2022-2023 Undergraduate Fellowship Program Research Projects

Learn about our current 2022-2023 fellowship projects and requirements below.

Lauren Barden Hair: “Corporate Double Takes: When Firms Agree to Conduct Foreign Security Policy”

Details: New evidence shows multinational corporations (MNCs) regularly accept state requests to become instruments of foreign security policy. These requests are not limited to domestic-based firms: in many cases, states are also able to achieve instrumentalization of foreign firms. The prevalence of these incidents suggests previous theories about state and MNC dynamics are incomplete. Claims will be tested by leveraging data on repeated state requests across the near-universe of news firms in the US and Taiwan. The project also presents suggestive analysis on how different regimes conduct firm instrumentalization, concluding that both autocracies and democracies frequently engage in firm instrumentalization but they use different means to achieve it. 

Fellow Responsibilities:Fellows will be asked to assist with constructing datasets on news CEOs in the US and Taiwan, some review of relevant literature, gathering information through qualitative research, and potential document translation.  Proficiency in Mandarin Chinese would be especially helpful for the parts of the project related to Taiwan. 

Preferred Skills:  Excel / Google Sheets, Network Analysis helpful but not required

Jennie Barker: “Standing Up For Democracy? Democracy Promotion under Emerging Multipolarity”

Details: Despite an increasingly challenging international environment for democracy, why do some states continue to prioritize democratic values in their foreign policies? In this project, I examine why some states promote democracy while others do not and how this has changed over time, particularly as the relative power among powerful democratic states has declined vis-a-vis rising authoritarian states. Given that there are few studies of democracy promotion in middle and small power states in general and no cross-national measures of democracy support in foreign policy, I need to first develop in-depth case studies that examine foreign policy approach to democracy promotion in select middle and small power states. I am looking for 1-2 fellows who have an interest in foreign policy and who are interested in working on literature reviews, case studies, and, if time permits, text analysis of official speeches and documents from ministries of foreign affairs. 

Fellow Responsibilities:Fellows will be expected to conduct case studies on 1-2 states’ approaches to democracy in foreign policy using primary and secondary sources. If interested, fellows may also assist me in analyzing official speeches and other documents from a broader subset of states, particularly by coding the type of statement that government officials make. 

Preferred Skills: R, Web Scrapping, Case Study Research.

Clara Bicalho: “Collective land titles and the political power of ethnic minorities”

Details: Despite major land reform projects beginning in the twentieth century affecting as much as 40 percent of all cultivable land in the region, inequality in land distribution continues to grow in Latin America with tremendous consequences for who holds political power in rural areas. This project seeks to understand the political consequences of a particular type of land distribution in Latin America: the titling of communal land policies targeting black rural communities in Brazil (also known as quilombos). It draws on administrative records, geospatial and electoral data to investigate the role of different components of land titling on the identity, political articulation, and cohesion of newly titled individuals. It also studies the institutional conditions that encourage titling outcomes among eligible communities. I am looking for research fellow(s) with an interest in land rights and/or race and ethnic politics and who are interested in learning research skills, including how to assemble, code, and combine existing qualitative and quantitative data and to engage with initial analyses on titling and political outcomes.

Fellow Responsibilities:The research fellow will assist in several data-related tasks, which may include (a) collecting and processing geospatial data on land titling, land ownership, and use in Brazil from different administrative sources, (b) building a data base of coordinates for polling stations and linking polling station-level data with communities eligible for titling, (c) compiling and reviewing ethnographies, administrative data, and news accounts on the use of land, political organizing, and titling process of particular black rural (quilombola) communities, (d) producing visualizations and data summaries from the data compiled. Specific tasks may depend on the fellow’s interests and skill set. Research fellows who are interested in the subject of land policy and race and ethnic politics in Brazil are encouraged to apply, especially if they want to build skills for social science research. Proficiency reading Portuguese is strongly desired. Experience with data analysis is a plus, but not required.

