the Wagah border, “Iqbal Day” is still enthusiastically celebrated throughout India, where most school children can recite his ode to a free Hindustan, Saare Jahan Se Acha. Due to the troubling history of the Subcontinent, Iqbal’s legacy and the meaning behind his works have been obscured.
Many today view Iqbal’s ideas as a sum of fascinating contradictions. But upon a closer reading of his philosophical works, it becomes possible to discover a deeper current to his thinking, a “golden lyric”, which resolves these oft-suggested inconsistencies. Indeed, there is in Iqbal’s work an unrelenting drive toward a comprehensive, and fundamentally unified, understanding of the human condition; one that boldly reaches across civilizations in order to construct its approach to the world. Thus, this thesis is an effort to present that greater Iqbalian Weltanschauung –what I described as Iqbalianism.
In presenting Iqbal’s ideas as an independent philosophical system, it becomes necessary to free his thought from the many “categories” in which it is often placed. Thus, this thesis might be viewed as a two-part project. The first part (roughly chapters 1, 2 and 3) consists of presenting Iqbal’s ideas in their deepest form. Iqbal’s approach might be broadly described as anti-classical, forward-looking and humanist. Central to his view of humankind is a championing of praxis and the sanctity of the individual.
Part two examines the implications of Iqbalianism in light of the insights accumulated in part one. Thus, part two attempts to free Iqbal from his associations with Islamic nationalism or the creation of Pakistan. At its boldest, part two suggests that Iqbalianism be viewed as a universal philosophy responding to humankind’s collective modern predicament. This is how Iqbal viewed his own ideas, not as the Islamic attempt to “catch up”, but as a vision for civilization’s greater next step. As a cure for modernity’s many ailments. Thus “part two” also attempts to free Iqbal from the well-known category of “Muslim poet-philosopher”. If there is a contribution that these essays make, it is in presenting Iqbalianism as a universal idea without shying away from the Islamic source of his inspiration. For Iqbal, Islam was something far more abstract than tradition; it was the embodiment of humankind’s first impulse in the pursuit of universal equality. For Iqbal, Islam is humanism.
Iqbalianism presents an opportunity to engage the Islamic world in a consensual, modern framework. Some view any engagement with Ancient tradition as a dangerous project and prefer an approach that seeks to side-step the “Muslim question” and offer preconceived Western solutions. But as the events of the last decade have shown, these “solutions” are short-term and ignore the greater challenge –and the great possibility– that Islam as a source of civilization holds. Whatever the danger of engagement, Iqbal suggested, through his life and work, that ignorance might be the greatest danger of all.
Marvin Allen Richards, Jr., Privilege, Power, & Appropriation: The Essence of ‘Authentic’ Performance
This study examines the progression of attitudes on the performance of race and sexuality within western culture. With notions of a post-racial society looming about, one begs a deeper question: Are we in a post-essentialist wave culturally? Essentialism, the practice of regarding something (as a presumed human trait) as having innate existence or universal validity rather than as being a social, ideological, or intellectual construct (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Could one step outside the socially constructed role that some would argue as innate and step into a social and cultural performance that is in opposition to one’s internal essence or nature? I want to take a look at race and sexuality, two descriptors often argued as being deterministic and ingrained in one’s existence. I argue that this post-essentialist wave has a limited scope in terms of attainability for all.
To examine racial fluidity, I researched the current trend of white female artists, entering the Blues and Soul sector of the music industry. In terms of social construction, Blues and Soul, historically, have been linked with African-Americans. But since the start of the 21st Century, the majority of mainstream Soul artists are white females. If Blues and Soul is considered an innate art performance of African-Americans, what is behind white female artists wanting and being able to tap into a culture that is essentially opposite of their white racial identity? Since this fluidity is happening for white women, are black women able to achieve the same type of racial fluidity. For example, can a black female artist pursuing a career in the alternative rock & roll sector of the music industry, which historically has been associated with whiteness, be able to successfully penetrate this sector or are they pressured to stay within the ‘black’ genres of music?
