Senior Project Abstracts – Class of 2017

Projects in French

Bauer, Bethany

Foreign Aid in Haiti

This senior paper aims to investigate current theories surrounding foreign aid distribution through the lens of the island nation of Haiti.  Applying some parts of these theories to the coffee industry in Haiti, I examine how foreign aid has affected the country of Haiti, and whether or not current theories can successfully explain the country’s development.  In the French language chapter, I examine the perception of foreign aid practices and native views on non-governmental aid agencies in Haiti through the examination of Haitian newspaper.  I looked specifically at the Haitian newspaper, Haiti en Marche, a publication based in Port-au-Prince.  The focus is upon the cholera epidemic in Haiti and the U. N. fallout after the disease was linked to camps of U. N. peacekeeping soldiers.

Majors: Economics, French

Project Advisors: T. Nonnenmacher (Economics), B. Lewis (French)

LeBlanc, Catherine C.     

Le Physique et le Moral dans Les Liaisons Dangereuses  

Dans Les Liaisons Dangereuses, un roman épistolaire du 18e siècle, trois femmes deviennent malades après des expériences libertines.  Madame de Merteuil, qui semble être vertueuse devant sa société tandis que les lecteurs savent qu’elle vit selon les principes libertins, développe la petite vérole et son visage est défiguré.  La Présidente Tourvel, dévote et amoureuse de son mari, tombe amoureuse à cause de la manipulation du Vicomte de Valmont et devient malade après une rupture avec lui.  Elle meurt de cette maladie.  Cécile est si innocente qu’elle ne comprend pas que ce qu’elle fait; sa maladie est dangereuse mais assez brève: elle fait une fausse couche.  Par contre, Valmont (un libertin) meurt d’une façon violente et masculine: dans un duel.  Donc, la maladie semble être féminine dans ce livre.  Les raisons peuvent être trouvées dans la médecine de l’époque, et ces raison donnent du sens à la narration.

Major: French

Project Advisors: B. Lewis, P. Wolfe

Rzodkiewicz, Lacey D.    

Anatoxin-a Fails to Show Allelopathic Activity in the Presence of Cyanobacteria or Green Algae   

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are often the result of cyanobacteria producing dangerous toxins that contaminate the water. One such toxin, anatoxin-a, acts upon mammalian nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, resulting in symptoms such as gastro-enteritis, seizures, or even death. The evolutionary reason for anatoxin-a production may be 1) a byproduct of metabolism, 2) a defense against herbivory, or 3) an allelopathic agent. No such metabolic pathways have been found, and little evidence points towards a defense to herbivory beyond the mammalian effects. With mammals not being the primary consumers, this leaves allelopathy as the most likely option. This study investigated this third option through exposing cyanobacteria (Anabaena flos aquae, Microcystis aeruginosa, and Oscillatoria agardhii) and green algae (Pediastrum duplex, Scenedesmus quadricauda, and Staurastrum paradoxum) to varying concentrations of anatoxin-a from low environmental levels to those denoted as too dangerous for human contact. Despite anticipated enhancement of cyanobacterial growth and suppression of green algal growth, no growth rates were found to have a significant enhancement or suppression by the toxin (p<0.05). Results did not give clear support for the use of anatoxin-a as an allelopathic agent of cyanobacteria.

Majors: Biology, French

Project Advisors: T. Humphrey (Biology), P. Wolfe (French)

Thirkill, Leah M.

An Examination of the Correlational Relationships Between Social Contexts, Motivations, and Foreign Language Learning Proficiency      

