Best of CURO 2010
Editor's Note : Humanities : Social Sciences : Policy : Arts



Richard (Seth) McKelvey
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Andrew Zawacki, Department of English, University of Georgia

Problems arise in compromising the inherent and necessary difficulties of certain complex, opaque poetries in efforts to make such poetry more accessible to readers.  Such poetry, which I will term contemporary American experimental poetry, is in reality a wide group of work which hardly fits under a single umbrella of categorization, but shares in common an unavoidable inaccessibility.  Refusing populist compromises, I believe such poetry could, however, be more engaging to more readers through collaborations with other artistic media which a wider community already enjoys on a regular basis, including, namely, music.  I intend to use the experimental poetry in my Directed Reading as a starting point, from which I will define the thematic concerns, complexities and aesthetics of my creative work within the vein of contemporary American experimentalists.  From there, I hope to marry the inevitable difficulty of this poetry with my own populist ideals through musical collaboration.  I am not a jazz musician, and have no qualms with setting experimental poetry to pop music in hopes of expanding readership.  Essentially, the goal is to piggyback my poetry on the more widely accessible medium of music.  This does not mean the music cannot interact critically with the poetry or move the poetry forward, but simply that the primary purpose of the music is to increase accessibility.  The final product will consist of roughly 20 pages of poetry, a critical introduction, and a full album of the entire collection set to music through collaborations with local musicians, myself included.

Best Paper in the Humanities

Ilana McQuinn
Faculty Advisor: Dr. John Morrow Jr., Department of History, University of Georgia

Czechoslovakia in the twentieth century followed a tumultuous path that led it to freedom from the 300-year yoke of the Habsburg Empire, to an existence as a small democratic nation surrounded by dictatorship, to Nazi occupation twenty short years later, and finally to total and complete de-individualization under Soviet Communism. Pushed to independence by the frustration of a protracted existence as the “other” in the German dominated Habsburg Empire, Czechs continued to struggle with developing an independent identity. Some have argued that the muted method of resistance that the Czechs employed through the majority of the Nazi and Communist control of Czechoslovakia weakened the Czech claim to a unified identity as a people. With a heavy reliance upon language as a distinguishing factor of Czech nationality, written word, especially in the form of literature, became paramount in the creation of a national identity in the twentieth century. This paper focuses on the way in which Jaroslav Hašek’s comedy The Good Soldier Švejk not only began the trend of the use of literature in Czech society to carry nationalist identity during times of repression, but also introduced a character, Švejk himself, who became iconic of the way in which the nation survived the threat of cultural extinction.

Social Sciences


Matthew Glass
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Daniel Kapust, Department of Political Science, University of Georgia

Conceptions of positive freedom advanced by political philosophers such as Plato, Hegel, and Rousseau hold that free actions are those which conform to what Isaiah Berlin terms one’s “true” self. That is, actions are only free when unconstrained by physical barriers and internal barriers such as ignorance and irrational thought. I will be continuing to examine the concept of positive freedom through a study of selected ancient, modern, and contemporary philosophical works, primarily including Plato’s Gorgias, Rousseau’s On the Social Contract, and Isaiah Berlin’s Two Concepts of Liberty. I argue that the conception of positive freedom is self-contradictory and therefore impossible to hold logically. In order for an action to be free under the conception of positive freedom, the action must be perfectly rational. This implies that a perfectly rational action is possible. For this to be the case, the action must have knowable consequences. For actions to have knowable consequences, one must assume a kind of determinism. If any situation lacked causal determinism, then the consequences of the action would be unknowable and a person could not act freely. However, accepting determinism as true is self-defeating because determinism negates the possibility of choice and freedom as existent concepts. Positive freedom, then, assumes a concept which destroys it. It cannot be seen as a logical conception of freedom.

Best Paper with a Civic Focus

David Malison – CURO Scholar
Faculty Advisor: Dr. David Mustard, Department of Economics, University of Georgia

It has been more than fifty years since the Supreme Court delivered the landmark Brown v. Board of Education opinion, banning compulsory segregation in schools across America. Although overt racial discrimination remains prohibited by law, schools today find themselves increasingly divided across racial lines. This trend has left many low-income, minority students concentrated in urban schools while more affluent, white students receive their education in suburban neighborhoods. How have these trends influenced the black-white performance gap on standardized tests in Georgia? Using data collected by the Georgia Department of Education, our study aims to answer this important question. We have recently assembled a database that contains detailed information on every Georgia public middle school over the past five school years. We plan to analyze these data first with cross-sectional ordinary least squares regressions, and then by using a linear fixed effects model. Our primary measure of school performance will be the percentage of students meeting statewide standards on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT). We expect to find that increasing segregation has caused the black-white achievement gap to expand, consistent with other recent findings in this area. In today’s economy, the impact that schooling has on future earnings cannot be overemphasized. A growing gap in educational achievement will ultimately lead to increased inequality across racial lines. By calling attention to these problems, we hope to encourage the Georgia public school system to explore and adopt policies that mitigate the negative consequences that segregation may have on students today.