For sexuality, I focus solely on male sexuality and the ability of white heterosexual identifying men to adopt behaviors generally associated with gay men. I focus on male sexuality following Michael Kimmel, a sociologist who claims that hegemonic or most sought after masculinity is at odds with homosexuality; to be masculine, one has to be homophobic. If Kimmel’s claim is correct, how are straight men, especially white straight men, able to perform aspects of homosexuality, without being pressured to adopt a ‘true’ self that is homosexual? Can gay men, in ways comparable to straight men, appropriate aspects of a sexuality that conflict with their primary sexual identity? Can straight-identifying men of color be fluid with their sexuality without facing the consequences of being pressured to adopt a homosexual label and identity? Because sexuality is obviously complex, and because, as Michel Foucault points out, our culture tends to subscribe to the idea of an essential or fixed sexual identity, I researched numerous institutions in which some aspect of homosexuality is being performed by straight identifying men. Those institutions include acting careers within Hollywood, the gay porn industry, and the online, social community, Craigslist.
My findings and analysis show that we are moving into a post-essentialist wave on the grounds of race and sexuality, but only the dominant racial and sexual populations have racial and sexual fluidity. Secondly, racial and sexual fluidity is achieved by resorting to essentialism.
Andrew Seidman, Why Public Service Journalism Will Endure: Reflections on the American Newspaper Industry, 1945-present
In this thesis, I consider several challenges to public service journalism, which is broadly defined as journalism that contributes to and frames debate over important public issues, exposes corruption at all levels, spurs reform and establishes trust with readers. The first perceived threat to public service journalism was consolidation in the newspaper industry. My research shows that even as the number of newspapers published in the United States in the latter half of the 20th century did not fluctuate much, they became heavily concentrated into a few conglomerates, or chains. By 1984, chains controlled two-thirds of America’s 1,730 daily newspapers and 72 percent of weekday circulation.
This trend worried both journalists and lawmakers in Congress who thought economic concentration in the newspaper industry could limit the number of editorial voices in any given community. Little consensus has emerged on the subject, however, so I instead offer two case studies of chain-owned daily newspapers to assess what effect, if any, chain ownership has on public service journalism. The case studies show that chain ownership in and of itself is not antithetical to public service journalism. Since roughly 1995, the Los Angeles Times (whose parent company, Times Mirror, merged with Tribune Company in 2000) has been led by chief executives and publishers who had no newspaper experience before they arrived at the Times. As a result, the newspaper experienced a series of humiliating events that damaged the paper’s integrity. The Philadelphia Inquirer, meanwhile, was once a biased independent that rose to national prominence after the Knight-Ridder chain bought it in 1970. Unlike the heads of Tribune Company, the Knights and Ridders were very much invested in high-quality journalism. Between 1972 and 1990, the Inquirer won 17 Pulitzer Prizes, second only to The New York Times.
More recent threats to public service journalism include the recession and a structural change in the industry in which readers have fled to the Internet for news, leading to the decline of the print advertising model which had sustained the newspaper industry for decades. Total advertising revenue dropped from $45.4 billion in 2007 to $23.9 billion in 2011, and classified print advertising has dropped by 75 percent since 2000. Yet I argue that newspapers are poised to remain strong sources of public service journalism in the digital age. The New York Times, for example, started charging readers for full access to NYTimes.com in March 2011, and has already signed up nearly 400,000 digital subscribers. This early success indicates that consumers are willing to pay for journalism online. Hundreds of newspapers have followed the Times’ lead, a sign that a once-stubborn industry is now ready to try to pursue new revenue streams. Perhaps even more important for newspapers in the digital age is The New York Times’ success in handling the WikiLeaks saga in 2010. While Julian Assange could have simply posted some hundreds of thousands of cables on his website, he instead decided to deliver the cables to the Times and other news organizations because he knew they had an advantage, one that no blogger or news aggregator will ever have: a newsroom with experienced journalists who could mine through the documents and turn up the most important information.
