Undergraduate Honors Theses


Attitudes Concerning Immigration in Post-Communist Europe
The current rise in nationalist sentiments and emphasis on developing immigration policies around the world led to the question of how have attitudes towards immigration and non-native people affected the differences in economic growth across post-communist countries in the Central and Eastern Europe regions? Using survey data from two waves of the World Value Survey as well as quantitative control data and proxy variables, this study contradicts expectations based on current literature in that it shows how negative attitudes towards others are correlated with higher growth. Such results demonstrate what could be a recurring phenomenon for countries in transition. However, the possibilities of inaccurate survey responses and data limitations due to survey inconsistencies must be kept in mind. The following research is not an all-encompassing answer to the aforementioned question. Instead, it illustrates a divergence from current literature and demonstrates a need for continuous investigation into how personal values are affecting nations as a whole.
Lessons Learned? What New Hampshire can Learn from Vermont in “Hub and Spoke” Model of Opioid Treatment
Vermont had 13.9 overdose deaths per 100,000 people in 2014, almost 2.5 times less than New Hampshire in the same year (Rudd 2016). Much of this has been attributed to the framework Vermont has in place for treatment of Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), specifically the “Hub and Spoke” model of treatment. This model has been highly praised due to the continuity of care waivered spoke physicians are able to provide, and the overall success the program has had in reducing overdoses and addiction as a whole, typically through the “gold standard” of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). “The Doorway” as the hub and spoke system is called in New Hampshire, is realistically a referral framework that links people seeking treatment with OUD to a provider, which is very different from the structure in Vermont. Vermont is predicted to spend about $85 million of Medicaid money on treatment for people with OUD in 2019 (Table 1). Meanwhile, New Hampshire, a state with over double the population, is projected to spend $52 million in 2019 (Table 2). This is likely due to differences in Medicaid payment structure and MAT-waivered physician availability; Vermont has a larger rate of MAT providers per 10000 population of 2.71 compared to 2.05 in New Hampshire. New Hampshire Medicaid reimburses behavioral health providers poorly, providing an indexed reimbursement rate of 0.83 in comparison to 1.11 in Vermont (Kaiser Family Foundation 2019). To initiate change and create a treatment utilization rate equivalent to Vermont, it is estimated New Hampshire would have to spend $133 million to $150 million in 2019, which is not possible given the taxation structure in place.
"Do You Comb Your Hair?”
This study contributes to the growing literature on the effectiveness of diversity and inclusion efforts in organizations. Previous studies focus on D&I efforts for full-time staff and employees. This qualitative and intersectional study examined first-generation black students in corporatized organizations that are predominantly white through interviews where they could share their experiences with organizational structures and cultures to determine the impact that it has on the performance and identity of black interns. This study assessed organizational cultures of three kinds: exclusive, transitional, and inclusive. Using these organizational cultures, the study determined the way that racism and whiteness culture affects the intern experience. The participants had various relationships with recruitment strategies, diversity discussions, navigating professional and personal networking, negotiating working identity and imposter syndrome, stereotype threat, microaggressions, and professional development. Overall, organizations are engaging in practices that alienate and suppress black student interns while encouraging assimilation. In inclusive organizations, black interns feel like they can be their authentic selves and progress more successfully because of the acceptance of their identity and their ability to share their experiences with that identity.
"No Human Being is Illegal"
Immigration policy has undoubtedly taken a forefront spot in the national dialogue in our contemporary political moment. However, there is considerable disagreement among and within political parties about how to address this issue. This paper seeks to better understand the priorities of immigrant rights activists in the U.S. by executing case studies on 11 immigrant rights organizations. I explore which framing strategies each group uses to push for its goals and theorize about how these social movement organizations (SMOs) arrive at the strategic frames that they do. Through discourse analysis and coding of interviews, websites, and other media sources, I conclude that the most relevant factors in determining what frame a group arrives at are its external resource environment and how professionalized the organization is. There is additional evidence to suggest that the political opportunity structure, salience of a previously successful ‘master frame,’ and the age of leaders also affect framing processes. Finally, my data does not suggest that being immigrant-led versus led by non-immigrant ‘allies’ directly affects an SMOs’ framing strategies, but it does affect the external resource environment from which it is able to draw.
"What's the Alternative?"
American discrimination law is a paradox: it attempts to eradicate discrimination – an inherently systemic problem impacting the most marginalized groups – using bureaucratic procedures. As a result, public servants tasked with investigating violations of discrimination law must pursue the fulfillment of such a sweeping goal through incremental means, adhering to laws that define discrimination narrowly. There is an extensive literature arguing that this misalignment between the law’s driving goals and its methods of enforcement renders it ineffective; there is also considerable research on the public servant’s unique position in this sense. Applying these literatures together to twelve discrimination investigators at three state-level commissions, it seems investigators are aware of the law’s limitations, but are able to close the gap between the bureaucratic nature of their work and its driving goals by rationalizing these limitations, allowing them to remain idealistic about the efficacy of the law.