Preferred Skills: R, ArcGIS, Other (Proficiency reading Portuguese)

Aila Braley: “The Democrat's Dilemma: The Psychology and Structure of Democratic Backsliding”

Details: This project investigates patterns in democratic backsliding worldwide as well as patterns in democratic resilience in the face of autocratic threat. Specifically, the project will examine the role of fear-inducing rhetoric among aspiring autocrats and the role this rhetoric plays in reducing citizen willingness to hold their representatives accountable to democratic norms. This is a comparative project, with work this year focused on survey and field experiments in the US context as well as social media analysis and case study building in other democracies that have experienced backsliding since 1992. Ultimately, we will be working towards understanding the specific dilemmas that pro-democracy parties and social movements face when an aspiring autocrat comes to power in a country, with special attention to the way individual psychology contributes to national outcomes. 

Fellow Responsibilities:There are a few different areas where fellows with different interests and skills may contribute to this project. For the data science inclined, there is work to be done in scraping rhetoric of aspiring autocrats from social media accounts and analyzing it using machine learning.  For those inclined toward the qualitative, there is work to be done building mini-case studies of democratic backsliding and resilience in select countries. Additional work may include conducting literature reviews in related subjects.

Preferred Skills: Python, R, Web Scrapping, Excel / Google Sheets. Please note that not all fellows need to have all of these skills.

Juan Campos: “The Politics of Police Reform and Organized Crime: Evidence from Mexico”

Details: Although organized crime-related violence was already on the rise during the 1980s and 90s (Trejo and Ley 2020), the security situation in Mexico declined even further when former president Felipe Calderon declared war on the nation’s drug cartels in 2006. Since then, organized crime groups (OCGs) have started to engage more frequently in armed struggles not only with each other, but with the state as well (Lessing 2015). These events prompted political scientists to think more carefully about how the state should respond to violence perpetrated by criminal organizations now that the “Drug War” has been initiated. The scholarly consensus is that militarized tactics such as leadership decapitations and armed confrontations only lead to more violence and insecurity (Calderón et al. 2015; Osorio 2015) and, as a result, national governments should employ “conditional” approaches when dealing with criminal organizations—that is, only engage with the most violent cartels as it is inefficient to target all of them at once (Lessing 2017). However, one question that remains underexplored in the literature is how the dynamics of the drug conflict impacts police reform at the subnational level. Studying how criminal governance—and the state’s militarized response to it—affects police reform efforts is important because these civilian-oriented reforms have implications for how effectively the state can provide public safety to ordinary citizens in Mexico.

Fellow Responsibilities:For this research project, CPD Fellows will be expected to collect both quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of sources. Other functions entail cleaning and organizing data and collaborating with fellow CPD fellows to complete other aspects of the project.

Preferred Skills: R, STATA, Excel / Google Sheets, Spanish fluency.

Dinara Ermakova: “Energy Systems’ Environmental Impact”

Details: Radioactive waste management has the high degree of international harmonization of standards arising from recommendations made by such bodies as the IAEA and the ICRP. On the contrary, the coal industry waste does not require geologic disposal or special treatment. However, the content of radioactive elements in coal ash is high enough to extract uranium for nuclear fuel production [1], and according to the EPA the coal ash is NORM and does not require any special treatment. “Some power plants may dispose of it in surface impoundments or in landfills. Others may discharge it into a nearby waterway under the plant's water discharge permit” [2]. At the same time, according to the EPA website, the coal ash contains contaminants like mercury, cadmium and arsenic that are toxic metals and can pose a health risk to the general population. Without proper management, these contaminants can pollute waterways, ground water, drinking water, and the air. This type of controversy would not be allowed for nuclear waste, but is a common case for the coal, oil and gas industry and solar industry that has not yet provided any waste management plan for aging solar panels. 

Comparisons between toxic substances generated during the life cycle of different energy sources are not straightforward for the purpose of waste management as well as fair comparison of an environmental impact. The effect of radioactive dust or trace elements inhalation or ingestion would increase the probability of a cancer developing in several years' time, whilst most other strong toxins lead to more immediate death. Best comparisons indicate that, gram for gram, toxins such as, for example, ricin, some snake venoms, cyanide, and even caffeine are significantly more toxic than plutonium or uranium.

In this work we would like to explore the life cycle waste generation for different energy production cycles (from mining to the disposal of used components); provide a metric that would allow the comparison of wastes generated from nuclear industry and other toxic waste generated by energy industry; provide regulatory recommendations for waste management of toxic waste using the practices that are already in use in the nuclear energy industry. 

Fellow Responsibilities: Data collection, data analysis.

