CDDRL honors students recognized for outstanding theses


UGH Graduation Headliner3
The 2011 class of CDDRL Undergraduate Honors Students. From left: Yihana von Ritter, Kamil Dada, Lauren Swartz, Kathryn Stoner-Weiss, Ari Weiss, Purun Cheong, Sarah Guerrero

The Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) is pleased to announce that undergraduate senior honors student Yihana von Ritter was awarded The Firestone Medal for Excellence in Undergraduate Research for her outstanding thesis examining HIV/AIDS policy in Papua New Guinea. Von Ritter was presented with the award at a ceremony held on June 11 during commencement weekend at Stanford University.

Von Ritter, a political science major, spent the summer of 2010 on the Papua New Guinea island of Karkar, where she performed extensive field research. She interviewed over 40 government officials, medical personnel, religious and civic leaders, youth, and HIV positive individuals. Her thesis entitled "Between Hope and Despair: An Assessment of HIV/AIDS Policy in Papua New Guinea," underscored the fact that while only 1% of Papua New Guinea's adult population is AIDS-infected, a public health crisis is looming if preventative policies are not swiftly adopted.

According to her thesis co-advisor Professor Emeritus David Abernethy, Von Ritter's thesis received the Firestone Medal­--awarded to the top ten percent of honors theses in social science, science, and engineering--for its remarkable combination of social science analysis and informed policy advocacy.

"Von Ritter provides policy-relevant recommendations in her thesis to enhance interagency communication and encourage active government leadership (in Papua New Guinea)," said Abernethy. Von Ritter also worked closely with Francis Fukuyama, FSI senior fellow and CDDRL faculty member, who provided guidance and support during the thesis writing process.

Purun Cheong and Kamil Dada were both recipients of the CDDRL Undergraduate Honors Program "Best Thesis Award" for their outstanding research and policy-relevant scholarship. Cheong, an international relations major, critically evaluated the failed United Nations state-building efforts in East Timor in his thesis, "When the Blind lead: The United Nations in East Timor-Lessons in State Building."

After spending a summer conducting research in Pakistan, Dada, a political science major, wrote "Understanding International Democracy Assistance: A Case Study of Pakistan," a sobering account of democracy assistance to Pakistan. Cheong and Dada were both advised by CDDRL director Larry Diamond.

CDDRL congratulates the 2011 graduating class of CDDRL Undergraduate Honors Students:

Purun Cheong
International Relations
"When the Blind Lead: The United Nations in East Timor- Lessons in State Building"
Kamil Dada
Political Science
"Understanding International Democracy Assistance: A Case study of Pakistan"
Sarah Guerrero
International Relations
"Automation Nation: Electronic Elections, Electoral Governance and Democratic Consolidation in the Philippines"
Ayesha Lalji
International Relations
"Unleashing the Cheetah Generation: How Mobile Banking Enables Access to Capital for the Poor in Developing Countries"
Lauren Swartz
International Relations
"Agribusiness as a Means of Economic Development: Case Studies of Chile and Mexico"
Ann Thompson
"The Other Side of the Coin: The US Military and Afghan Women in Contemporary Counterinsurgurgency Operations"
Yihana von Ritter
Political Science
"Between Hope and Despair: An Assessment of HIV/AIDS Policy in Papua New Guinea"
Ari Weiss
International Relations
"Israel: Managing Diversity with Democracy"


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