The Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs (RCGA) promotes the integration of students’ study abroad with their independent senior research.

Call for Proposals

We invite both Middlebury College undergraduates who will be on an approved study abroad program, as well as undergraduates from other institutions who will be studying at a Middlebury C.V. Starr School Abroad to submit proposals to conduct independent overseas research.

You can carry out this research either during the time of your study abroad or immediately after your study abroad experience. The research can be in any field, and students should develop proposals in consultation with a faculty mentor at their home institution. The grants are not meant to fund credit-bearing overseas research. Highest priority will be given to proposals that will lead to independent senior work.

Depending on the specifics of the proposed research, these grants will be between $1000 and $2800, and will be designed to cover research costs. Students should specify the research costs that will be funded by the grant. Where relevant, projects will also need to be reviewed by the  Institutional Review Board of the student’s home institution.

Faculty should indicate that they have agreed to work with a designated student who will be studying abroad, and may mentor one or more students.


March 31: Deadline for proposals from students who will be studying abroad during the upcoming academic year and wish to conduct research in the country of study during the study abroad period and/or immediately after.

Deadline for the required letter of support from the faculty member endorsing a student’s proposal, including information about their role in overseeing the research.

October 17: Deadline for proposals from students who are studying abroad during the current academic year and wish to conduct research in the country of study that begins in the upcoming spring semester or immediately after.

Deadline for proposals from students who will be studying abroad during the upcoming spring semester and wish to conduct research in the country of study during spring semester or immediately after.

Deadline for the required letter of support from the faculty member endorsing a student’s proposal, including information about their role in overseeing the research.

Students should submit proposals and faculty should submit letters of support to the Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs at

RCGA Study Abroad Grant Proposal Form


Charlotte Tate
Associate Director
Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs
Robert A. Jones ‘59 House 114
Middlebury College

2019-2020 Grant Awards

Middlebury College Recipients

Frank Gavilanez ’20: “The Racial and Ethnic Construction of Brazilian National Identity”

Matthew Martignoni ’21.5: “Queer and Arab Identities in Diaspora”

Kenzo Okazaki ’21: “Was It Enlightenment? The Genealogy of Biopolitics and Terror as Informed by British Practices of Slavery”

Benjy Renton ’21: “Access to and Characteristics of Housing for China’s Urban Poor”

Spencer Royston ’21: “Educational Philosophies regarding Portuñol in Language Classrooms along the Uruguay-Brazil Border”

Abdoul Nasser Bounia Yahaya ’21: “The Impact of Post-Colonial Treaties on French African Former Colonies’ Current Economic Development”

Non-Middlebury College Undergraduates at Middlebury College Schools Abroad

Bramwell Atkins, Sewanee: The University of the South ’21: “The Paleography of Anglo-Latin Medieval Manuscripts”

Claudine Chartouni, Bowdoin College ’20: “The Italian Art Collector: Understanding the Traits of the Collector and the Cultural Context that Shaped Them”

2018-2019 Grant Recipients

Middlebury College Recipients

Nick Hunnewell ‘20.5: “The Motives behind the Emerging Electric Vehicle Market in China”

Non-Middlebury College Undergraduates at Middlebury College Schools Abroad

Claudine Chartouni, Bowdoin College ‘20: “The Italian Art Collector: Understanding the Traits of the Collector and the Cultural Context that Shaped Them”

Emilie Flamme, Amherst College ‘20: “Krushchovkas and the Formation of Place, Citizenship, and Belonging in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russia”

2017-2018 Grant Recipients

Middlebury College Recipients

Travis Sanderson ‘19

“Black Cat’s Claw: The Impact of Migrant Regulations on Structural Inequality in the People’s Republic of China”

Decades of migrant regulations have bifurcated society in China based on migrant status. Migrant families experience permanent structural inequalities in both rural and urban areas. Utilizing a combination of personal interviews and the existing literature, I prove that migrant regulations create structural barriers for migrant families in both educational opportunities and social connections available. Poverty alleviation efforts may lift individual migrants above the poverty line, but they are currently insufficient to alleviate structural inequality. To address structural inequality, poverty alleviation efforts should include reform of the urban public-school fund allocation rubric in urban areas. Instead of funding public schools based on number of official residents, public schools should receive funds according to the number of total residents in school districts. Such reform would allow migrant families to provide stable educations to their children, which in turn would help dismantle the structural inequality at the heart of Chinese society.

