All CDDRL News News April 20, 2021

Introducing Our 2021-22 CDDRL Honors Students

Jose Maria BausJose Maria Baus

Major: Political Science
Minor: Modern Languages: French & Italian
Hometown: Quito, Ecuador
Thesis Advisor: Michael Tomz
Tentative Thesis Title: Political Determinants of Sovereign Debt Default: The Incentives Behind Debtor Oscillation Between Multi and Bilateral Creditors in Latin America

Why is this topic important to the field of democracy, development, and the rule of law?  
The landscape surrounding sovereign debt and debt default has changed fundamentally within the past two decades: while the pervasiveness of the issue has grown massively, resulting in far more sovereign debtors being at risk of default, the relationship between these countries and their creditors has evolved, and now involves new, often counter-hegemonic creditors that seek to expand their ideological and economic influence through the use of novel commodity-collateralized loans. Thus, sovereign debt default provides an important scope not only into understanding the impact that a coming wave of default will have on the development of a large number of countries, but also aids in the understanding of how these loans are manipulated and leveraged by both their creditors and debtors to pursue political objectives.

What attracted you to the CDDRL undergraduate honors program?  
My academic career at Stanford has been characterized by the melding of two initially separate interests: international relations and financial markets. As I have combined these two areas throughout my studies, I have realized that my underlying interest in these subjects is seeking to understand how components of a large system, be these countries or financial instruments, affect and are affected by the system that surrounds them, ultimately influencing economic development. This feedback loop fascinates me, and I see a very similar approach in the work conducted by the CDDRL. The center's work in analyzing the relationship between development and aspects of globalization, and the political, social, legal, and economic dimensions these processes entail, speaks towards the interdisciplinary approach that the center adopts and the method and facets I have sought to develop in my studies. It is because of the center's unique approach that I feel the CDDRL honors program will be a capstone to my undergraduate experience, through an environment that encourages me to combine these two areas and challenges me to refine my expertise in these as well.

What are your summer research plans?  
I will be working from Ecuador with Morgan Stanley's Institutional Equities division. In doing so, I hope to expand my knowledge on market reactions to sovereign debt default. Furthermore, I will be looking to interview individuals in multilateral creditor institutions as well as government officials that were involved in recent defaults so as to better understand the political and economic incentives behind oscillating between creditors.

Future aspirations post-Stanford:  I plan on working on the International Sales desk at Morgan Stanley's Institutional Equities division in New York City upon graduating from Stanford. I hope to work towards a career centered around political economy and international development.

A fun fact about yourself: I am currently working on an artwork project in virtual reality that seeks to illustrate memories of distinct time periods in my life through a 3-dimensional structure composed of objects of pertinence to these epochs.


Carolyn ChunCarolyn Chun 

Major: History
Hometown: Oak Brook, Illinois
Thesis Advisor: Stephen Stedman
Tentative Thesis Title:  Modes of Knowing: Consequences of Methodological Approaches in World Bank Agricultural Policy

Why is this topic important to the field of democracy, development, and the rule of law?  What attracted you to the CDDRL undergraduate honors program? 
Proper policy should ground itself in thorough, contextual, and peer-reviewed research. But methodologies themselves grow and evolve over the years, as do the predominant schools of intellectual thought. Recognizing the impact of this process is critical to more responsible knowledge production.

What attracted you to the CDDRL undergraduate honors program?  
Working with peers from multiple disciplines and diverse academic and personal backgrounds — united by a common interest in the rule of law and the public good — is both an honor and an incredible learning opportunity.

What are your summer research plans? 
I will be continuing online research.

Future aspirations post-Stanford: I would like to pursue social impact work that leverages data to empower individuals and communities to advocate for effective policies and participate in civic discourse.

A fun fact about yourself: I enjoy hiking in U.S. national parks — eleven so far!


Sreya GuhaSreya Guha

Major: Symbolic Systems (concentrating in AI) 
Minor: History
Hometown:  Los Altos Hills, CA
Thesis Advisor: Larry Diamond
Tentative Thesis Title: Exploring the role of Parler in radicalization and extremism

Why is this topic important to the field of democracy, development, and the rule of law?
Extremist and violent content on social media poses an existential threat to the fabric of our democracy. Social media has democratized information dissemination, enabling a single message to reach millions of individuals in an instant. Individualized news feeds contribute to growing polarization, delegitimizing verified sources of news, and threatening fundamental democratic processes.  Yet, not all social media platforms propagate such harmful information in the same way. I am interested in researching the factors that distinguish social media platforms regarding their capacity to facilitate violence and extremism. I want to approach this question through an analysis of Parler -- the conservative social media platform at the center of the January 6th attack on the Capitol. I am interested in understanding why Parler was capable of facilitating such extremism. I believe that Parler’s political homogeneity and lack of content moderation are crucial to answering this question.

