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Summer 2024 Funded Projects


DELTA ISA: Bridging International Relations with the Mid-South and Mississippi Delta​

Leah Windsor and Dursun Peksen

DELTA ISA is a proposal to host a conference at The University of Memphis in partnership with the International Studies Association in Winter 2024/2025 for historically excluded institutions of higher education in the Mississippi Delta (MS, AR, TN, KY, MO). The project will bring faculty and students from regional programs in Political Science, Public Policy, and International Relations to the UofM for a 1.5 day conference to discuss pedagogy and research related to International Relations in Winter 2024/2025.


Civic Engagement and Education through Analysis of Conflict and Trauma​

Dursun Peksen and Beverly Tsacoyianis ​

Civic Engagement and Education through Analysis of Conflict and Trauma Project Description: (Culture, Perception, and Education theme) This summer funding will help the political scientist Dursun Peksen and historian Beverly Tsacoyianis to formulate an interdisciplinary summer seminar for underserved college students (mainly at community colleges and other schools within a 400-mile radius of Memphis) to engage in seminars on foreign policy, diplomacy, conflict studies, and disability and trauma studies. We will focus for now on overseas conflicts (like Gaza, Ukraine) but will allow students to pick their own conflict, as long as it is an ongoing war or a war that ended in the past 10 years. Students will analyze US and other govt roles in the conflict, including military and humanitarian aid, and how this has impacted both combatants and noncombatants in the region.


Role of Public Health Diplomacy in the 21st century ​

Ashish Joshi, Xinhua Yu, Marian Levy, Beverly A Tsacoyianis, Diana Ruggiero, and Gretchen Peterson​

The world has become more interconnected and health issues such as pandemics, antimicrobial resistance, and the impact of climate change on health threatens the global population as a whole. Health Diplomacy utilizes health-related issues to build relationships, foster cooperation, and promote peace and stability between nations. It brings together a variety of stakeholders for a coordinated response in areas that affect public health all around the globe. Health diplomacy focuses on promoting health equity by addressing social determinants of health, promoting for fair and equitable access to healthcare resources.


U.S. Human Rights Diplomacy in Socialist Latin America​

Michael Pérez, Jasper Fessmann, Marissa Morgan, and Elena Delavega​

This project examines the role of human rights in shaping U.S. diplomatic efforts in Latin America. Specifically, it considers the extent to which human rights issues have contributed to U.S. diplomacy in Latin America and what impact they have had in terms of U.S. policies. The primary area of focus for this research project will be U.S. diplomatic policies vis-à-vis socialist governments including Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, and Chile. The project will proceed by comparing and analyzing the different approaches to, and justifications for, U.S. diplomatic efforts within the Trump and Biden administrations and their efficacy in achieving U.S. national interests. In this project, human rights will be broadly defined to include issues of civil and political rights, state violence, health, and the environment.


Fighting ‘the good’ framing battle: Counter-framing against disinformation to defend liberal-democratic values ​

Jasper Fessmann and Kim Marks Malone​

In recent years it has been striking how media frames employed by demagogues in the traditional and social media crossed the Atlantic. Disseminated in one country they were quickly picked up in different countries to be used by other demagogues in often very different contexts & cultures to spread disinformation. The goal of this project is to catalogue and analyze those cross-national frames, as well as identify the most effective counter-frames to mitigate their effects in Western liberal-democracies. The project would entail various media content analyses of key frames identified and test experimentally possible counter-frames. A special focus is given to transatlantic cooperation between the USA and Europe (Especially Germany) in this to tab into EU/German Funding sources as well as USA. There is quite a lot of funding available on the EU site that we hope to tab in with German partners.


Conceptualizing Democracy: An international comparison of curricular perceptions. ​

Dustin Hornbeck and Charisse Gulosino​

In an era of noted democratic decline, in this conceptual study, we aim explore how the concept of democracy is addressed in school curricula and understood by social studies teachers in both the United States and Japan, with an interest in including other countries. We chose Japan because it is also a democratic country that teaches the social sciences through the lens of social studies. However, Japan is in a different hemisphere and does not belong to the predominant Western tradition prevalent in the United States and Europe. We aim to analyze curricular standards and eventually interview teachers.


Modeling Cultural Understanding Diplomatic Negotiations through Emotion Perception and Expression

Nicholas Simon, Miriam van Mersbergen, J. Elliott Casal, and Leah Windsor

The success of diplomatic negotiations can hinge on careful perceptions of subtle emotional cues and shifts in alignment among participants in bilateral or multilateral settings, like the United Nations. Prevailing wisdom says that affective expression of emotions is universal; however, recent research is demonstrating that this may not be the case. Misunderstanding affective cues can lead to sub-optimal outcomes when those engaged in diplomacy use their own frame of reference to understand others' behavior. We seek to explore how affect is expressed and perceived across languages and cultures in the United Nations, using an survey experimental design of facial expressions. We will analyze participants' responses evoked by observing /assessing facial expressions. This will serve as a critical step toward understanding the sociological and cultural mechanisms underlying identity-based divergences in emotional recognition.