Non-Middlebury College Undergraduates at Middlebury College Schools Abroad

Catherine Cartier, Davidson College ‘19: “The Art of Speaking: Oral storytelling among Syrians in Jordan”

Natasha Derezinski-Choo, Duke University ‘19: “How Kabiye-French Bilingual Speakers in Northern Togo Use French Lexical Borrowings to Index Social Identities”

Claire Koelling, Kenyon College ‘19: “Contemporary Arab Art: Outside the Western dominated paradigm”

2016-2017 Grant Recipients

Middlebury College Recipients

Jinsuel Jun ’17, political science

The Importance of Access in Understanding Disability and Political Reality of Disabled Jordanians

How do policy issues affect persons with disabilities? The impact of any disability policy not only depends on the conceptual understanding of disability, but also on the conceptual understanding of access. In the case of the Jordanian disability policies, the government issued the Law on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities — No.31/ 2007, which rests on the dominant medical paradigm of disability. This model identifies an individual’s medical condition as the primary barrier facing disabled people. My analysis of oral history interviews suggests that there is a shared understanding of access across different stakeholders. However, persons with disabilities and disability advocates prioritize access in support of full participation whereas policymakers prioritize individual access. Subsequently, their competing goals and priorities lead to the government’s exhaustion of fund to provide cost-efficient and individualized accommodations rather than to improve their policy design to remove communicational, physical and attitudinal barriers, resulting in the limited impact of the disability-related laws.

Timothy McGovern ’18, classics and literary studies

Originality and Tradition: Finding Dante’s Poetic Hand in the Divine Comedy’s Presentation of the Soul

The essay examines the presentation of the soul in Dante’s Commedia in the context of the author’s two-pronged ambition for his epic: to produce a work of both poetic genius and theological orthodoxy. First, the paper analyzes the sources that influenced Dante’s conception of the soul, demonstrating his effort to combine philosophical and literary traditions. Examples of the Commedia’s orthodox presentation of the soul are examined next, which highlight Dante’s attempt to depict a theologically acceptable soul. The paper moves then considers departures from orthodoxy, instances when Dante prefers poetic innovation to accepted doctrine. Given Dante’s explicit intention to construct an orthodox poem, these seemingly intentional contradictions of Church teaching are puzzling. In its conclusion, the essay suggests a Thomistic interpretation found in Dante’s epistle to the Italian noble Cangrande, which calls on the reader to interpret certain parts of the Commedia literally and others metaphorically.

Non-Middlebury College Undergraduates at Middlebury College Schools Abroad

Alana Felton ’18, Brown University, Slavic studies: Rebuilding of Russian Orthodox Churches in Yaroslavl after the Collapse of the Soviet Union: The Renewal of Church-State Relations

Hans (Lydia) Han, ’18, Wellesley College, economics: A Political Anthropological Lens on the Jordanian System of Citizenship and the Palestinian Refugee Crisis 

Nicholas Henke ’18, Washington University, French literature: French novels by women in the postwar era and their relationship to Second Wave Feminism

Hilah Kohen ’18, Washington University, comparative literature: “Russian Fever” and the Great War: A Turning Point in Russian-British Literary Relations

Grace Monk ’18, Brown University, comparative literature and classics

Memorias del Territorio is a project that celebrates the history and culture of Valparaíso, Chile through murals. Over the past 5-10 years, street art has exploded in Valparaíso. Urban art permeates the cerros, or hills, of the city. While the presence of graffiti is substantial, many young artists are turning to muralism. In order to paint, one needs only verbal permission of the wall’s owner, and a growing number of residents are beginning to see murals as a beautiful alternative to graffiti-covered walls. After about a month of research and conversations with artists, gallery owners, and residents, I developed and named the project, Memorias del Territorio, with local Chilean artists. The project sponsors murals in community spaces throughout the city, and each mural relates to the history of its location or a specific aspect of Chilean culture. The artists are from various regions of Chile, all currently living and painting in Valparaíso. Each mural serves a different community, and a goal of the project is to create positive relationships between artists and residents with the belief that street art can benefit everyone.

Kevin Pham ’18, Vassar College, international studies: Community Meme: Challenges Facing Jordan’s LGBTQ Population

Spring 2016 Grant Recipients

Middlebury College Recipients

Caroline Agsten ’17, international and global studies - Awarded the Lesley T. Ketzel ‘49 Fellowship for Integrating Research with Study Abroad

Stratifying Spaces or Green Places? Gendering Public Parks in Beijing and Shanghai

From 1914-1925, Beijing underwent a vigorous public works campaign in which all formerly imperial gardens were converted into public parks. The dismantling of imperial walls coincided with the urban Chinese woman beginning to occupy a more significant role outside the home. This thesis examines the role of public parks in Beijing and Shanghai as social organizing structures with specific attention to gender. Although the physical walls surrounding imperial gardens were knocked down long ago, access to parks and full use of them was still constrained by numerous factors. By evaluating contemporary phenomena with historical developments, I found that public parks today are still patterned by ideas about normative gender roles for men and women. Many park activities act as gendered performances that reinforce implicitly understood social roles. This thesis also describes how the built environment plays a fundamental role in constructing these gendered activities. But despite physical (and social) boundaries, park users are able to negotiate their positions by appropriating different spaces to pursue different leisure activities. Drawing on personal interviews and participant observation, this thesis illuminates a facet of the ongoing discussion surrounding gender roles, gender expectations, and gendered behavior in contemporary China.

