Senior Project Abstracts – Class of 2016

Projects in French

Verbal Behavior acquired via Free Learning Module: Analyzing Individual History Differences of Language in Learning Basic French Verbal Behavior using Duolingo
Brianna Fowler
Major(s): Psychology/French
Project Advisor: Dr. Rodney Clark/Phillip Wolfe
Participants’ histories of language were examined in learning the Basic French 1 skill on the free online leaning module Duolingo in order to examine if bilinguals can more easily learn basic French vocabulary as opposed to monolinguals. Participants were 20 bilingual and 20 monolingual liberal college students, ages 18-22, who had no previous knowledge of the French language. Post-lesson quiz scores were compared to participants’ native language, proficiency of more than one language, and fluency of more than one language. No significant correlations were found between participants’ quiz scores and these individual differences. These findings suggest that monolinguals and bilinguals within this cohort learn the Basic French 1 skill on Duolingo in under 20 minutes with the same level of facility.

Le Terroir et l’écosystème : Un regard à l’usage de paiements pour préserver les services écosystémiques en France
Derek Reno
Major(s): Environmental Science/French
Project Advisor: Dr. Briana Lewis
Ecosystem services are services provided to society by functions of the ecosystem. These services are crucial for the survival of humanity, but they are often undervalued and abused. Three decades ago, the Nestlé company discovered that the quality of the Vittel mineral water, bottled in the Vittel watershed in France, was diminishing due to pollutants from the farms in the basin. In response, the company made an agreement with the farmers of the Vittel watershed to preserve the quality of water through the implementation of a program of practices more conscious of the environment and of the quality of the water in the watershed. This payment for ecosystem services (PES) program is celebrated as a great success and a good model for the world to follow. The achievements of this effort depended largely on the cultural and economic importance attributed to the source of the Vittel watershed water and the willingness of the farmers to participate. This success is assuredly linked to the French cultural idea of Terroir. Terroir, the combination of natural and cultural elements that influence the characteristics of an agricultural product and which is the foundation of the appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) system, is a French idea that augments an appreciation of the natural world and of a place of origin. This appreciation predisposes the French to accept a payment for ecosystem service program as a manner of protecting the environment.

Projects In German

Eine genaue Betrachtung der niederdeutschen Sprache und ihrer Bedeutung für die norddeutsche Kultur
Emily Kilgannon
Major(s): German
Project Advisor: Dr. Linda C. DeMeritt
Within present-day Germany, there exist many regional and minority languages that are culturally significant. One such language is Niederdeutsch, or “low German” in English. This language is spoken in the northern states: Lower Saxony, Bremen, Hamburg, Schleswig-Holstein, and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Approximately 2.6 million people speak the language proficiently, although far more can understand and speak the language at a basic level. However, it is seen as a dying language because the number of speakers is in decline. This is unfortunate seeing as Niederdeutsch shares a rich history with the north Germans and also offers a sense of identity. The language branched off from the Germanic language of Old Saxon and was able to flourish as a main language in the North for hundreds of years. Despite the decline in speakers, there are individuals who are striving to keep the language alive. There are bands who sing in Niederdeutsch, books which were translated into the language, movies that were produced with dialects of Niederdeutsch and organizations which have brought the language into the school systems and even into the government. The language is symbolic of north German culture and the north German lifestyle; however, it is still viewed as something archaic and as a language of the past. The cause of the decline in Niederdeutsch speakers can largely, but not only, be traced back to the unification of Germans under one main language and the lack of need for regional variations. Because of this, the language seems to be dying out and therefore will become another piece of culture which has been lost to time. This poses the question: what is German culture? More specifically, what is north German culture and what does it mean to be a north German?

Volatility in Automobile Manufacturing: An Analysis of the United States, Germany, and Japan: Fallstudie im Deutschen an den Beispielen Volkswagen AG und General Motors
James Lasher
Major(s): Economics/German
Project Advisor: Dr. Tomas Nonnenmacher/Dr. Peter Ensberg
United States automotive manufacturers operate in vastly different ways compared to those in Germany and Japan. One explanation for the differences is that executives in the United States face far fewer constraints that influence their behavior based on national values and national systems (Crossland and Hambrick, 2007). This framework is used in this analysis to categorize these differences and to explain the relationship between the degree of managerial constraint and firm performance, measured by gross profit volatility. My hypothesis is that United States automotive firms experience a greater degree of gross profit volatility due to a lesser degree of constraint placed upon managers in the United States. In order to test this hypothesis, gross profit of nine firms (three from each country) is examined over ten years. The results of this analysis make it possible to conclude that U.S. automotive firms are much more volatile than their counterparts. A relationship exists between the level of managerial constraint and gross profit volatility. Whether a lesser degree of managerial constraint directly causes greater gross profit volatility cannot be directly concluded, however. A German case study serves to supplement these findings and investigate the respective roles of managers of General Motors in the Global Recession of 2008-2009 and Volkswagen in the recent emissions scandal. While it cannot be concluded that a system with greater managerial constraint is better or worse, the Japanese automotive firms remain the most consistent in terms of behavior and performance in comparison to the competition in Germany and the United States.

