Preface to the Proceedings of the University of North Texas Department of Political Science 2012 National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates

Program Description

Given the growing frequency of civil conflicts in the world, and the security concerns these conflicts engender for the United States in the 21st century, the development of human capital that is equipped to deal with these challenges is critical for the national security of the country. The Department of Political Science at the University of North Texas (UNT) initiated a unique program to provide 10 undergraduate students (recruited from across the country) the opportunity to engage in graduate-level research in conflict management and peace studies, in a senior faculty-mentored, in-residence, eight-week, Summer Research Experience (SRE) that integrates training in civil conflict management with training in propositional calculus and computer simulation skills. Participants used propositional calculus and simulations to develop theoretical propositions that will be tested empirically. Participants collected and analyzed empirical data and will report their findings in a national professional political science conference. Activities included workshops on computer simulations, research methodology, and the graduate school application process. There were also activities designed to build a sense of research community among students, faculty and graduate student mentors.

The political science department at UNT is ideally positioned to offer such a program. With 27 full time faculty members, home to the Vivian Castleberry Peace Institute, and the only degree granting program in peace science in the Southwestern United States, and with some of the most noteworthy scholars in the field of international and civil conflict (as well as having faculty with substantial experience in managing undergraduate research programs) the UNT Department of Political Science is very well equipped to offer an REU on conflict management and peace science.

The Papers

The collection of papers in this issue of The Eagle Feather is distinguished by the quality, and the sophistication of the empirical analyses.

Jena Daggett of Trinity University examines the effect that women’s inclusion in the public sphere (as in political inclusion and the provision of a political voice) has on reconciliation in post-civil conflict countries. Using a unique survey of post-conflict individuals, she finds that women are more likely to reconcile with the other side of the conflict when they are included in the public sphere.

Daniel Gustafson of SUNY Albany, investigates the underlying preconditions for state-ethnopolitical organization negotiation. He argues that negotiation between warring parties in a civil conflict is most likely to occur when organizations operate at the extremes of violence, either very low or very high levels, rather than mid-ranges of violence.

Kara Haberstock of the University of Arizona argues that the nature of the state plays a significant role in determining the likelihood of conflict recurrence within post-conflict states. The personalization or institutionalization of state power influences the strength of the state apparatus and its ability to address challenges to its authority and avoid conditions of multiple sovereignty that can lead to renewed civil conflict.

Ryan Madden of SUNY Binghamton examines the role that an independent judiciary serves in the post-conflict environment. He argues that an independent judiciary is endowed with the security-assuring attributes that the previous literature claims to be necessary for political institutions to have in order to facilitate peace in post-conflict societies.

Angela Manglaris of the University of North Texas examines the effects that changes in weather patterns have on human population and conflict. This study argues that the occurrence of an environmental disaster will induce intrastate migration among those who reside in the affected area. Environmentally-induced migration in turn will lead to the presence of low-level civil conflict within the state as large numbers of migrants rapidly enter a host community and alter resource availability, economic conditions, and cultural composition.

Katherine Reinhardt of the University of Central Florida explores the impact of repatriation of refugees on peace durability. She argues that large scale repatriation has a positive impact on the period of peace experienced in post-conflict societies. Her analysis demonstrates that not only is repatriation a significant aspect of establishing an initial peace, but it is also an integral part of sustaining that peace after major civil conflicts

Byron Stoner of Texas A&M Corpus Christi explores the impact of electronic communication on social protest movements and how individuals petition for redress of grievances against the government. He expects that an increase in access to the internet will be associated with an increase in the likelihood of protest. The analysis reveals the existence of a positive and significant relationship between the number of internet users and the likelihood of the onset of protest.

Benjamin Tjaden of the College of Idaho examines the relationship between ethnic conflict and the ability of the state to distribute goods. He argues that when an ethnic group can influence state stability through protest, rebellion, or changes in voting behavior, access to state resources should be assured. When groups are denied economic opportunity, conflict may result. He finds that greater levels of economic discrimination increase the likelihood of ethnic violence onset, but decrease the likelihood of conflict onset more generally.

Roman Torres of the University of Central Florida tests the effectiveness of a military approach versus an approach of social and judicial reform to fight drug cartels in drug producing countries. His results suggest that the most effective measures against drug cartels, and in reducing casualty rates, are those based on targeting the funding mechanism of criminal organizations rather than military action targeting the cartels, as has been the case in Mexico.

Nia Yarborough of Prairie View A&M University investigates the relations between corporate ethics and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) on the onset of intrastate conflict. Using multivariate analysis, she finds that Corporate Ethics, Per Capita FDI andEconomic Capacity are significant factors in contributing to conflict onset.

In sum, the following papers represent some of the best in undergraduate scholarship in political science and peace science. It is with great pride that we present to you these pieces in this special section of The Eagle Feather.