Senior Seminar Research Projects

Senior Projects: 2017 


Claiming the Correct Credit

Alex Johnson  

This is an examination into the types of distributive spending claims made by members of the House of Representatives. It compares percentages of contingent liability claims and pork barrel spending claims based on the political makeup of the House. Looking at party as the driving force, the intention is to better understand the way each party makes claims as well as how each party is effected by the vulnerable seats.


Assessing Attitudes: How perception influences consumption   

Emma-Quin Smith     

Access to food in impoverished urban neighborhoods is a critical problem in many communities in the United States. This study focuses on factors that contribute to the consumption of fresh foods by people living in poverty and their attitudes about accessibility of such foods.  An interrupted time series study will occur focusing on data from before and after the implementation of the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI). Data will be collected through self-reported surveys conducted in communities implicated in HFFI and ask questions regarding rates of consumption of fresh foods, attitudes regarding availability of fresh foods, and acquisition of fresh foods. Cross-tabulations, measures of central tendency, and bivariate regression analysis will be run on the data. This study has the potential to guide local-level policymakers in making decisions regarding access to food in impoverished neighborhoods and further efforts working towards the eradication of food deserts.


What Explains the Difference in Girls’ Access to Education in Middle Eastern Countries?

Gabrielle Blevins

This research looks at the literature on the education of girls in Middle Eastern countries. It will look at the culture and religion, the amount of foreign aid, and the level of democracy in different countries in an attempt to explain why the access to education varies for girls and boys. Each of these variables has an affect on girls’ access to educational programs, but the literature suggest that the level of democracy in a nation is the most influential factor. More democratic nations are more likely to support educational programs for girls. This research can be beneficial for governments and organizations that promote educational programs because the literature has also suggested that increasing the level of education for girls in underdeveloped nations can benefit the nation in many ways.


Measuring the undefinable: An analysis of sustainable indices and their application to Springfield, Missouri

 Lexi Brewer

While there have been a variety of methods developed to measure sustainability at the national level, little research has been done on ways to measure the effectiveness of local sustainable policies. Cities are increasingly becoming the center for sustainability concerns as it is projected that nearly 70 percent of the global population will live in cities by 2050. In this research project, I evaluate 8 leading sustainability indices for their similarities and differences. Over the winter break, I will apply one modified index to a case study, Springfield Missouri, a moderate sized city of approximately 160,000 residents that represents a U.S. city that contains both rural and urban elements. The application of the index will illustrate the ease in which the index can be used at the local level. If the index can be successfully implemented, it can then be used as base to be modified and applied to nearly any U.S. city to analyze the progress of the local efforts towards a sustainable society.


The Death Penalty: America’s Stalemate

Matt Hardman

Though most of the developed world has abolished its practice, America continues to support and administer the death penalty. Recent polls by Gallup show that support for the death penalty has dropped in the past decade, yet most states have not abolished its practice. This research will review states that currently practice the death penalty and identify common elements found among them that may influence continued support.


The Effects of Institutional Misconceptions and Demographics on the Implementation of Multicultural Education

 Megan Ortmeyer

The question that this paper aims to answer is what leads to the disparity in effective implementation of multicultural education programs in the United States’ public schools?  This question is crucial due to the positive effects multicultural education programs have on students, such as, decreased discrimination and increased tolerance in schools.  Only by understanding where there are roadblocks to implementation can the issues be addressed that prevents implementation.  This paper examines three schools of thought that could explain why multicultural education programs are or are not implemented.  The first school of thought is based on an institutional approach, the second school of thought is focused on teacher education and training programs, and the third school of thought is based on demographics.  The third school of thought based on demographics is chosen as the best explanation because it is argued that the other two schools of thought can be influenced by demographics.  Since the third school of thought is chosen, the question that will be tested in order to answer the broader question is as follows: Is the presence of multicultural education programs dependent on whether the school is located in an urban area, a suburban area, a town, or a rural area?  School districts from the state of Missouri are used to explore answers to this question.  The hypothesis to the question is the following:  As the level of urbanization increases, the prevalence of multicultural education programs increases. 


Legitimizing Rape: How Rape Myth Acceptance Justifies the Dominate/Subordinate Social Hierarchy

 Sheri Walsh

Rape myths are false beliefs that delegitimize a victim’s claim to sexual trauma. Rape Myth Acceptance (RMA) is a cultural phenomenon that occurs when an individual mistakes rape myths for facts. This research will specifically focus on the importance of RMA as it relates to social behaviors, the construction of ideologies, and the implications of using ideologies as a tool to predict RMA attitudes on the individual level.  Ultimately, this research expects to find that RMA is a social phenomenon that is largely influenced by exposure to rape-supportive beliefs within the broader category of social norms and acts as an agent of oppression in order to justify the current systems in place that legitimize the male- dominant/ female-subordinate social hierarchy.


First-Time Senate Success: The Significance of Endorsements in Elections

Tanner Kirksey

Do endorsements alter election results? This paper examines the effect of endorsements on the electoral success of first-time senatorial candidates. Specifically, this paper addresses the relationship between the number of endorsements a candidate receives and electoral success margins.


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