Preferred Skills: Excel/Google Sheets

Rachel Fisher: “Strategic Political Mobilization of Women through Religious Messaging”

Details: From far-right and Christian nationalist paramilitaries to Islamist and Salafi-jihadist organizations, religious extremism is increasingly influencing mainstream politics across the globe. Concurrently, politicians and political elites have instrumentally utilized these networks' religious messaging to garner political support among constituents. This project examines how these sociopolitical shifts include and affect women. I am seeking 1-2 research fellows with an interest in identity politics and political behavior along with regional interest in and/or familiarity with Indonesia and Senegal. Research fellows may work with interview, survey, and social media data that will help assess how political entrepreneurs strategically mobilize women through religiously conservative messaging, and how women respond to these efforts.

Fellow Responsibilities:Fellows may assist in literature reviews, data coding and wrangling, translations, and some data analysis. Fellows' responsibilities will depend on their level of programming and language expertise, with an opportunity to learn certain technical skills if desired.

Preferred Skills: R, Web Scrapping, Excel / Google Sheets, Language skills in Indonesian or French

Ritika Goel: “Populists: Performance and Perception”

Details: How do populists like Donald Trump in the United States, Narendra Modi in India and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil convince poor voters to re-elect them after a term in office? This project looks at the strategies used by populists, and will include analyzing and coding political communication such as tweets and speeches for such strategies to understand what strategies populists use in different contexts and when do these strategies work with low income voters. Separately, I also want to build a database of populists to understand where such right wing populists from elite parties fit in, and their relationship with institutions, media and business 

Fellow Responsibilities:I am expecting fellows to help code political communication including tweets, news articles and speeches, and help populate the database on global populists. The latter will involve carrying out literature review and might involve consulting other databases such as the Varieties of Democracy database 

Preferred Skills: Excel / Google Sheets

Joseph Greenbaum: “Controlling Circulation in Civil War”

Details: Who governs supply chains? How does capital circulate in civil wars? Why do interventions to transform markets and engineer societies in conflict spaces so often get stuck in the mud? This is a study of supply chain capitalism and neoliberal state building as seen through the politics of checkpoints and chokepoints in South Sudan over the past two centuries. It shows how repertoires of rebel and state rule have been inherited from the colonial period and how these continue to be reproduced in contemporary economic policies. This work shows how corridors of capital can be quite ordered - even within conflict spaces - and how politics along these corridors and modes of governance can resist external transformations.

Fellow Responsibilities:The fellows will help clean and organize historical documents to be deposited into a public archive. No prior training needed, though GIS is a plus.

Preferred Skills: Web Scrapping, ArcGIS, experience with archival data useful, not needed.

Pranav Gupta: “Ideological Diffusion in India: Expansion of Hindu Nationalism”

Details: What explains variation in the expansion of religious and ideological movements? How do ideological movements transmit ideas? This project intends to examine these questions through a comprehensive study of Hindu nationalist movements in India. The project involves the digitization of historical data, primary data collection, and studying archival material.

Fellow Responsibilities:Data analysis, Coding of archival material. 

Preferred Skills: Python, R, Excel / Google Sheets.

Johnathan Guy: “The Politics of Energy Planning in the Global South”

Details: This project investigates what energy infrastructure state elites in the Global South decide to build (or permit) where and why, with an eye towards the implications for climate change mitigation efforts. Work may also involve other related projects on the institutional politics of climate change in developing countries.

Fellow Responsibilities:Collect quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of sources, including online and in-person archives on campus.

Preferred Skills: Excel/Google Sheets, R, web-scraping.

Payal Hathi: “Patterns in stillbirth and its measurement in low- and middle-income countries”

Details: Stillbirth is the loss of a pregnancy at 28 weeks of gestation or later, as defined by the World Health Organization. 84% of these losses occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), putting enormous strain on mothers, families, and societies. Most are preventable, and despite the close links with early neonatal mortality, progress on addressing stillbirth has been slower than improvements in reducing neonatal, child, and maternal mortality. Part of the reason for this lack of attention and slow pace of change is because of poor quality and missing data on stillbirth.This project aims to compile stillbirth data from Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) from Asia, Latin America, and Africa, to (1) assess stillbirth prevalence across places and over time, both in conventional ways and by calculating measures of women's experiences of pregnancy and pregnancy loss; (2) characterize the quality of stillbirth measurement across places and over time by comparing stillbirth estimates with other measures of child mortality; and (3) describe seasonal variation in stillbirth prevalence across places and over time. 