Rubi Saavedra Andres ’17, international and global studies

Between ‘Hassa’ and ‘Hala’: The Formation of a Jordanian-Palestinian Identity

For geopolitical reasons, the Palestinian and Jordanian identities have always been linked and thought of homogeneous until the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. As a response to the inflow of millions of Palestinian refugees into Jordan, as well the detrimental presence of the PLO, the Hashemite Kingdom created a new type of nationalism that then fractured society into two: Jordanian-Palestinians and “Jordanian-Jordanians.” From attitudinal responses, I gathered that 92.3% of the interviewees identified as Jordanian by nationality, but considered themselves Palestinian. Self-determination, in addition to the governmental identification system, aids the discrimination of Jordanian-Palestinians when applying for a job, or performing legal procedures. Although other factors should be analyzed in further research, I strongly believe the stratification of Jordanian-Palestinians in Jordanian society represents a danger to a cohesiveness the Kingdom needs in times of political unrest such as the one we are currently witnessing in the region. 

Rachel Iacono ’17.5, international and global studies

The Evolution of “Willkommenskultur”: The transformation of Germany’s attitudes towards mass migration

My thesis traces the evolution of Germany’s Willkommenskultur (welcome culture) towards refugees and asylum-seekers from the 1990s to the present day. Through a discussion of five analytical foci and an analysis of temporal background conditions, the thesis aims to answer the questions, where did Germany’s contemporary Willkommenskultur come from and what conditions facilitated its presence? With the 1990s being a period characterized by the relative absence of Willkommenskultur, I argue the peak of Willkommenskultur to be in 2015. To explain this peak, this thesis finds Chancellor Angela Merkel herself; Germany’s new role as a global leader and economic powerhouse; and the importance of Vergangenheitsbewältigung as critical background conditions that facilitated Willkommenskultur’s rise in 2015. However, despite this peak, this thesis additionally finds Willkommenskultur to have declined over the course of 2016-2017. It attributes this decline to Merkel’s political indecisiveness; increased anxieties followed terrorist attacks; and mounting political pressure from fellow EU member states to curb the refugee flow. To conclude, the final chapter discusses Willkommenskultur’s broader global implications and its future in German society as a whole. 

Karma Lama ’17, environmental studies

The Paradox of Purity and Pollution: Examining Ecology and Religion along the Ganges River

My research, conducted in Banaras, India examines pollution of the Ganges river, which is understood by Hindus to be a literal manifestation of the goddess Ganga. Millions of pilgrims come to Banaras each year to bathe and/or release the ashes of deceased relatives into the river as a means of ritual purification. Yet, due to rapid industrialization and a lack of regulations on waste disposal, the river has become increasingly polluted in recent years, a problem that the government has not adequately addressed. My work in Banaras focused primarily on the experiences and narratives of underrepresented groups who are disproportionately affected by the river’s pollution. This research provided critical ethnographic data for my thesis, allowing me to compare “on-the-ground” perspectives with the textual, historical, and policy approaches I have encountered in class and research here at Middlebury. Thus, I have been able to generate holistic analyses regarding how to move forward in the urgent issue.

Qingying Wang ’17, political science and history of art and architecture

Power, Art, or Identity: A Study on French Gardens during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

This research aims to examine the role of gardens in France during the seventeenth and eighteenth century, as well as the political and cultural context behind the transition of the French gardens from the formal style to the landscape style. During my year abroad in Paris, I travelled to different gardens in France, Britain and Germany, and conducted research both in Europe and back in Middlebury as an independent project with Professor Erin Sassin. From my research, I observed that among the different shaping powers of the garden design, such as the development in aesthetics and in philosophy, the political intentions of the royal regime to demonstrate and to enhance their power play a significant role in determining the visual structure of the French gardens. I argue that there is a general correlation between the visual compositions of the French gardens and the power structure of the royal regimes during this period.

William Weightman ’17, international politics and economics

The Paradox of Reform: Rising Inequality, the Welfare State, and Decentralized Governance in Modern China

Since the Reform and Opening began in 1978, China has effectively transitioned from a centrally planned communist system to a market-oriented authoritarian regime. This transition has simultaneously given rise to a stark urban-rural divide. This thesis argues that China’s decentralized authoritarian governance model creates a unique institutional environment that has not only ensured the resiliency and adaptability of the party-state, but has also been a major factor contributing to regional and urban-rural inequality. Specifically, through statistical analysis using newly aggregated provincial-level data and case studies based on original field research conducted in China, this thesis explores the paradoxical relationship between reform and inequality. If one wants to understand how China will address major policy issues like economic inequality in the future, it is paramount to first understand the role that institutions and institutional change has played in the making of modern China.

Non-Middlebury College Undergraduates at Middlebury College Schools Abroad

Georgia Gempler ’17, Macalester College, Latin American studies and political science (minor): Perceptions of Migrant Identity and Integration: A Comparative Study of Urban Brazilian and Bolivian Migrants

Helen Mercer-Taylor ’17, Oberlin College, environmental studies: Biodiversity Preservation through Place-Based Knowledge in Yunnan, China

Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs
Robert A. Jones 59 House
148 Hillcrest Road
Middlebury, VT 05753