CUREJ – College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

Our Commitment to Research

The University of Pennsylvania was founded on the principle of uncompromising scholarship and its practical application. True to this tradition, the University has long been recognized as one of the nation's leading research institutions. Penn's College of Arts and Sciences is proud to be among the first to formally support and encourage its undergraduate students to participate in meaningful research with faculty mentors. The College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal presents a sampling of that research and celebrates the academic achievements of our young scholars.




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Now showing 1 - 10 of 254
  • Publication
    Keeping Score in the 2010 World Cup: How Do Sports Mega-Events Compete with Pro-Poor Development?
    (2010-01-01) Riegel, Jessica; Riegel, Jessica
    This thesis uses the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, which was framed as a catalyst for economic growth and broader development, to consider the relationship between global sporting events and pro-poor priorities. The study is driven by three main questions. To what extent did the World Cup deliver on its expectations; are event-driven strategies compatible with pro-poor needs; and why, given a priori doubts about the effectiveness of mega-events as development instruments, do political elites and publics embrace them? I find the event piqued international interest and improved perceptions, potentially boosting tourism and foreign investment, but its other impacts were negligible and came at the expense of more critical needs and the marginalized communities it aimed to uplift. The priorities of FIFA and mega-events’ assumptions about economic growth suggest mega-events are incompatible with pro-poor principles. Yet regardless of significant tolls, financial and otherwise, mega-events are embraced based on factors other than the public good, influenced by dynamics of decision-making, perceptions of personal benefit, and symbolic appeal.
  • Publication
    Soviet/Russian Military Capabilities: Assessing Tech, Manpower, & Loyalty
    (2016-04-27) Shmulevich, Karin; Shmulevich, Karin
    Since the Imperialist times of Peter the Great, Russia’s military ideology has been largely predicated on the goal of creating a large and powerful army. In an attempt to gain territory and prestige, a nation’s military strength was often reduced to a mere game of numbers in order to overpower the opposing side. Of course, weapons and tactics were also involved, but they meant nothing without the men who were needed to utilize them and perform accordingly. Overtime, as new threats began to emerge and a different international dynamic began to form with improved technological systems and weaponry, large conventional armies became significantly less effective. For a long time, however, Soviet Russia was unyielding to change. A Peter the Great mentality rang supreme in the minds of military elites who fostered a strong opposition to any means of reform despite repeated attempts by Soviet and Russian leaders. This force against change resonated in the attitudes and loyalty towards the Soviet and Russian military establishment, and further set Russia back in terms of its outdated technology and overall decreasing military capacity. Although some may say that Russia was a bit late in the game to display noticeable trends in military improvements, this study seeks to answer the question of where Russia lies now in terms of its military capabilities and citizens’ attitudes towards the military itself and their duty to serve. In other words, this study tests the question of how an improvement in military technology, coupled with a more streamlined personnel base, reflects a change in Russia’s military capabilities and in associated attitudes overtime. Background on the history and progress of military reform in Russia is provided and analyzed in light on capability measurements, followed by an evaluation of the 2008 Russo-Georgia War. Additionally, a case comparison of the 1979 Afghanistan crisis and the current intervention in Syria is conducted to demonstrate a change in capabilities and attitudes towards the military establishment. Finally, an analysis of loyalty towards military duty from a psychological perspective is preformed and further coupled with a discussion of how a shift in attitudes has occurred in parallel with military reform in both Soviet and present day Russia. The assessment of loyalty further adds to the analysis of military capabilities due to the connection between increased loyalty and compliance on the one hand, and enhanced military capabilities on the other. The study ends with implications associated with the findings.
  • Publication
    A Tale of Two Movements: Consumer Protection in the U.S. from 1969 to 2010
    (2013-05-02) Berger, Diya; Berger, Diya
    The passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 and subsequent establishment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau marked an unexpected victory for consumers across America at the expense of the well-financed business lobby. Although classical social scientists, such as Mancur Olson, claim that consumer movements should fail to emerge due to the difficulty of providing public goods for large constituencies, consumer victories – like the passage of Dodd-Frank— have occurred in waves throughout the last century. In conducting this study, I thus sought to answer why it is that some consumer movements are able to push through consumer legislation while others fail. In order to answer this question, I conducted two cases studies, comparing Ralph Nader’s failed attempt to establish a Consumer Protection Agency in the 1970s with Elizabeth Warren’s successful push to create Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2010. Ultimately my research demonstrates that three variables are critical to the passage of consumer legislation: 1) the opening of a policy window via key events, 2) the existence of favorable structural conditions in the policy making process, and 3) the ability of political entrepreneurs to utilize successful legislative and framing strategies that help them advance their agenda within the broader environmental context. Based upon these determinants, I suggest that a policy window has been opened for the consumer movement following the 2008 financial crisis due to an ideological shift from Friedman to Keynes which primed the current environment, the support of a Progressive Democratic President, and strong public support for consumer protection.