Best Paper in the Social Sciences

Laura McDonald
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Kirk Willis, Department of History, University of Georgia

This paper examines the 1794 Treason Trials as a turning point in the British definition of treason and how this turning point sheds light on the transfer of state power from the king to the people. Without a written constitution, British state power relied on a carefully balanced relationship between the king, Parliament, and the people. The definition of treason, however, identified state power as residing solely in the person of the king; threats to the people or to Parliament were not considered attacks on the state. When the spread of radical ideology from the French Revolution made such attacks seem imminent, Prime Minister William Pitt and his attorney-general John Scott brought the reform leaders to trial for treason. Ultimately, the defense, led by Thomas Erskine, was able to prove that the defendants’ attempts to reform Parliament in no way represented an attack on the person of the king and therefore did not qualify as treason. The acquittal of the defendants led to new legislation that redefined treason to include attacks or threats to Parliament, acknowledging that state power had shifted beyond the king. The research for this paper relies on a close reading of the transcripts of the Treason Trials, personal accounts from the defendants and the lawyers, and secondary source material. The paper seeks to demonstrate that the trials marked not only a shift to a new definition of treason but also a recognition of a new definition of the power and rights of the state.


Trenton Mize & Tré Myers
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Dawn Robinson, Department of Sociology, University of Georgia

An emerging technique for studying emotions involves the measurement of facial temperature using infrared thermography. We focus on possible systematic differences in facial temperature as a function of participant’s race. This study used data from 82 women and 68 men who participated in a study of “Pictures and Feelings.” Sixty-one participants self-reported as “white,” and 21 self-reported as “black.” Participants viewed images and completed self-report emotional measurements while their facial temperature was measured using infrared thermography. Images varied systematically in their capacity to elicit feelings of potency and activity in a 2 (potency: high, low) x 2 (activity: high, low) factorial design. The emotion manipulations were derived from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS). Based on previous literature, we predicted some differences in emotion as a function of self-reported race. These predictions were not supported. We analyzed differences in facial temperature throughout the experiment as a function of self-reported race. We found consistent differences in facial temperature by race across all images and all facial regions, with no interactions by facial region or image set. We also found a few differences in self-reported emotion by race but no differences that would explain the consistent temperatures differences. We believe that the facial temperature differences observed were due to different skin tone emissivities, which would cause lighter or darker skin tones to be read at different temperatures by the infrared camera. We present further analyses to test this possibility. These results could be important to consider when studying emotions across races and ethnicities.

Best Paper with an International Focus

Lucas Puente – Roosevelt at UGA
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Maurits van der Veen, Department of International Affairs, University of Georgia

The collapse of the U.S.S.R. and the subsequent dissolving of its Council for Mutual Economic Assistance led to Cuba’s “Special Period,” in which investment in the domestic economy and access to foreign exchange disappeared. This forced the Castro regime to reevaluate its development policy and, for the first time, actively seek and promote foreign direct investment (FDI). Nevertheless, Cuba has refrained from providing a laissez-faire marketplace for foreign firms and investors; on the contrary, the Castro regime has been determined to regulate and control this investment as much as possible. As per the existing literature, this strategy is imprudent as FDI has been shown to have had a generally positive influence on several economic and political factors, such as growth, wages, civil liberties, and political empowerment. Given these self-imposed constraints, FDI’s ability to engender change is expected to have produced much less impressive results in Cuba. Although I expect to find that this expansion of FDI has been a net positive in terms of promoting economic growth, its capacity to improve domestic human development and expand political freedoms appears to have been hindered. To determine the precise nature of this impact, I am examining sub-national data sets regarding the current nature of foreign investment in Cuba. Regression analysis will also be utilized to better understand the changes resulting from inflows of FDI


Aaron Sayama – Roosevelt at UGA
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Seema Gahlaut, Center for International Trade & Security, University of Georgia

Strategy is the pervasive element within a nation’s decisions; it is the motivating factor from domestic to foreign policy. One nation that takes the notion of strategy to the extreme is the People’s Republic of China (PRC). For scholars and laymen, the PRC represents the ultimate enigma with regards to foreign policy and military doctrine—distilling some type of strategy remains elusive to policymakers. Yet, the world is beginning to notice the PRC’s increase in investment in its military, and governments have started looking into possible reasons and outcomes for this seemingly sudden shift in Chinese military policy. Connecting political moves of other nations to broad strategic theory is one way scholars and policymakers address and identify problems in American foreign policy. My research attempts to connect defense acquisitions made by the PRC to strategic theory in an effort to improve American foreign policy regarding the PRC. Through a systematic exploration of the PRC’s technology industry, paying special attention to their high-tech defense technology acquisitions, I attempt to present the explicit links between technology, security, and prestige in the PRC. I subsequently identify three major areas in which the PRC is competing with the U.S. Furthermore, I provide an analysis of their motivating factors and how current events fit under the PRC’s strategic culture and discuss their political ramifications on global security.