What attracted you to the CDDRL undergraduate honors program?
In college and beyond, I am interested in exploring the ways that technology has and continues to impact democracy, particularly through the lens of online platforms. The structure of the CDDRL program affords me the opportunity to interact with professors, mentors and students to develop and deepen my research project in an interdisciplinary setting.

What are your summer research plans?
I am planning to start analysis of my corpus of Parler data. Using computational and natural language processing methods, I hope to begin to glean insights about trends and patterns in virality and language of posts.

Future aspirations post-Stanford: I am interested in further studying the intersection of technology and society either through graduate school or law school.

A fun fact about yourself: I'm born and raised in the Bay Area except for two years when I was young I lived in India.


Alexandra PopkeAlexandra Popke

Major: International Relations
Minor:  Art History, Spanish
Hometown: Euless, TX   
Thesis Advisor:  Kathryn Stoner
Tentative Thesis Title:  On the Road to Authoritarianism: China’s Belt and Road Initiative as an Explanation for Eastern European Democratic Decline

Why is this topic important to the field of democracy, development, and the rule of law?
By understanding democratic decline, particularly amongst liberal democracies, we are better able to address the future threats to stable democracy and the foreign policy implications democratic decline has on international institutions such as NATO, the EU, and UN. Such understanding also enables us to confront breakdowns in democratic programming and the subsequent rise of alternative powers and/or ideologies, as demonstrated by China, throughout historically democratic regions.          

What attracted you to the CDDRL undergraduate honors program?   
The profound knowledge provided by the resources, faculty, and students involved in the CDDRL Honors Program underscores my participation in the program. In addition to being able to research topics of personal interest, namely democratic development and decline, the CDDRL Honors Program will provide an opportunity to hone my research skills in anticipation of future graduate studies and connect with fellow students and academic leaders similarly interested in such topics.

What are your summer research plans?
I will be working full-time for much of the Summer, but I hope to complete my literature review before returning to Stanford in the Fall.

Future aspirations post-Stanford:  I plan to obtain a JD/MBA with the intent of working at the intersection of business and law in the private sector.

A fun fact about yourself:  I studied under a portrait artist in high school and competed nationally with my art!


Maggie RoacheMaggie Roache

Major: Political Science
Minor: Human Rights  
Hometown:  Westchester, IL
Thesis Advisor:  David Cohen
Tentative Thesis Title:   Controversy in the Classroom:  An Analysis of Spanish Secondary School Education on the Civil War, Franco Dictatorship, and the Democratic Transition

Why is this topic important to the field of democracy, development, and the rule of law?    
History education, which serves as a vehicle for establishing collective memory and national identity, is undoubtedly a critical tool of democracy and political development. That being said, history education can pose a serious challenge to democracies when it comes to the question of how to handle particularly shameful periods of a country’s history. Controversial periods of a country’s history can be seen as a threat or as a critical component of the national curriculum. This issue is a matter of active debate in Spain, but also has relevance far beyond Spain. Many countries across the world, including the United States, continue to grapple with the question of how and when to teach young generations about violent, shameful periods of the country’s history. It is a question which remains unresolved, and which merits further research. 

What attracted you to the CDDRL undergraduate honors program?
I was drawn by the interdisciplinary nature of the CDDRL undergraduate honors program. I am incredibly excited to get to know the other members of my cohort and to benefit from their expertise and insights from a range of fields.

What are your summer research plans?  
In the summer, I plan to conduct an online survey of Spanish secondary school teachers (after receiving IRB approval). The survey will serve to ascertain more information about the Spanish history curriculum with regards to their recent controversial past: the Civil War, Franco dictatorship, and their transition to democracy. Teachers from multiple Spanish cities, in different regions of the country, will be surveyed.

Future aspirations post-Stanford:   After Stanford, I hope to attend law school and focus on international human rights law.

A fun fact about yourself:  When I was in high school I wrote a letter to the creator of Hamilton, Lin Manuel Miranda, and he wrote me back.