In a world where the global economy and international relations are very much at the forefront of the national media, societal perception of foreign languages has become a very important topic of consideration to language educators.  The goal in this two-part study, conducted at a small liberal arts college in northwestern Pennsylvania, was to explore factors that influence language learning.  For the first experiment the beliefs of Kouritzin, Piquemal, and Renaud (2009) that language learning norms are influenced by cultural contexts, were taken into consideration.  To investigate this theory, the Social Norms in Foreign Language Learning (SNIFLL) survey was used to gather data on influential social themes and a self-reported foreign language proficiency scale was created based on the standards used by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).  The five osical themes of SNIFLL were correlated with the four ACTFL proficiencies:  reading, writing, speaking and listening.  Results showed positive correlations between the SNIFLL social theme of Personal Experience and all areas of proficiency.  The second part of this project was a series of interviews with English-French bilingual students.  Inspired by questions from the SNIFLL, the interviews’ aims were to record the experiences, attitudes and beliefs of individuals who have successfully learned two languages.  It was found that participants believed personal experiences within certain geographical and social contexts to be very influential factors in their language stories.  After analyzing the results from both studies the underlying conclusion highlights that personal experiences are of the utmost importance when considering language learning.

Majors: Psychology , French

Project Advisors: P. Rutledge (Psychology), B. Lewis (French)

Ziolkowski, Benjamin D.

Determinants of Tourism in France & Economic and Social Effects of Terrorism   

The goal of this research is to identify economic and social impacts of the terror attacks in France during 2015 and 2016. Three large scale attacks in Paris and Nice within two years shocked the nation, with consequences felt both domestically and throughout the world. Specifically, the research aims to identify economic effects of terrorism on France’s tourism industry, as well as the determinants of tourism and travel. The research will also analyze the response of the French public, government, and media outlets to the attacks, along with the reactions of neighboring countries who have also witnessed terror attacks within their respective borders. By studying both the economic and social effects of terrorism within France, the true cost of terror attacks will be identified and discussed.

Majors: Economics, French

Project Advisors: J. Sickafuse (Economics), B. Lewis (French)

Projects in German

D’Ercole, Katarina

Political Perceptions: How Germany Perceives Russian Aggression

Within the past 50 years, the international community, especially Europe has witnessed increasing Russian aggression.  This project aims to explain Russian aggression and its underlying motives from the German perspective.  Using qualitative methods of analysis, this work establishes three schools of thought which categorize German scholarly opinions, and operate on three different levels of analysis.  In order to explain each school, three corresponding models are developed, that generate implications for Germany, Europe and the United States of America.

Majors: International Studies, German

Project Advisors: H. Tamashiro (Political Science), P. Ensberg (German), K. Pinnow (History)

Projects in Spanish

Pasackow, Ezra F.

A Critique of President Rafael Correa’s Protection of Indigenous People and the Environment in Ecuador

In 2008, the Ecuadorean National Assembly established a new constitution under the guidance of President Rafael Correa. The Quechuan phrase sumak kasway (Buen Vivir in Spanish) is incorporated throughout the constitution and grants nature the same legal rights as citizens. Sections in the Buen Vivir clauses also allow for further protection of indigenous groups, including those living in complete isolation in the Ecuadorean Amazon. The aim of this thesis is to examine the legal actions taken by President Correa to protect the environment and the indigenous people, and his actions later in his precedency that disregarded such laws. The language used in Buen Vivir and the actions taken by the government following the implementation of the new Constitution demonstrate an egregious failure of environmental and indigenous rights. This failure culminated when a governmental agency destroyed and tampered with a national referendum opposing the cancelation of the Yasuní ITT Initiative. The initiative, an extension of Buen Vivir, would have prohibited drilling oil in Parque Nacional Yasuní, a mega diverse area that is imperative for combating climate change and expanding global scientific knowledge. In protest of the cancelation, a social and political movement group called the Yasunidos developed throughout the country with a common cause: stopping the government’s extractivist agenda. Physical and psychological attacks spearheaded by President Correa against the Yasunidos created a political atmosphere that deterred democratic discourse. Once a proud voice for the struggling and forgotten citizens of Ecuador, President Correa neglected his initial intentions that could have successfully alleviated the pressures of climate change as well as made him a pioneer for environmental law and the protection of indigenous people. By comparing legal documents and public actions by the president, this thesis demonstrates the contradictory policies of his presidency.

Majors: Environmental Studies, Spanish

Project Advisors: B. Choate (Environmental Studies), T. Herrera (Spanish)