Are Flat Public Transportation Fares Regressive?
Public transportation is found across almost all major cities and differ widely in structure. Notably, transportation agencies adopt different fare structures to suit the idiosyncratic needs of cities. In the United States, the two most common fare structures are: distance based fares, and flat fares. This study evaluates the fairness of these two structures through the lens of consumer surplus and how it varies across different levels of poverty under each structure. Using ridership and demographic data from Washington D.C.'s "Metro" network, price elasticities of demand across demographic groups are determined and then applied to estimate the results of a hypothetical switch in fare structure. The resulting changes in consumer surplus are then compared between stations with different levels of poverty to determine whether one structure is more regressive than the other. The results of this analysis suggest that flexible fares such as distance based fares are more equitable as they charge higher prices for high-income individuals, who are also more price inelastic.
Assessing the relationship between resting autonomic nervous system functioning, social anxiety, and emotional autobiographical memory retrieval
Individuals with social anxiety disorder (SAD) tend to have emotional memory biases in the encoding and retrieval of social memories. Research has shown reduced heart rate variability (HRV) in clinical populations suffering from anxiety, including social anxiety. Heightened sympathetic activation—as measured by the electrodermal activity (EDA)—has also been associated with anxiety disorders. The aim of the present study was to examine the relation between HRV, social anxiety, and re-experiencing of emotional autobiographical memories. 44 healthy young adults were recruited from the Boston College campus through SONA. Participants were given an online survey that instructed them to retrieve 40 specific events from the past in response to 40 socially relevant cues. For each event, participants were instructed to provide a brief narrative, make several ratings for the event (on a scale from 1-7), and indicate the specific emotions they experienced both at the time of retrieval and of the event. Approximately one month after the completion of the memory survey, participants engaged in a 2-hour memory retrieval session while undergoing psychophysiological monitoring (heart rate, skin conductance, and respiration). Following the retrieval task, participants completed self-report questionnaires of social anxiety symptom severity and trait emotion regulation strategy (i.e., tendency to reappraise or suppress emotions). The present study found that positive memories had higher re-experiencing ratings as compared to negative memories. Contrary to the original study hypothesis, however, there was no significant interaction between average re-experiencing (or arousal) ratings of positive or negative social autobiographical memories and SAD likelihood. A nonlinear, cubic relationship was found between one of three metrics of HRV and social anxiety symptom severity. A significant effect was found between skin conductance and SAD likelihood, which was likely driven by an almost significance difference in skin conductance between the SAD unlikely and the SAD very probable groups; these findings provide further insight into the relationship between autonomic nervous system (ANS) functioning and social anxiety. Further, the present results suggest the intriguing possibility that there may be a nonlinear relationship between HRV and severity of social anxiety. Future research with a larger sample size is needed to corroborate these findings.
Beyond the Moral Argument
The use of chemical agents in attacks in Syria, England, and Malaysia in the past several years have raised questions about the efficacy of international efforts, specifically the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), to prohibit the use of chemical weapons. These attacks highlight that even after the CWC’s entry into force, there is still more progress to be made towards the complete elimination of chemical weapons. Understanding the factors that influence a state’s decision to comply or not comply with the CWC is essential for moving forward with future disarmament efforts. Using case studies, this thesis examines issues of compliance and noncompliance regarding states’ chemical weapons programs and their ability to implement and enforce the CWC on a national level. The resulting analysis indicates that domestic and external pressures have a strong influence on states that comply with the CWC. The availability of resources, the presence of threats to security, and domestic norms are the most influential factors among states that do not comply with the CWC.
Boston Birth Workers
This ethnographic study follows Greater Boston birth workers to understand the following questions: 1) What do area birth workers see as the problems within the maternity care system? 2) What role does knowledge, i.e. medical vs. alternative knowledge, play in their work? 3) What is their reason for doing this work? 4) How do they go about their work? In analyzing my ethnographic data, I used theory on discourse, power and knowledge (Foucault 1973; 1971; 1978; 1980), childbirth and authoritative knowledge (Davis-Floyd & Sargent 1997), the commodification of healthcare (Rylko-Bauer & Farmer 2002), and social movement theory, including work on communities of practice (Wenger 1998), reflexive consumption and citizen publicizers (DuPuis 2000) and consciousness-raising (Hooks 2000). Through this I find that Greater Boston birth workers find fault with the singularity of medical discourse surrounding birth and with the fact that the commodification of healthcare has resulted in lower quality care for marginalized populations, primarily people of color and low socioeconomic status (SES) individuals. Furthermore, Greater Boston birth workers aim to advocate for their clients through the unique discourse about birth which their community has formed. By employing narratives counter to medicalized birth and sharing alternative, experiential knowledge, birth workers allow women to be conscious of the ways the medical maternity system does them a disservice.


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