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Funded Faculty Research

Current Funded Research

Participatory Study of Study Abroad Students’ Sociopolitical Development

Gabriel Kuperminc, Ph.D., with Tracy Hipp (Doctoral Student)

Department of Psychology

Human Rights in Argentina: From Dictatorship to Democracy (1976-Today) is a 3-credit Maymester study abroad program examining Argentina’s transition from dictatorship to democracy. Students attend lectures and visit historical sites and community centers to explore how trauma, memory, mourning and nostalgia are determining issues in post-dictatorship societies. Over the past three years, more than 30 students have participated, yet we know little about how they benefitted. The number of U.S. students studying abroad has more than doubled in the past decade (Summers, 2011), however research on the impact of study abroad experiences on students’ development remains scarce.

Funds from the Center for Human Rights and Democracy will be used to conduct a participatory study in collaboration with students of the 2012 Maymester Human Rights in Argentina program. Together with Tracy Hipp, an advanced doctoral student in Psychology, I will explore how student engagement with this program influences their critical understanding of issues of human rights, and will document students’ sociopolitical development as a central component of their experience. The term “sociopolitical development” has been used in psychology to describe the process through which individuals gain a critical awareness of issues related to human rights, and to document how and why individuals become active participants in the democratic process. The research will combine traditional social science methods with emerging participatory methods, to provide a rich, multi-informant body of data.

Truth and Reconciliation in Comparative Perspective

Jelena Subotic, Assistant Professor of Political Science

Fernando Reati, Professor of Spanish and Chair of Modern and Classical Languages

The project, “Truth and Reconciliation in Comparative Perspective” will be a collaborative research project that would use regional and issue expertise from a number of members of the Center to explore in new and creative ways the many problems and paradoxes of the concept of truth and reconciliation.  These two concepts have often been used in tandem, however this assumed connection between the two – that truth leads to reconciliation, or that reconciliation is a desirable outcome of truth seeking – is inevitably political and often quite problematic.  In fact, as our comparative project will show, truth about past human rights abuses may not always produce reconciliation and, furthermore, the reconciliation between former adversaries is not always desirable.  We believe that only a broad comparative approach that looks at a range of cases for a number of different regions – South Africa, Argentina, Chile, Ireland, Rwanda, Liberia, the Balkans – can help illuminate these paradoxes and, then, provide alternative mechanisms that can help avoid the unintended consequences of some transitional justice projects.

Funds from the Center will support a series of activities that would lead to the production and submission of a proposal for a future project that would significantly advance the mission, visibility and resources of the Center and support a range of activities of its members.

Hati: Reforming Underdevelopment and State Failure after the Earthquake

Henry F. Carey, Associate Professor of Political Science

Peacebuilding is the UN-sponsored process of promoting human rights and democracy, the goals of the CHRD, in postconflict states.  Haiti was the first precedent and test case for UN Security Council sanctioned humanitarian intervention, broadening the UN Charter requirement of a threat to international peace situations of human rights violations and threats to democracy, which resulted from an earlier failure after the premature departure of UN peacekeeping troops after the 1990-91 elections with the coup overthrowing newly elected President Aristide in Sept. 1991.  Haiti was also one of the original models for UN multilateral election (1990-91), peacebuilding (1994-1999 and 2004-present), human rights monitoring (1992-1994) and NGO-base approaches to sustainable development (1982-present).  Following the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake, effectively, a third peace mission has begun, with emergency humanitarian relief and reconstruction interceding as a protracted initial phase with a transition to traditional peacebuilding postponed, but planned to incorporate state building to replace traditional NGO-led peacebuilding used in the previous two missions. 

Funds from the Center will be used toward the cost of roundtrip airfare and hotel expenses for a research trip to Haiti in Mand and June, 2012.  The research is to support a sole-authored book project, as well as a co-edited book project evolved from a conference sponsored by the Center which I co-organized on February 2, 2011.