Ashley Doliber
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Jaroslav Tir, Department of International Affairs, University of Georgia

Conflict has gripped Somalia for decades with little to no end in sight. While many have tried to resolve the conflict, a sustainable and successful strategy remains elusive. As a failed state with a bitter past and tenuous future, there is a tactical and moral imperative for the region and the global community to bring stability to Somalia. With a moderate government, international attention, and an as-yet imperfect insurgency, there may never be a better opportunity to act than now. Based on analysis of the Somali conflict history and context, as well as research on conflict resolution and management methods, and attention to the consequences of each prescription, this study outlines a comprehensive and multifaceted approach to achieving long-term peace in
Somalia. The research indicates taking the conflict of Somalia and the semi-autonomous region of Somaliland on a separate—though mutually informing—basis. For Somaliland, partition is recommended to remove the region from the danger of continued attachment to Somalia proper as well as to encourage nascent state, civil and democratic institutions in Somaliland. In Somalia proper, however, a two pronged strategy is best. This policy consists of peace- and state-building via coordinated international intervention (e.g., UN, AU, regional actors), followed by negotiations between the government, insurgents, and any other important players (e.g., warlords, clan leaders). Through a careful and considered application of these prescriptions, the country has a chance to usher in an era of stability, security, and opportunity that the people of Somalia have seldom seen.


Saptarsi (Rohan) Mukhopadhyay – Roosevelt at UGA
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Tyra Byers, Odum School of Ecology, University of Georgia

Athens-Clarke County’s (ACC) tax revenues have shrunk dramatically due to the weak economy. Consequently, ACC needs to reduce expenses to balance its budget as mandated by state laws. Energy costs are an ideal target for reducing overall costs. They are embedded in the costs of providing all services and can be cut with little adverse effect on the quality or extent of services provided. Through the implementation of various types of economically efficient energy upgrades, energy usage and costs can be reduced. To realize potential energy usage and cost savings fully, all upgrades need to be conducted simultaneously. The nature of energy efficiency projects is synergistic; different upgrades working in conjunction conserve more energy and money than would seem to be indicated simply by the sum of their individual effects. Hence, if all of these projects are not pursued in parallel, maximum potential savings simply cannot be realized. Unfortunately, ACC currently does not realize the maximum potential savings in energy costs due to its current piecemeal method of funding these projects. ACC should create a $500,000 “Energy Bank” based on a similar plan in place at Chapel Hill, NC through the issuing of municipal bonds and a process to use this fund for energy efficiency upgrades in public buildings to address these policy failures. This sustainable and stable source of long-term funding should allow all economically efficient energy efficiency upgrades to be implemented to achieve maximal cost savings, reducing the cost of proving services and ultimately increasing social welfare.


Shayna Pollock – Roosevelt at UGA
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Lewell Gunter, Department of Agricultural & Applied Economics, University of Georgia

From 1993 to 2008, the U.S. saw an increase in the importation of fresh fruit from 10 percent to 32 percent of all domestically consumed produce. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Customs monitor imports by randomly testing 5 percent of all produce, but they cannot control the pesticides used in other countries. Thus, the safety of imports is unreliable. According to the FDA, six percent of imports contain illegal pesticide residues, but the current system of bonds is ineffective in keeping this produce away from consumers. A 1992 Government Accountability Office report shows that 60 percent of all tainted imported produce reaches grocery stores despite knowledge of contamination. Based on an extrapolation using current import size, approximately 400-480 thousand metric tons of contaminated produce reached Americans in 2006. However, only 17 percent of the companies distributing tainted food paid damages. Thus, current regulations do not deter companies. After a literature review and analysis of current policy failures, this paper proposes that Congress should grant the FDA the ability to implement a system of civil fines. The fine schedule should consist of two sets of fines: one for the importation of a tainted good and a second for the distribution of contaminated produce. This civil fine system will promote self-regulation. While this new regulatory framework will result in potentially higher costs, this paper demonstrates methods for evaluating the significant social health benefits of reduced pesticide exposure. Further, a stricter system will lead to more sustainable international agriculture.


