Countless GLOA students receive accolades at graduation, but there is only one way to graduate with honors in global affairs: by successfully completing a rigorous, research-intensive sequence of courses designed to use interdisciplinary methods to take on contemporary global issues. Over two semesters, and working closely with a faculty mentor, honors students have not only produced significant written research, but they have created close relationships with fellow honors students. Moreover, by presenting their innovative thoughts and ideas to the Mason community (and far beyond) in research symposia and conferences, they have effectively extended their networks of collaborators to the public.
Thirteen students who graduated in 2015 received their degrees with honors in global affairs, the most the program has seen to date. Under the mentorship of Professor J.P. Singh, GLOA honors students have done exciting research on an array of topics ranging from human- and narco-trafficking, to microfinance, to transitional justice and human rights. Honors students are closely mentored by the global affairs faculty and encouraged to present their work at public events and conferences.
In April this year, honor students represented the global affairs program and Mason as they shared their research at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research at Eastern Washington University in Washington state. Naila Rafique presented her work on the relationship between women’s mobilization and religious edicts in either prescribing or proscribing gender roles in a patriarchal society, including case studies in Turkey, Afghanistan, and Iran. Naila says of her experience, “It is nice to work with someone that has so much passion and enthusiasm for the world of scholarship.” She also sees value in the opportunity to meet and work closely with friends and classmates that are working towards becoming scholars of their fields.
Leslie Auceda presented her research on the relation between acceptance of undocumented migrants and humanitarian refugees, and looked specifically into the migration of children from Central America to the United States that took place from the end of May 2014 throughout the summer. Leslie describes the honors in the major program as challenging, but recognizes that it has encouraged her to become more passionate and motivated, helping her to anticipate and counter criticism from those who do not share her points of view.
Karen Ponce-Corral, whose research interests are primarily focused on human rights with an emphasis on women’s and children's rights, also participated in the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. She expressed that the honors seminar, “has been truly enlightening and beneficial.”
The honor students are using these courses to refine skills for their academics and future professions, where writing and attention to detail are vital. What's more, GLOA honors coursework and experiences have helped students identify graduate school interests, clarify career goals, and add credentials to their resumes.