Fellow Responsibilities:Data compilation, data cleaning, data visualization support, literature reviews.

Preferred Skills: R, STATA, Excel / Google Sheets.

Max Kagan: “The politics of corporate sociopolitical activism”

Details: American business has a long history of attempting to influence politics for its own economic ad-vantage.  For most of the twentieth century, however, business shied away from involvement on controversial issues that did not directly relate to profits. In a pluralistic society with diverse views, companies had little to gain and much to lose by speaking out on controversial issues. This longstanding practice appears to be changing. Over the past decade, corporations have spoken out on topics including abortion, capital punishment, climate change, foreign policy, gun control, immigration, LGBT rights, refugee policy, and voting procedures. This research project asks why corporations are increasingly taking stances on controversial social and political issues. Mentors will help me to gather data on corporate responses to sociopolitical issues (e.g., the Supreme Court's recent decision on abortion rights).

Fellow Responsibilities:Data gathering and coding, web scraping.

Preferred Skills: Web Scrapping, Excel / Google Sheets.

Otto Kienitz: “Taxation, Representation, and Historical Democratization”

Details: The relationship between state and democracy can be understood through the empirical link between taxation and representation. However, research on the origins of democracy rarely examines the local institutions tasked with raising taxes or deciding how to spend them. I investigate the impact of different types of revenue sources and fiscal capacity on the democratization of local self-government between 1800-1914. To test cross-national claims, I need to piece together the first cross-national dataset on local taxation and representation from newly digitized archival data from Europe, the Americas, Eurasia, and East Asia. I am looking for 1-2 research fellow(s) with an interest in democratization and political economy to help assemble this cross-national dataset and learn basic-to-advanced research skills, including how to work with historical data (both qualitative and quantitative), build an original dataset from scratch, operationalize, measure, and tidy new variables, and perform basic analyses of time series data on state capacity and democracy outcomes.

Fellow Responsibilities: The research fellow will assist in collecting newly digitized archival data on local taxation and representation, summarizing reforms to local self-government in 19th century autocracies and democracies, and helping the researcher piece together the first cross-national dataset on local taxation and representation. The research fellow will learn and/or improve basic data manipulation skills, including visualization and analysis in Excel / Google Sheets (or R for those with more data science interest/knowledge). A willingness to learn quickly and comfort with Excel / Google Sheets are the only requirements; an interest in history, political economy, and/or historical democratization is recommended; other research skills or goals can be grounds for additional teaching or training. *Language skills are a plus, especially reading Mandarin/Cantonese to work with a subset of the Chinese data, but not strictly required.

Preferred Skills: Excel/Google Sheets, language skills are a plus, especially reading Mandarin/Cantonese to work with a subset of the Chinese data, but not strictly required.

Meiqing Li: “Reimagining Public Space: A Cross-Country Comparison of Placemaking NGOs”

Details: This project aims to examine the new momentum, action, and barriers faced by placemaking NGOs amid the global climate movement, as well as in the post-pandemic period. Particularly, it will compare placemaking activities by civic advocate groups in the US and Asia through analyzing data from social media. By the end of the project, we will create a novel database with annotations for further analysis including Natural Language Processing (NLP) and text analysis. It will be of particular interest to candidates interested in urban planning and design, sustainability policy, and the built environment. 

Fellow Responsibilities: Through this project, the fellows are expected to: 1) conduct literature review to familiarize with the topic; 2) collect online posts and comments relevant to our research questions, potentially using web scrapping; 3) create and maintaining the database readily usable for further analysis. There may be additional tasks or research opportunities available based on the fellow(s)’ interest. 

Preferred Skills: Excel/Google Sheets, Python/R, web-scraping, proficiency in Chinese is desired but not required.