Finally, I argue that what newspapers have lost in resources through attrition in the newsroom can be made up for by partnering with online nonprofits like ProPublica that offer some of journalism’s finest investigative reporting. Although it is unclear how sustainable these nascent nonprofits can be, their early success also bodes well for public service journalism.
Deeva Shah, Genes and Ownership: The Controversy Over Intellectual Property Rights and Patenting Isolated Human DNA
In 1996, Myriad became the first company to officially file for a patent on the isolation of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, genes that helped diagnose breast cancer. When granted the patent, and thus a monopoly over all commercial uses of the gene, Myriad became embroiled in a conflict that included philosophers, politicians, public health specialists, doctors, researchers, lawyers, and many more. In 2009, the American Civil Liberties Union, working with the Public Patent Foundation, filed a joint lawsuit stating that patents on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes were unconstitutional. In this case, Association for Molecular Pathology, et al. v. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, et al., they argued that Myriad Genetics was using the patents to limit access to diagnostic testing and to prevent others from researching the genes and actually finding a cure for mutation-based breast cancer.
Regardless of the court’s ruling in Association for Molecular Pathology, et al. v. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, et al., the case over Myriad Genetics and its patents created legal, ethical and political questions that lingered even after a verdict had been issues. While the District Court of New York found in favor of the plaintiffs, the Association of Molecular Pathology, et al., the Federal Circuit Court found in favor of the defendants, the United States Patent and Trademark Office and Myriad Genetics. They attempted to address whether or not patents on isolated DNA constituted patents on ‘products of nature’ or were patents that were legally permitted; however both courts interpreted the statute quite differently from each other, leading to much confusion over the standard. Furthermore, the deeper constitutional and especially moral issues remained largely unaddressed by the courts.
I aim to take a deeper look at the Myriad case and use the case as a vehicle to understand the legal and moral arguments regarding a critical question: Should we allow individuals, companies, or even a well-meaning government to essentially own portions of isolated human DNA through patent protection? This case also provides a basis on which to judge the overall effect patenting human DNA has on businesses, researchers, patients, and many other stakeholder groups that are involved. In order to address this larger question, I focus on the following areas. First, I will give an introduction to the basics of patent law and biological patents in order to set a framework to assess the legal issues before the District and Circuit courts. Specifically, I will look at the introduction of biological inventions to patent protection and the conflicts that have arisen in recent history. Second, I will consider whether these existing standards can be applied to the case of patenting isolated DNA. In order to do that, I will discuss the decisions of both the District Court and Circuit Court in Association of Molecular Pathology, et al. v. USPTO and consider the courts’ differing reasons for why isolated DNA patents are or are not legally permissible. Third, I will take a look at the deeper questions the judiciary has failed to consider in the Myriad case. I will take a deeper look at the ethical issues of allowing property and commercial rights over isolated DNA sequences. Finally, I will conclude by addressing the policy concerns of allowing or denying patents on isolated DNA and how the international community has dealt with this apprehension. I will argue that the judiciary is not the only arena in which these conversations regarding patents on isolated DNA should take place.
Evan Avery Shields, Minority Entrepreneurship & Economic Development: Toward A Theoretical Model of Capital Access
This thesis examines the role that black entrepreneurship plays in driving economic development. Black business has seen considerable gains in growth potential in recent years. For instance, between 1987 and 1992, the number of black-owned businesses grew by more than 46% as aggregate revenues of these firms grew from $19.8 billion to $32.2 billion in the same period. In the post-Civil Rights Movement era, the black middle class similarly has seen socio-economic growth as average educational attainment, household income, and quality of occupations have all improved. However, despite this recent growth, a lack of access to financial capital for black business continues to threaten the long-term sustainability of the black community’s economic viability.
In chapter one, I use a sociological approach to entrepreneurship to first explore how ethnic groups in America uniquely perform entrepreneurship as a method of seeking economic stability. I second seek to better understand the effect that capital constraints have on ethnic enterprise. I outline three prevailing sociological theories of minority entrepreneurship, including middleman minority theory, collectivist theory and ethnic enclave theory. Though these approaches provide explanations of immigrant ethnic groups performance in entrepreneurship, namely Japanese-, Greek-, and Cuban-Americans, they do not necessarily correspond to the economic situation of African-Americans. However, the economic detour theory provides an adequate framework for understanding the issues affecting uniquely black entrepreneurs. Marginalization by segregation, discriminatory lending and capitalization behavior, and the like has affected black businesses’ capability of growth. Through an analysis of economic detour we indeed find that a lack of access to capital is chief amongst these issues.