Jose SabauJose Sabau

Major: Political Science   
Minor: Economics
Hometown:  Cozumel, Mexico
Thesis Advisor:  James Fearon
Tentative Thesis Title:   Making Friends with the Enemy: A Study of Cooperation Between Drug Cartels and Local Politicians in Mexico

Why is this topic important to the field of democracy, development, and the rule of law?    
For most of its independent history, Mexico has struggled to live up to the core ideals of democracy. For over 70 years, a single party ruled over the country using clientelism and rigged elections to remain in power. It was not until 2000 when the opposition National Action Party managed to win the presidency for the first time in history and brought Mexico to a new era of democratic development. But while the previous institutional impediments are long gone, a new problem has grown to the nation’s democratic structures. Criminal organizations focused on the distribution of narcotics have grown into powerful actors in the country and have infiltrated most levels of political power. Mexican drug cartels have learned how to use the nation's bureaucracy to their own advantage, at times cooperating with local officials and at others directly threatening politicians. Even though Mexico now fulfills the broadest definition of a liberal democracy, the rise of drug cartels signifies a large threat to stability. If criminal organizations control local offices, it does not matter whether elections are held on a periodic manner, democracy will ultimately fail. 

What attracted you to the CDDRL undergraduate honors program?
There were two main reasons that brought me to the CDDRL honors program. On the one hand, democracy has become a fundamental issue in my life as a Mexican citizen. Having been born in February 2000, my entire life has occurred in the aftermath of 70 years of single party rule. But our newly gained democracy has been threatened by the rise of populist politicians and the growing power of criminal organizations. As I made my way across Stanford, I knew I wanted to explore current threats to Mexico’s democracy and the CDDRL honors program offered the perfect opportunity to do so. On the other hand, I really wanted to find a group of like-minded peers who seek to better understand the importance of democracy and any potential threats in its future. Again, this was a core element of the CDDRL honors program and influenced my decision to apply.

What are your summer research plans?  
This summer I hope to advance my research in three ways. First, reading relevant literature on the interactions of drug cartels and Mexican politicians. Second, gathering data on different metrics that could be used to identify cooperation between drug cartels and public figures through Mexico's equivalent to the Freedom of Information Act. And third, explore local news coverage over the last decades that suggests any form of corruption related to drug cartels on the local level.

Future aspirations post-Stanford:   After Stanford, I hope to pursue a PhD in political science focusing on Latin American politics and Economic development. My dream is to return to my home country of Mexico and help create a better future for all my fellow citizens. I am unsure whether this would be through academia, journalism, or public office, but I am excited to see what the future holds. Above all, I hope to follow the footsteps of academics and reporters who have devoted their lives to improving conditions in Latin America.

A fun fact about yourself:  I am obsessed with the Nobel Prize in Literature. I can name half of the people who have won the award at the top of my head and in my free time I always read as many laureates as I can (currently at 40 out of 117).


Adrian ScheiblerAdrian Scheibler

Major: International Relations / Coterm Public Policy   
Minor: Economics
Hometown:  Augst, Switzerland
Thesis Advisor: Christophe Crombez 
Tentative Thesis Title:   Separatism in Western Europe: Ideologies and the European Union

Why is this topic important to the field of democracy, development, and the rule of law?    
Understanding how separatist movements are shaped and the methods used in pursuit of their objectives is directly connected to issues of democracy and the rule of law. The demands for political autonomy are oftentimes connected to economic motivations, accusations of historical injustices, and claims to identity and heritage.

What attracted you to the CDDRL undergraduate honors program?
I am motivated to write an honors thesis by the desire to conclude my studies with a capstone project, and this program provides the resources to allow me to succeed in this endeavor.

What are your summer research plans?  
I will be doing an internship unrelated to the thesis project but hope to complete the literature review and find relevant databases.

Future aspirations post-Stanford:   Continue with studies either in law or political science / economics.

A fun fact about yourself:  I spent the coronavirus lockdown in Belgium.


Michal SkretaMichal Skreta

Major: Economics and Political Science   
Hometown:  Warsaw, Poland
Thesis Advisor: Larry Diamond
Tentative Thesis Title: The Emergent Role of Cross-Border Philanthropy in Financing International Development  

Why is this topic important to the field of democracy, development, and the rule of law?
This topic lies at the very intersection of democracy, development, and the rule of law. From the perspective of democracy, it tackles the question of the ability to reflect societal preferences by public and private actors when devising development interventions; it also addresses the questions of governance and oversight behind philanthropic activity. The development perspective is key here, as the topic centers on whether private or public actors are better suited to engineer economic development solutions in the developing world. Finally, from the perspective of the rule of law, the topic ponders the question of investors’ accountability, as well as the incentivizing power of national governments to attract outside investment by maintaining adequate domestic standards of the rule of law.