Yue Lin: “Foreign Investment and Social Conflict in Africa”

Details: The pros and cons associated with foreign investment in Africa have triggered heated discussion. The old continent has received new capital, opened up and expanded emerging industries, and even developed renewable energy that could potentially fulfill sustainable economic recovery, thanks to outside investors for decades.  Meanwhile, when local citizens in investment recipient countries fear that their future economic returns will be expropriated, they might seek violent and non-violent tools to express dissatisfaction. Though scholars have long worked to quantify how foreign investment might nor might not fuel social unrest in Africa, the disaggregated impacts of each sector in foreign investment remains obscure. The project thus aims to explore the under-tapped research questions: why do foreign investments in various sectors fuel, or pacify, social conflicts in Africa? How do the impacts vary across different sectoral weights? These questions fill important gaps in the investment and conflict literature. Current studies acknowledge the potential reverse causality and endogeneity between foreign direct investment (FDI) and conflict, but they pay more attention to how conflict impacts investment, rather than the other way round. In the “conflict impacting investment” literature, on the one hand, civil war represents development in reverse. Seminal work in international political economy, development studies, and conflict studies highlight the fact that intrastate conflicts may not sustain globalized, outward-looking economies, as they present a severe obstacle to development in the Global South, given the significance of FDI on boosting GDP and increasing local employment. On the other hand, foreign investment can benefit from civil war even in political instability, regulatory unpredictability, and expropriation risk due to beneficial opportunities facing investors during turbulence. 

Fellow Responsibilities:To investigate the interaction of FDI, conflicts, and other socio-economic phenomenon in Africa,  the fellows are expected to (1) summarize existing IPE/IO/conflict literature in relevant topics; (2) construct a database on investment, aid, and trade pertinent to African countries; and (3) collect government documents, newspaper reports, and media coverage about how IPE events and social conflicts interact in the African context. Duties may vary as projects proceed.

Preferred Skills: R, Web Scrapping, Excel / Google Sheets.

Adan Martinez: “Brazilian Everyday and Subnational Pandemic Politics”

Details: This project focuses on the political motivations for the implementation, or lack thereof, of pandemic-related municipal policies in Brazil. Common explanations in the political science literature suggests that Covid policies were closely link to political parties, polarization, and political alignment. However, these explanations, derived from the political realities of the United States and Europe, fail to consider the weak political party structures of other countries, particularly in Brazil. Moreover, these analyses fall short of considering other political explanations. Using a multi-method approach, I hope to shed light for these explanations and provide a broader theory, which can help us understand disaster and pandemic policies. 

Fellow Responsibilities: 1) compiling COVID transfers to state and municipal entities in Brazil using a government portal and transcribing to an already existing database; 2) looking for alternative political explanations which explain the variation in COVID policies using newspapers, social media, and council meetings for a select group of case studies, 3) text analysis of previously collected government gazettes; 4) if time and associate abilities permit, Portuguese to English translations of interviews with local government officials, local citizens, and professional associations.

Preferred Skills: R, STATA

Vanessa Navarro-Rodriguez: “Fragmented Indigenous Struggle: Contentious Politics and the Mapuche in Chile”

Details: Since the independence of Chile, indigenous people have faced marginalization and various forms of repression. For example, Chile is one of the few Latin American countries that does not recognize indigenous people in its constitution. Since Chile’s independence, factions of the Mapuche (Chile’s largest indigenous groups) have mobilized for better rights and recognition from the Chilean government. However, unlike other Latin American countries, the Mapuche have failed to form a unified mobilization, and they have also failed to form a unified ethnic political party (Yashar 2005 and Van Cott 2005). Currently, Mapuche organizations are divided in their goals and strategies for engagement with the state. Some Mapuche organizations mobilize to gain constitutional recognition from the state and advocate for plurinationality, others mobilize for autonomy, and others mobilize for complete separation from the Chilean government. The fragmentation observed at the organizational level is also apparent within Mapuche individuals. For example, when asked about their national identity, many Mapuche responded that they were Mapuche living under Chilean occupation. In contrast, others responded that they were both Chilean and Mapuche, and others noted that some Mapuche do not identify as Mapuche and only Chilean. The evident fragmentation among the Mapuche leads me to my research question: What does citizenship mean for the Mapuche in Chile? Or, more specifically: What are the preferences of the Mapuche for being part of the Chilean states? And under what conditions are Mapuche activists more likely to utilize (or support) the use of violence to achieve their overarching goals? 

Fellow Responsibilities:Fellows will collect qualitative and quantitative data. They will also be asked to look through administrative data (in Spanish) to determine the possible analyses that can be conducted. Additional responsibilities and tasks depend on available programming and language skills. Any fellow who signs up for this project will be taught additional skills if interested. 