  • Publication
    In Defense of Sovereignty: An Analysis of Russian Voting Behavior in the United Nations Security Council (1995-2012)
    (2013-04-01) Mund, Brian Zachary; Mund, Brian Zachary
    This paper explores the motivations for Russian voting behavior in the United Nations Security Council from 1995-2012. Specifically, why does Russia vote with the West in many situations, but not in others? What motivated Russia to veto three Western-backed resolutions in the ongoing Syrian conflict? These are not arbitrary votes—Russia invests considerable energy in both explaining and justifying its voting decisions in the Security Council. Thus, even if one believes that Security Council resolutions do not significantly affect state behavior (a claim that international relations research increasingly disputes), such voting decisions still matter because Russia deems them important. I contend that Russia’s concern for 1) international stability and 2) state sovereignty norms drives Russia’s voting patterns in the Security Council. The evidence for the subsequent analysis comes from 1095 Security Council resolutions and vetoed draft resolutions as well as their accompanying United Nations press releases. Both the statistical analysis and the qualitative case analyses found that a consistently conservative interpretation of Security Council jurisdiction and the promotion of state sovereignty norms influenced Russian voting. I also find that Russia views the entirety of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) making up the former Soviet Union as part of Russia’s sovereign sphere. I test these hypotheses against hypotheses predicting an expansion-motivated Russia and a status-seeking Russia, but neither alternative viewpoint receives the same empirical support that a defensive Russia receives. Finally, the findings in this paper have a number of implications. First, the paper finds that Russia has internalized a strict legalist approach to Security Council affairs. Therefore, the Western diplomatic approach for compromise should not focus on Russian interests, but should rather engage Russia through the compatibility of legal principles. Second, the paper emphasizes the lack of normative consensus and highlights the importance of further codification of legitimate international legal behavior.
  • Publication
    The Role of Feminine Rhetoric in Male Presidential Discourse: Achieving Speech Purpose
    (2009-05-01) Larner, Lindsay R.; Larner, Lindsay R.
    Scholars have defined two gender-associated language styles as rhetorical tools that are used by men and women to achieve certain objectives. Masculine language is commanding and instrumental; it is considered conducive to politics. Feminine language is intimate and unifying; it is considered too passive for politics. However, women introduced feminine rhetoric into politics in the United States in 1920 when they were granted the right to participate. But since then, has feminine-style rhetoric played any role in men politicians’ discourse? Specifically, do they use more feminine speech to establish unity and maintain relationships? By comparison, do they use less of it when displaying superiority? To answer these questions, I analyzed two Presidential speeches genres: Inaugural Addresses, which unify the citizenry and foster speaker-audience collaboration – goals feminine language accomplishes -, and Nomination Acceptance Speeches, which display the speaker as leader, expert, and agent – goals masculine language accomplishes. I hypothesize that feminine rhetoric is useful for achieving the Inaugural’s speech purposes, so male politicians should use more feminine speech in Inaugurals than Acceptances.
  • Publication
    Engineering an Ethnic Mosaic: The Institutionalization of Civic Nationalism in Kosovo, Israel, and the West Bank
    (2020-02-01) Dewar, Jordan L; Dewar, Jordan L
    A perfect storm of ethnic-based violence is on the horizon, spurred on by increasing diversity, climate change, and the inability of many societies to handle these trends. This thesis examines the ways through which elites are incentivized to build institutions promoting a specific type of identity and how institutional structures use different means to promote the desired identity. It also addresses the ways through which state-based identity can be adapted to be inclusive while remaining salient. This will be done both through examinations of existing theory surrounding state structure and identity as well as two case studies where identity is a key factor. The first case study being development of identity in Kosovo, which embarked on an institutionally-based process of forming a civic-national identity after its independence in 2008. The case of Kosovo demonstrates how states with a recent history of ethnic conflict can institutionalize civic-national identities and in doing so, reduce the incidence of ethnic violence. The second case is that of Israel and the West Bank where an examination of how the ethnonational identities of the region were formed and the potential outcomes should a one-state solution be implemented demonstrate how different incentives lead to the construction of various institutional regimes. It concludes by using the two case studies to demonstrate how the institutionalization of civic- national identities can decrease the occurrence of ethnic conflict and how examining state institutions can give an overview of the politically salient identities within a state’s borders.