Matthew Sellers – CURO Summer Research Fellow, Roosevelt at UGA
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Robert Hill, Department of Lifelong Education, Administration and Policy, University of Georgia

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students face harassment and bullying on a daily basis. A study by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) found that 86.2 percent of LGBTQ students reported harassment in the past year. Using a review of the literature and policy statements, the current project investigates the extent to which LGBTQ students are affected by harassment and assesses methods to mitigate its negative effects. According to survey data collected by the GLSEN, students who report harassment and violence based on sexuality or gender identity experience decreased educational and psychological outcomes, including lower GPAs, increased absenteeism and attrition, diminished post-secondary aspirations, and heightened risk of drug abuse and suicide. Moreover, these students later grapple with depression and insecurity in their adult lives. Faculty and staff play a significant role in the perpetuation of this harassment as they often ignore instances of harassment and bullying that merit intervention. The paper proposes the creation of a task force aimed at educating faculty and staff state-wide to increase efficacy in palliating the negative effects of harassment and bullying, including absenteeism; schools with supportive faculty who regularly intervene demonstrate half as much absenteeism as schools without supportive faculty. In addition to educating school employees, the policy suggests adapting anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies to include sexuality and gender identity specifically since comprehensive policies successfully lower mean victimization scores by 12.5 percent. The paper finally explores the benefits of such a policy based on the correlation between lowered discrimination, harassment, bullying, and victimization and improved educational and psychological outcomes for LGBTQ students.


Irena Stevens – Roosevelt at UGA
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Loch Johnson, Department of International Affairs, University of Georgia

As technology and general education continue to improve, open source intelligence (OSINT) is the fastest spreading, but most underutilized, form of information by intelligence operatives. The collection and processing of OSINT will become an insurmountable problem for the intelligence community (IC) without a venue for accessing the expertise of the academic, corporate, and research institutions on a need or demand basis. Since most of the information available to the analyst dealing with foreign events is open source, further development of an effective method of analysis can dramatically improve the framework of fragmented intelligence by filling in gaps and creating links. Effective analysis of OSINT can move the IC toward a greater understanding of other parties, especially in individual motivations and in cultural knowledge. This framework provides a more complete database to be supplemented by other forms of intelligence, such as those collected by clandestine or satellite methods. Since the internet is the main source of the expanding supply of information, it should also be used to organize and funnel ideas between outside parties and the intelligence community through a database of personnel and relevant research. The willingness to process and share information is rewarded with a system of incentives designed to benefit the analyst through recognition, monetary, professional, intellectual, and psychological rewards. By establishing a database of expert personnel and enabling them to share ideas, the intelligence community and research institutions can gain mutual benefit in processing open source information



Kory Gabriel
Faculty Advisor: Professor Joseph Norman, Lamar Dodd School of Art, University of Georgia


Daniel Smith
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Asen Kirin, Lamar Dodd School of Art, University of Georgia

All creations inevitably contain some aspect of their creators. To better understand art, I have spent the past several months investigating the most dramatic instance of this phenomenon as evidenced in self portraiture. In my exploration, I researched a number of artists. I looked at Albrecht Durer’s super-realistic, divine renditions; Michelangelo’s monumental conceits; Rembrandt Van Rijn’s humble and vulnerable paintings; and a number of other artists’ works and writings. As a genre, self portraiture removes all variables from the creative process except the basic reproduction of the image and likeness of the artist. This approach towards art is one of the earliest, and in it’s simplicity it is the most powerful. Ultimately, I reproduced my own image in a series of images, which hopefully communicate more than mere words. In this photographic series, I used both the integrity of film and the flexibility of digital technology. Some images I printed simply in the darkroom. Other images I photographed in parts and later compiled, distorted, or fabricated the individual elements on a computer. Through these alternatively traditional and unconventional means, I compiled a number of realistic and surrealistic images. In constructing each image, I paid careful attention to symbolism, pose, and art historical relevance. My images speak for themselves, presenting my own ideas about self portraiture yet echoing the conceits of numerous self portraitists throughout history.


Sheena Varghese
Faculty Advisor: Professor Emeritus Judie McWillie, Lamar Dodd School of Art, University of Georgia

In my recent work, I have focused on the concept of transmission inherent between generations, specifically that of my immigrant parents to myself in the context of the United States. Through various explorations of a photograph of an intimate moment of my parents wedding ceremony in India, I have extrapolated a series for process-laden paintings that consider the trans-generational impact of transmission through immigration. The original photograph captures the day of their marriage, the beginning a union that resulted in my brother and I, and furthermore the relationships we have created with others. Secondary photographs used as source material reveal the connection between these new relationships with others and the conceptual relationship between my parents and myself through repetition of the pose within the original wedding photograph. The photograph acts an indexical sign, portraying the causal relationship between the signifier and the signified, representing the actuality of the moment of the ceremony captured. The medium of the photograph is transparent, in contrast to the method of painting I utilize in this exploration to create an icon, a matter of resemblance and re-presentation. The paintings deny the causal relationship between the photograph and its signified, highlighting instead my interpretation of the significance of transmission between cross-cultural generations within the United States.


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