Preferred Skills: Python, R, Web Scrapping, Excel / Google Sheets, Fluent in Spanish.

Prof. Alison Post: “David and Goliath Urbanize: City Size and Public Service Delivery in the Global South:

Details: According to U.N. projections, 86% of global population growth over the next two decades will occur in cities of low- and middle-income countries. Meanwhile, over the last four decades, many low- and middle-income countries decentralized the provision of basic goods and services to municipal governments. An under-explored aspect of the urban transition is differences between small, medium, and large urban centers. The vast majority of social science scholarship on cities focuses on megacities like Mumbai, Shanghai, and Sao Paulo. Yet the vast majority of city-dwellers in low- and middle-income countries live in small and medium-sized urban centers, and the bulk of future population is projected to occur in such settlementsIn this project, we examine the relationship between city size and policy priorities, and the political drivers of these differences in four large, highly-decentralized countries: Argentina, Brazil, India, and Indonesia. 

Fellow Responsibilities: The fellow would assist with the analysis of a fascinating (and underutilized) data source on urban politics:  city council meeting recordings broadcast over facebook and youtube. The exact responsibilities will depend on the skill set and academic background that a fellow could bring to the project.  These recordings are available for Argentina and Brazil.  A Spanish-speaker could assist with the analysis of the recordings from Argentina, and a Portuguese-speaker could assist with the analysis of recordings from Brazil.  A student with computational/statistical skills could assist me with developing and executing an approach to analyzing these recordings in a quasi-automated fashion.   

Preferred Skills: Excel / Google Sheets, web-scraping, Python/R, STATA, ArcGIS, Portuguese or Spanish (Note: not all listed skills are required. Any combination of skills would be fine and the fellow’s role will be adapted depending on whether they have the requested language or technical skills)

Julia Raven: “Making Colonial Militaries”

Details: Colonizers often sought strict control over their colonies and wanted to prevent rebellions that would make them lose that control. However, it is also true that the British, French, and other colonizing powers built militaries in their colonies, which would seemingly make rebellion more likely. This dissertation projects seeks to understand why and how those colonial militaries were built, and what the long-lasting impacts colonizer decisions may have on the contemporary militaries in these post-colonial states. In particular, this project will be looking at the ethnic composition of colonial militaries to see if colonizing powers strategically excluded some ethnic groups from military power and if those exclusionary practices exist in the post-colonial era.

Fellow Responsibilities:My fellow(s) will help me construct a novel dataset of the composition of colonial militaries, using the reports and other documents I have collected from military archives. Using the codebook I have created, my fellow(s) will read through the archival documents and detail the design of the colonial military along lines such as: how many British officers were present in a given year? Was one native ethnic group chosen to fill officer positions over others? If I have more than one fellow, there is also an opportunity to work on a similar, collaborative project identifying the demographic data of military leaders in the post-colonial era.

Preferred Skills: Excel / Google Sheets.

Prof. Andrew Reddie: “The Emergent Properties of Frontier Military Technologies”

Details: This project for the Berkeley Risk and Security Laboratory (BRSL) focuses on understanding how new technologies—from dual-use technologies to those designed specifically for military applications—might impact strategic stability and the prospects for international peace and security. Our current work contributes to the policy debates concerning whether the deployment of low-yield nuclear weapons has stabilizing or destabilizing consequences. We also engage with various emerging technologies, from cyber capabilities to various applications of autonomy in military contexts. Perhaps as important as our substantive findings, we also contribute to nascent efforts in the field to use of wargaming methods to examine nascent national security challenges. Indeed, policy-makers must consider the consequences of research, development, and deployment of new capabilities in the absence of empirical data. As a consequence, there is often no way to adjudicate claims across political and theoretical divides. This is particularly problematic in military contexts where force postures are decided over the course of decades. Methodological frameworks developed by our team at Berkeley have already contributed to policy in the United States—not least in the way in which wargaming is carried out by the defense community.

Fellow Responsibilities: We expect the Fellow to undertake research tasks (literature reviews, data collection, and analysis) in support of the project and, as appropriate, engage with external visitors and speakers taking part in various series.

Preferred Skills: R.

