The completion of an honors thesis is the cornerstone of the O’Neill Undergraduate Honors Program experience. Each student, with a faculty advisor, has conducted in-depth research on a topic of interest and relevance to public and environmental affairs. The Symposium celebrates their work resulting in research useful to both practitioners and academic scholarship.
Highlighting our honors students and their honors thesis research
- Associate Dean for Educational Programs R.J. Woodring
9:10-9:25 a.m. - Climate Migrants: Where Do We Go from Here?
- Amani Khoury, O'Neill School, Environmental Science
- Faculty Advisor: Stephen Glaholt
Over the past 50 years, massive amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have been dumped into the atmosphere, resulting in human-induced climate change. Average global temperatures are increasing, and the world is experiencing higher levels of extreme weather events, droughts, flooding, and sea level rise. These factors have caused food and shelter insecurity, the weakening of infrastructure, and the dampening of the health of communities, to the point where many have had to leave their homes. These people, displaced due to the effects of climate change, are referred to as climate migrants. These migrants are similar to traditional refugees who have been forced from their homes, but they also face unique circumstances. Currently, most climate migrants are coming from small island nations, less developed countries with poor infrastructures, and West African countries experiencing drought. In order to help those facing climate migration, adopting a universal term for climate migrants is needed in addition to infrastructure improvements that will allow countries to mitigate the more severe impacts of climate change. It is also essential to address the root cause of this problem, climate change, and begin taking major steps to reduce global emissions.
9:25-9:40 a.m. - Assessing the Impact of the Innovation Grant on Indiana Charter School Performance
- Samantha Bailey, O’Neill School, Law and Public Policy
- Faculty Advisor: Thomas Rabovsky
The presence of charter schools fuels controversy in education policy. Nevertheless, charter schools have expanded across the United States since the early 1990s. Charter school policy varies widely across states, but one common feature that crosses state lines is a funding gap in which charter schools receive less funding per pupil than traditional public schools. In Indiana, the Charter and Innovation Network School Grant Program was implemented in an effort to narrow this funding disparity, though the $750 per pupil allotment does not close the approximately $2,600 gap. Through a fixed effects regression, I test whether this grant program has had an effect on charter school performance within the state using data on school-level performance on statewide standardized testing from 2014-2018. Findings suggest there is no evidence to support the hypothesis that the grant has raised performance on standardized tests in Indiana’s charter schools. However, these findings do not suggest the grant is ineffective or that it should be eliminated.
9:40-9:55 a.m. - Reassessing Significance of Returns to Education in China: Modifying the Mincer Equation
- Richard Liu, Certificate in Applied Research and Inquiry, College of Arts + Sciences, Economics
- Faculty Advisor: Nastassia Krukava
The low level of secondary education attainment rate for China’s labor force can be explained, in part, to the fact that individuals do not value an upper secondary education and choose to enter the labor force early. Previous literature which estimated low or insignificant income returns to upper secondary education in China supports this hypothesis. Using the 2016 China Family Panel dataset, a Mincer equation was conducted to estimate income returns to an upper secondary education, adjusting for nonlinearity and controlling for ability using cognitive test scores. The Mincer model finds that one year of upper secondary education increases hourly income by 7.37%. These results remain robust and significant even after controlling for ability and modelling for only rural or urban individuals in my sample. The results suggest that the low level of upper secondary education attainment in China’s labor force is not because individuals do not value an upper secondary education but rather because individuals struggle to access upper secondary education.
9:55-10:10 a.m.- More Tweets Don’t Necessarily Lead to More Victories: How Candidates’ Tweets Relate to Election Victory in 2020 U.S. House Democratic Primaries
- Abigail Bainbridge, Certificate in Applied Research and Inquiry, Media School, Journalism
- Faculty Advisor: Jason Peifer
This study focuses on the relationship between the average number of tweets a day sent out by a candidate in the six months leading up to their election and whether they win or lose an election. The study examines Twitter as a potential tool low-funding campaigns can use to escape issues which arise in traditional Gatekeeping Theory. A logit regression model looks at the average number of tweets a day, the percent of funding made up by Political Action Committee donations, and incumbency. All data suggest there is not a statistically significant relationship between the average number of tweets a day from a candidate and whether or not they win their election. However, this study could be a strong starting point for further research into the topic.
10:10-10:25 a.m.-Q&A Session
- Amanda Rutherford, Director of Undergraduate Honors Program and Associate Professor