CDDRL honors student recognized for outstanding thesis

The Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law congratulates Belinda Tang for being awarded the David M. Kennedy Honors Thesis Prize for her original research on the implementation of female quota systems in electoral districts in Lesotho. Her honors thesis entitled, "Gender, Policy-making, and Politics: Evidence from a Randomized Policy Experiment in Lesotho," explored mandated quotas for female representation in electoral districts, combining intensive fieldwork and sophisticated econometric analysis. Tang’s research was conducted under the consultation of Jeremy Weinstein, FSI senior fellow, and Pascaline Dupas, associate professor of economics.

Belinda Tang won the David M. Kennedy Prize for her thesis work on female quota systems in local governments in Lesotho.
Photo Credit: Alice Kada

Designed to address the issue of under-representation of women in local electoral districts in Lesotho - female quota systems- Tang concluded, actually decreased female favorability compared to those females who were freely elected into local seats. Tang also found that females experienced bargaining disadvantages compared to males in achieving local infrastructure projects, such as roads.

Four undergraduate Stanford students are awarded the Kennedy Prize each year for their outstanding honors theses in the humanities, social sciences, engineering and the applied sciences. Tang was recognized for her advanced and extensive research approach as well as her strong initiative in gathering and collecting data, despite several setbacks in Lesotho. After graduating this June in the department of economics, she will be working as a research associate at the National Bureau for Economic Research.

Tang is part of a cohort of eight graduating CDDRL senior honors students who were recognized for their original and outstanding theses during a recent luncheon. Many past research projects have been published in distinguished journals and have informed policy on national and international levels, receiving wide recognition. Danna Seligman received the “Best Thesis Award” for her exemplary and original research on America’s political polarization entitled, “The Origins of Political Gridlock in the United States: Modeling Institutional Gridlock as Moral Hazard in the United States Congress.”

CDDRL recognized Danna Seligman with the "Best Thesis Award" under the CDDRL Senior Honors Program for her original work on the origins of policial gridlock in the United States Congress. She is seen here with Francis Fukuyama, advisor to the Senior Honors Program, and CDDRL Director Larry Diamond.
Photo Credit: Alice Kada

The CDDRL Undergraduate Senior Honors Program trains students from any academic department at Stanford to prepare them to write a policy-relevant research thesis with global impact on a subject touching on democracy, development, and the rule of law. Honors students participate in research methods workshops, attend honors college in Washington, D.C., connect to the CDDRL research community, and write their thesis in close consultation with a faculty advisor to graduate with a certificate of honors in democracy, development, and the rule of law. The program is advised under the leadership of Olivier Nomellini Senior Fellow Francis Fukuyama.

Over the course of the year-long program, students worked in consultation with CDDRL affiliated faculty members and attended honors research workshops to develop their thesis project. Many traveled abroad to collect data, conduct interviews, and to spend time in the country they were researching. Collectively, their topics documented some of the most pressing issues impacting democracy today in sub-Saharan Africa, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Pakistan, Lesotho, Ghana, and Nepal, among others.  

A list of the 2014 graduating class of CDDRL Undergraduate Honors students, their theses advisors, and a link to their theses can be found here:


Meaghan Conway


Science, Technology & Society

Blended Return on Investment (ROI)?: Analyzing the Economic and Social Returns of Private Equity Investment in sub-Saharan African Electricity Utilities

Advisors: Francis Fukuyama and William Meehan III

Mahilini Kailaiyangirichelvam


International Relations

The Prolonged Threat to Food Production: The Impact of the Civil War on Food Production in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka 

Advisor: Rosamond Naylor

Haiy Le


International Relations

Framing the Discourse: State Media and Social Media in Vietnam

Advisor: Larry Diamond

Devanshi Patel


International Relations

Education or Prosecution: Institutional Efforts to Combat Sexual Violence in the United States Military

Advisor: Francis Fukuyama

Janani Ramachandran


International Relations

Determinants of Anti-Americanism in Pakistan

Advisor: Francis Fukuyama

Danna Seligman


Political Science

The Origins of Political Gridlock in the United States: Modeling Institutional Gridlock as Moral Hazard in the United States Congress

Advisors: Gary Cox and Francis Fukuyama

Belinda Tang



Gender, Policy-making, and Politics: Evidence from a Randomized Policy Experiment in Lesotho 

Advisors: Pascaline Dupas and Jeremy Weinstein

Aditya Todi


International Relations

Democratizing Parties: Intra-Party Democracy in Political Parties in Ghana and Nepal

Advisor: Larry Diamond