“Past the obvious benefits gained from research such as discipline, refinement of researching and writing skills, and a general increase in knowledge over broad and specific topics, research has indelibly changed who I am as a person.”
Dr. Sheldon Ekland-Olson, Sociology
Briefly describe your project.
Wars have persisted since the beginnings of human society, but in the 20th century certain wars have escalated with the intent of exterminating entire groups and populations. Instances include the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge, Iraq and the Kurds, and most recently in Rwanda and Srebrenica. I focus on the latter two and ask why some civil wars and ethnic conflicts escalate while others do not.
How did you become involved in research?
I took a class during the spring semester of my freshman year that dealt with ethical dilemmas. A major theme in the course was genocide. This initially sparked my interest in the topic, but it was only during the spring semester of my sophomore year whenever I took an upper division honors seminar concerning the same topic with the same professor. After completing an intensive research project, I knew that I wanted to write a thesis concerning genocide. To this end, I applied for the Humanities Honors Program because it best suited my academic ambitions and interests. That same professor is now my thesis advisor. I took the class during my first year almost as an after thought, mostly because it had a cool title, and it proved to be the most important class I could have ever taken.
What was the most rewarding part of your research experience?
During the summer of 2010, I worked with a non-profit, non-governmental organization called Global Youth Connect in Bosnia-Herzegovina. They specialize in reconciliation and social justice projects in post-conflict society with an emphasis on transitional justice and human rights. Though the academic side of research is rewarding intellectually and academically, it was only during my time spent in Bosnia-Herzegovina that I began to truly emphathize with those who have experienced trauma due to conflict. With GYC, we spent a substantial amount of time working with youth from various ethnic groups, which proved emotionally draining yet timelessly rewarding.
What surprised you during the research process?
The research process is extremely demanding. Going into it, I assumed that a thesis would be similar to writing a very large research paper. This is true, but only to a very superficia