  • Publication
    Genetically Modified Organisms and Southern African Food Policy
    (2013-04-01) Leahey, Andrew J; Leahey, Andrew J
    This paper examines why it is that Zambia and Zimbabwe, two states with similar background conditions and initial positions, arrived at differing policy decisions with regards to genetically modified organisms (GMO). The two neighboring Southern African states are economically dependent on their agricultural sector, share a common colonial legacy, rely heavily on maize as a subsistence crop and have struggled with issues of food security. Their decisions were shaped by their post-colonial legacy and differing conceptions of modernity. In the years following independence, Zambia sought to subsidize their agricultural sector through inputs and credit. Zimbabwe instead focused on land reform and reapportionment, and in so doing hampered their agricultural sector enough to necessitate GMO acceptance. An understanding of the motivations for rejection of GMO in Southern Africa has implications for future food relief programs within Africa and elsewhere.
  • Publication
    "A Tempestuous Voyage at Sea and a Fatiguing One by Land": Ulsterwomen in Philadelphia, 1783-1812
    (2014-03-20) Riblet, Sarah V; Riblet, Sarah V
    This thesis examines the lives of women who came from the north of Ireland, the area traditionally known as Ulster, and settled in the city of Philadelphia between the end of the American Revolution and the beginning of the War of 1812, when economic strife and political rebellion within Ireland impelled many to emigrate. In so doing, this work aims to augment the historical record on a group of people and a period of time that have received relatively little attention, as most scholars have heretofore focused on the experiences of male Irish immigrants during either the period of North American colonization or Ireland’s Great Famine of the 1840s and 1850s. The research methods utilized include quantitative analysis of data from late-1700s and early-1800s transatlantic passenger lists, newspapers and the intake records of various benevolent societies in Philadelphia. In addition, several case studies based on readings of primary sources, such as letters and journals from the period, are incorporated throughout. The findings of this research undermine the historical notion that the United States was a land of prosperity; many of the women studied put their financial security and even their lives at risk, leaving familiar people and places to engage in a dangerous transatlantic passage and arrive in a city lacking opportunities for women. Thus, the chances they took in leaving Ulster were not often rewarded with comfort, stability, or even subsistence, in Philadelphia.
  • Publication
    Return of the Bear? The Extent of Russian Revisionism as Applied to Oil and Gas Machinations
    (2009-05-01) Steinberg, Julie; Steinberg, Julie
    The 2009 Russo-Ukrainian gas skirmish was the most recent example of Gazprom’s oil and natural gas disputes with its neighbors. Over the past several years, Russia has been accused of using Gazprom to further its “neo-imperalist” and “expansionist” foreign policy goals by cutting off energy supply to nations that seem to be orienting toward the West. Careful examination of Gazprom’s actions toward Lithuania, Azerbaijan and Belarus, however, indicate the elimination of foreign subsidies and the normalization of gas prices for all. This trajectory reflects Gazprom’s approach toward deliberations: profits, not politics, dictate how disputes are resolved. This paper argues that ultimately, Russia acts out of economic necessity, not political retribution.
  • Publication
    Explaining the Empty Booth: An Experiment in Candidate Traits and their Predictive Power on Youth Voter Turnout
    (2017-01-01) Elliot, Sophia; Elliot, Sophia
    This paper is motivated by the overall trend of decreasing youth voter turnout since the 1960s in the U.S, which has been accompanied by large fluctuations in turnout between election cycles. By contrast, older age groups vote at higher rates with less variation in turnout between elections over time. This paper aims to identify some independent variables that affect youth voter turnout rate and its’ fluctuation over time. Using American National Election Survey data, a correlation is observed between certain candidate character traits and youth voter turnout. This study focuses on a candidate’s morality and intelligence by studying these traits’ independent effect on youth voter turnout over time. By conducting two online experiments with 295 participants aged 18-24, this study found that subjects who received a cue about a candidate’s morality were more likely to vote and participate in an election than if they did not receive that cue. Among 18-24 year olds, a perceived positive intelligence cue resulted in a higher commitment to vote and participate as opposed to receiving no cue. The unintelligent cue had no intended treatment effect. Furthermore, the study found that the observed increase in a commitment to participate for both studies was stronger for low cost forms of participation, such as voting than high cost forms of participation, such as canvassing. Finally, among 18-24 year olds, race and age act as moderating variables on the effect that candidate morality has on voting behavior. Age, but not race, acts as a moderating variable on the effect that candidate intelligence has on voting behavior. This study contributes to the field by identifying variables that might be predictive of youths’ voting behavior in future elections. Additionally, this study adds to the body of motivating factors for voter turnout theory more broadly.