Oren Samet: “Challenging Autocrats at the Ballot Box and Beyond”

Details: How do opposition parties and their allies challenge authoritarian governments and work to counter democratic backsliding? In this context, when and how do parties engage and request support from international actors, and what are the implications of doing so? In order to help answer these questions, this project will compile data on authoritarian elections since the end of the Cold War and the activities of opposition parties both at home and abroad.

Fellow Responsibilities:Fellows will support the collection of data on authoritarian elections worldwide, focusing in particular on the behavior and performance of opposition parties in this settings. This will comprise primarily desk research on specific cases using online sources. Applicants with an interest in democratization, human rights, authoritarianism and/or related topics are encouraged to apply.

Preferred Skills: Excel / Google Sheets.

Surili Sheth: “Gender and front-line workers in India”

Details: This project aims to understand the role and working conditions of frontline workers as community mobilizers in India. The aim of the project is to systematically typologize the different "types" of frontline workers based on the roles they play and the level of discretion/autonomy they have. 

Fellow Responsibilities:The Fellow will be expected to conduct desk-based research to create a framework for, and collate information on key centrally sponsored social protection schemes in India, list out the different frontline workers that implement these schemes; organize and review scheme documents, guidelines, research papers, to collate information on roles & responsibilities as well as service conditions of some prominent frontline workers; systematically document any gender differences in the nature and role played by frontline workers as community mobilizers based on use of key gendered terms; review historical documents to understand the origin and purpose of prominent frontline workers and how their role has evolved. Conduct literature review of labor market conditions of frontline workers in India, in particular, women workers.

Preferred Skills: Excel / Google Sheets, literature review, qualitative coding and/or text analysis softwares a plus.

Alex Stephenson: “Does context matter? Evaluating the external validity of survey experiments in Comparative Politics”

Details: Survey experiments in comparative politics and international relations often use samples of exclusively American citizens to ask questions related to leaders resolve, support for economic policies, and responses to repression. In this project, we probe the external validity of these findings to other countries and contexts. The second part of the project considers how different ways of modeling data affect the conclusions of current work in political science. This project is especially well suited for assistance from fellows interested in learning how to run experiments and new methods. 

Fellow Responsibilities: Fellows will perform literature reviews, translations, research assistance for data analysis. Additional responsibilities and tasks depend on available programming and language skills. Any fellow who signs up for this project will be taught additional skills if interested. 

Preferred Skills: Python, R, foreign language skills in French, Spanish, Portuguese or any combination.

Andrew Wojtanik: “All the Dictator's Men: Elite Cohesion under Autocracy”

Details: No dictator rules alone. Behind every autocratic strongman—no matter how powerful—there are political operators, power brokers, and agents of repression who are essential to autocrats’ survival and often the key players in their demise. Yet existing literature struggles to explain why regime insiders remain loyal in some dictatorships—but fractious and prone to defection in others. As part of a broader project on elite cohesion, I am building an original dataset of “elite biographies”: basic background characteristics of cabinet ministers in African autocracies, including ethnicity, portfolio, age, education, prior occupation, and other variables. My expectation is that elites who share common identities and/or shared past experience with the dictators will be less likely to defect from the regime. I am looking for 2-3 research fellow(s) to assist with the dataset. Although the focus is on Sub-Saharan Africa, the inductive, theoretical insights from the project will help inform our understanding of elite dynamics and regime survival around the world, including Vladimir Putin’s Russia and China under Xi Jinping.

Fellow Responsibilities:Fellows will assist in coding elite biographical data for cabinet ministers (and potentially top military/security officials) in African dictatorships since 1960, a process that will involve sleuthing primary and secondary source material that includes elite memoirs, Google Books, Google Scholar, Lexis-Nexis, the Who’s Who in Africa series, the World Biographical Information System, and other resources. No coding or statistical experience is required, although foreign language familiarity (especially French, Portuguese, or Swahili) is a plus. The project will also begin with some short background readings to set the research in context. Fellows will have the opportunity to active shape research design and the coding protocol, bringing new and fresh ideas to an exciting research agenda.

Preferred Skills: Excel / Google Sheets, Experience with Excel/Google Docs and the Berkeley Library system; strong attention to detail and a knack for “detective work”: sleuthing to find specific information for the dataset; interest in authoritarianism, democratization, elite dynamics, and/or social networks; foreign language (French, Portuguese, or native African languages) is a plus but not required.