In chapter two, I use economist Joseph Schumpeter’s theory on economic development to more firmly connect black entrepreneurial innovation through financing with black economic development. After providing a detailed analysis of the manner in which enterprises gain financing, I find that ‘information asymmetry,’ a concept describing the disparaging effects of miscommunication between entrepreneurs and financiers, leads to the capital constraints described in chapter one. I believe that black entrepreneurs under an economic detour may face a more racialized form of this information asymmetry that has disproportionately marginalized their access to capital.
In chapter three, I turn to the field of social capital theory to find solutions to the financing obstacle of information asymmetry for black entrepreneurs. I first find in my research that entrepreneurs with social ties to financiers are more likely to receive capital for their firms, than those entrepreneurs who do not. I then turn the analysis toward the financiers themselves, examining the practices of the venture capital (VC) industry in particular. I posit that the minority-oriented venture capital (MOVC), a sub-industry of VC that relies on social ties to make investment deals with minority enterprises, may be a good field for examining these social capital solutions to information asymmetry for black entrepreneurs.
I conclude the thesis with two hypotheses. First, I hypothesize that minority-oriented venture capitalists serve as brokers between investors and black entrepreneurs and help close the gap of information asymmetry during the investment deal-making process. Second, I hypothesize that minority-oriented venture capitalists are economically motivated to closure networks between MOVC funds and entrepreneurs, further closing the gap of helping overcome the asymmetry and benefit minority entrepreneurs with capital constraints. In chapter four, I provide a brief two-part case study examining both of these hypotheses in-action. I first examine two MOVC firms and how they seek economic advantage by performing brokering roles. I second examine the National Association of Investment Companies, a trade organization representing minority-oriented financing groups, and its work in closuring networks of financiers and minority entrepreneurs. Though my analysis within this case study may be limited, I conclude that these hypotheses provide grounding for further research within the field, as well as point toward further solutions toward alleviating the capital constraints affecting black enterprise’s role in black economic development.
Rehema Wachira, Politicizing Education: Kenyan Lessons on Institutional Reform
A predatory government seeking to centralize its power can manipulate the distribution of public goods and services to its own advantage but not without serious consequences. Kenya’s turbulent record of institutional reform shows that political liberalization is a risky endeavor for countries with weak institutions and polarized social groups. Important lessons can be learnt by other developing countries attempting to reform their own institutions.
In Kenya, education is a valuable and strongly demanded national service which the Kenyan government has transformed into a highly contentious political good. In the process, it has damaged the education sector, which has resulted in the further marginalization of the majority of Kenyans. The consequences have been severe and are exemplified by the near breakdown of the political order during the Post-Election Violence crisis of 2007/2008. But they also manifest themselves in more localized ways. For example, in a trend that shows no signs of stopping, it was reported that 7 primary school students and one school Headmaster committed suicide over their national primary school examination results, all at the start of 2012.
The first chapter examines how Kenya’s early political and economic development encouraged the politicization of education and polarized Kenya’s ethnic groups by creating a small ruling elite. The second chapter explores the factors that influenced the concentration and personalization of power in the Executive and his small ruling elite, as well as the subsequent misdirection of state resources toward patronage instead of social development. Finally, I analyse the most recent constitutional reforms, the distribution of power and resources that they entail and the impact it could have on the education sector.
I suggest that the 2002 general elections and the 2007/2008 Post-Election Violence were significant events that altered the country’s development discourse and forced an uneasy partnership between the people and the government. Although it is too early to determine the success of the new reforms, it is clear that Kenya is at a critical juncture with the potential to break the cycle of mismanagement of the education sector in particular and the country as a whole.