2014-15 Honors Students and Their Projects
Mr. Puckett's Honors Thesis addresses the following question: Was the administration of Hugo Chavez good or bad for Venezuela? Hugo Chavez was the president of Venezuela from 1999 to 2013. Chavez was a self-described Marxist who implemented numerous social reform policies including the nationalization of important Venezuelan industries, and increased government funding for education and health care. On the foreign policy front, Chavez openly and repeatedly defied the United States, calling George W. Bush "the devil," and calling for increased international opposition to American initiatives. On the one hand, in some quarters Chavez is viewed as a hero who helped Venezuela's poor and dispossessed, and whose policies led to considerable economic growth. On the other hand, many observers view Chavez as a dictator who ran roughshod over civil liberties and civil rights, and who ushered in a period of rampant crime and corruption. Which view of Chavez is correct? This is the question Mr. Puckett addresses in this thesis.
Ms. Jakubek's Honors Thesis addresses the following question: Why does France's same-sex marriage law exempt some residents from protection? France is considered one of the most socially liberal countries in the world. Nonetheless, when the French government debated the legalization of gay marriage in 2013, the country was roiled with angry protests, threats of violence, and general restlessness. In the end, France legalized same-sex marriage, in a move befitting a country with a long history of social liberalism. However, in an interesting twist, it became clear shortly after same-sex marriage was legalized that some residents of France were not covered by the law. Specifically, due to agreements between France and 11 other countries—mostly former Yugoslav republics—nationals from these countries are exempt from the 2013 gay marriage law. What accounts for the strange fact that French law protects the right to marry for some residents but not others? This is question Ms. Jakubek addresses in this thesis.
Mr. Black addresses the following question in his Honors Thesis: Why are African-American men disproportionately represented in the American justice system? Disproportionately large numbers of African-American men are arrested, jailed, and paroled in the United States. Why is this the case? Scholars and observers on the left side of the political spectrum often blame institutional racism. Scholars and observers on the right side of the political spectrum often blame cultural pathologies in the Black community. In this thesis, Mr. Black presents the prevailing explanations for high Black incarceration rates and seeks to determine which are most persuasive.
André S. Greppin
Mr. Greppin's Honors Thesis addresses the following question: What accounts for the unprecedented success conservatives have had in American politics since the 1980s? Since the early 1980s, conservatives have been markedly successful in American politics, while liberals have been losing ground. In this thesis, Mr. Greppin argues that conservatives have enjoyed three decades of political success partially because they have been much better than liberals at using value-based arguments (which are easier to make than policy-based arguments, and which are intuitively appealing to voters), and at framing issues to their advantage.
Ms. Nuñez addresses the following question in her Honors Thesis: How will the growing Hispanic demographic in the United States shape elections in America in the next 20 years? Hispanics are a growing force in American elections. Hispanics already comprise a sizable portion of the electorate in many states including California, Florida, and Texas, and increasingly they are becoming an electoral force in other states as well. How will growing numbers of Hispanics shape the American electoral landscape in the next two decades? This is the question Ms. Nuñez will address here, paying special attention to the voting behavior of Hispanics, and political rifts within the Hispanic population.
Ms. Skaggs addresses the following question in her Honors Thesis: Is the U.S. Department of State's Empowering Women and Girls through Sports Initiative effective? The U.S. Department of State sponsors a program called "The Empowering Women and Girls through Sports Initiative," which is designed to increase the number of women and girls involved in sports in countries around the world. The ultimate goal of the program is to empower women to be more active in their communities in non-sports roles. Ms. Skaggs has worked with and for the program during her time at UT, and her thesis will evaluate the program for its effectiveness.