What attracted you to the CDDRL undergraduate honors program?
The combination of an interdisciplinary academic focus, an opportunity for in-depth research, and a vibrant and intellectual FSI community. To me, the CDDRL Honors is a truly unique program in which students work with exceptional faculty on research projects with direct relevance for policymaking. I firmly believe that the program exemplifies the best of what the Stanford undergraduate education has to offer.

What are your summer research plans?
Given the lingering pandemic-related restrictions, I intend to focus on desk-based research, quantitative data collection, and on conducting interviews with relevant stakeholders. In addition, I plan to further explore some computational and econometric tools that could be useful for my analysis.

Future aspirations post-Stanford: I hope to ultimately pursue a career at the intersection of private and public sectors with a strong international focus as well as to continue my interdisciplinary education in graduate school.

A fun fact about yourself: I once got lost on a volcano in Guatemala.


Ravichandra TadigadapaRavichandra Tadigadapa

Major: Economics and International Relations
Minor: History
Hometown: Mumbai, India  
Thesis Advisor: Thomas Blom Hansen
Tentative Thesis Title:  The Three Revolutions: Democratic Institutions and the Nationalist Project in the Indian Constitution 

Why is this topic important to the field of democracy, development, and the rule of law?    
India has seen significant democratic backsliding in recent years, and the centralization of power in the Union Government, along with the relatively weak restraints on it, have been crucial to enabling this slide. This thesis seeks to establish the reasons why the Indian Constitution imposes such weak restraints on state overreach. It investigates the political, social, and economic philosophy of India’s leading nationalists – who also played important roles in drafting the Constitution - and seeks to find the rationale for the Constitutional structure in their visions for postcolonial India. In doing so, the thesis hopes to evaluate India’s contemporary democratic backsliding in the full context of its historical origins, and therefore inform attempts to safeguard Indian democracy.

What attracted you to the CDDRL undergraduate honors program?
CDDRL very much encapsulates my academic interests, so it felt like a natural fit. I think I will really appreciate this opportunity to find community with like-minded peers, and to learn from the world’s foremost scholars in these fields. The interdisciplinary nature of the CDDRL Program was also encouraging because my thesis project also draws upon expertise and methodologies from multiple disciplines.

What are your summer research plans?  
They are unclear as of now and are evolving with the pandemic. If circumstances permit, I would like to do some primary research at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in New Delhi, India.

Future aspirations post-Stanford:   I find myself thinking a lot about how the private sector can play a more important role in facilitating sustainable growth, so that is an area I would be interested in exploring.

A fun fact about yourself:  I never learnt how to bike, so I have found myself navigating Stanford on foot for the last three years.


Avalon WolfeAvalon Wolfe

Major: Political Science
Minor: Computer Science; Ethics and Technology 
Hometown: Fort Worth, TX
Thesis Advisor: Francis Fukuyama
Tentative Thesis Title: Examining Why Countries With Little Histories of Privacy Enact Data Privacy Laws    

Why is this topic important to the field of democracy, development, and the rule of law?
Amidst a decade marked by data breaches and concerns about the amount of data that companies collect on consumers, there has been an unmistakable rise in the number of data privacy laws enacted across the world. Interestingly, many countries that have data privacy laws in place also have little histories with privacy, whether it be a cultural conception of privacy or privacy as a legal right. My thesis centers on analyzing why countries that historically have not had a concept for privacy have adopted data privacy regulations. This research question has the opportunity to shed light on data privacy policies in countries that are often left out of the literature, as much of the research on data privacy has been on Western nations with a history of privacy.    

What attracted you to the CDDRL undergraduate honors program?
The CDDRL program excites me because of its emphasis on mentorship from professors and on collaboration with students from various disciplines. I look forward to the opportunity to receive feedback from a variety of perspectives while also learning about the research interests of others in the cohort.

What are your summer research plans?  
I'm interning at Carnegie Europe, where I plan to research EU tech policy. I hope to further explore data privacy in my work at Carnegie and in my free time.

Future aspirations post-Stanford:   I'm not sure precisely what I want to do after college, but I hope to work at the intersection of technology and law/policy.

A fun fact about yourself:  I'm a vegetarian from Texas (and my hometown is actually referred to as Cowtown)