Projects In Spanish

The Evolution, Resilience, and Future of Bolívar’s Dream: Reevaluating Regional Integration in a Post-Liberal, Post-Hegemonic Latin America
Thomas Alvarez
Major(s): International Studies/Spanish
Project Advisor: Dr. Shannan Mattiace/Dr. Wilfredo Hernández
The goal of this study is to contextualize Latin America’s long, complex experience with regional integration. Specifically, I will analyze contemporary, fourth wave regional structures in a post-liberal, post-hegemonic Latin America (2001-Present). Since Simón Bolívar initially proposed a Spanish-American Union, similar, albeit less profound, regional attempts have been made. First, it is important to unravel and interpret the complex history of regional movements, referred to as waves, of which many scholars are hesitant to do. From this historical analysis, characteristics and trends of previous integration can then be used to explain and understand the current state of the Latin America’s regional system. In the final analysis, I examine twenty-first century regional schemes, identified as “fourth wave,” “post-liberal” and “post-hegemonic.” I contextualize Latin America’s “Pink Tide,” experienced in the early twenty-first century, in conjunction with September 11, 2001 and the subsequent US-foreign policy shift away from Latin America, as features of the fourth wave period. During this time, Latin America has been left without the predominating presence of a foreign hegemon, arguably for the first time in centuries. This motivated the founding of several Latin American-centered and US-exclusionary regional schemes which aimed at re-integrating the region (politically, economically, socially, and culturally), solving regional issues in the absence of the United States, and creating a unified regional voice to be heard on the world stage. Nearly 15 years since the turn of this new wave, current integration in Latin America is considerably inflated, overlapping, and ineffective. I argue that current Latin American leadership lacks both the political will and capability to commit to substantial, sustainable regionalisms. I as well suggest that hemisphere regional thought may no longer be helpful or relevant. Finally, following this grim interpretation, I contemplate several recent events which I believe signal the beginnings of a fifth wave of regional integration.

La adquisición de palabras en lenguaje extranjero, con la utilización de subtítulos
Nickki Figurski
Major(s): Spanish
Project Advisor: Dr. Barbara Riess
This thesis investigates the teaching and learning of vocabulary in a second language, with the assistance of subtitles in films and television shows. The first chapter shows many professional studies about teaching methodologies, which indicate that adults – of varying levels – and children, could acquire words in different languages after watching subtitled television programs and movies. The second chapter analyzes if this is an effective manner of learning and teaching vocabulary. Finally, the third chapter talks about what I did with my Spanish-language students. I also provide ways to improve this experiment in the future, according to the professional investigations. The scholars and I agree that using subtitled films to help teach vocabulary assists learners of foreign languages.

Saving Quichua: Intercultural Bilingual Education in Ecuador under the Correa Administration
Kelly Franz
Major(s): International Studies/Spanish
Project Advisor: Dr. Rehenuma Asmi/Dr. Wilfredo Hernández
This project examines the possibilities for Quichua language revitalization through Ecuador’s Intercultural Bilingual Education (IBE) System. I analyze the current program alongside best practices for language revitalization and bilingual education to determine what linguistic and educational conditions are helping or hindering its ability to promote language revitalization. I conclude that IBE has some strengths, but also significant weaknesses. The biggest strength of IBE under the current administration is its intercultural rhetoric. It is framing linguistic diversity in a positive light, addressing deeply held negative language attitudes. However, due to recent changes in IBE policy and disagreements between the Correa administration and social movements, indigenous groups are losing control over an education system that is meant to serve them. In addition to the loss of indigenous control and support, the program is also failing to adequately allocate the resources that communities and teachers need for successful implementation.

First-Generation College Students and the correlation of the Human Capital Theory
Eduardo Ramos
Major(s): Economics/Spanish
Project Advisor: Dr. Tomas Nonnenmacher/Dr. Wilfredo Hernández
This project explains and connects the human capital theory to first generation college students. It starts with an explanation of first-generation college students and the individuals who fall in this group. Then in the following chapter there is an explication of what human capital is and the categories necessary to increase human capital. Furthermore, the data used in this projects comes from the National Center for Education Statistics to see whether or not human capital correlates to the success of first generation college students. This is done by using the variables necessary to run the regression and analyzing the results. Afterwards, the results will be analyzed with a story, an autobiography, and a movie written in Spanish to see if there is a connection between the theory and the empirical analysis. The study’s results show that human capital is essential to the success of first-generation students and without the necessary hu man capital these students have a disadvantage when it comes to enrolling and receiving a bachelor’s degree compared to non-first generation college students.

Defining and Interpreting Latin American Greatness: The Hero, Caudillo, Intellectual, and Symbol
Charles Triolo
Major(s): History/Spanish
Project Advisor: Dr. Kalé Haywood/Asst. Prof. Dántan
Since the early 19th century there has been an ongoing debate about the definition of greatness. My project explores the changes in the definition of greatness throughout time, specifically focusing on Latin America, and why these changes occurred. All of these definitions are important and as a result I have come up with four categories that encompass them: the Hero, the Caudillo, the Intellectual, and the Symbol. In my project I explain why each category is needed to define greatness. I also look at various case studies of individuals in Latin America to support the validity of my four categories. I conclude that while these categories may be different they all share a commonality in that they are representations of what society at the time deemed important.

La representación del sistema sanitario español y el biopoder en el cine español
Kristen Zebrak
Major(s): Spanish
Project Advisor: Dr. Maria-Teresa Herrera De La Muela
The representation of the Spanish healthcare system and biopower is a rather new topic in Spanish film. Over the past several years, the Spanish healthcare system has become a healthcare system well known and a model for other healthcare systems through out the world. The topic of biopower has become popular with the works of Michel Foucault and is a philosophy that appears in the debate about health and healthcare. This thesis is going to investigate the presence of biopower in the Spanish healthcare system and in popular culture specifically Spanish film. Using the history of the Spanish healthcare system before, during and after the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, this thesis will analyze the representation of the Spanish healthcare system in Planta Cuarta (2003) by Antonio Mercero and Camino (2008) by Javier Fesser. These two movies represent the Spanish healthcare system and demonstrate biopower within the Spanish healthcare system.