Past Master's Projects

The variety of master's projects produced by our students testifies to the interdisciplinary nature of the Duke GLS program.  Some take the form of a traditional master's thesis, but explore issues from a perspective that requires stepping back from disciplinary boundaries or combining the methods of different disciplines.  Others combine traditional academic analysis with other modes and genres -- whether creative, documentary or practical.   Each of them represents the culminating efforts of a student in achieving the MALS degree.  

Each year, a few projects that are especially noteworthy are given the designation of "Exemplary Master's Project," and are marked as such in these records.  Search for the word "exemplary" to find them.  Exemplary projects make particularly good models for students who are contemplating master's projects of their own.  A video showcase featuring some of our 2019-20 winners may be found here.

Co-location Opportunities for Dynamic Use of Existing and Proposed School Buildings
Spring 2022
Author:
Bozhena Etin
Supervisor:

We have, on average, 1,098 to 2,168 annual school closures per year. That means thousands of school buildings need to be repurposed every year or they will stand vacant, become vandalized, and bring blight and a sense of abandonment to their neighborhoods. However, at the same time, there is an ever-growing need for affordable housing, community centers, meeting and workspaces, childcare facilities, parks and recreation areas, and other community spaces that can be accommodated within these structures. In this paper, I analyze the typology of the school building through history, and through some notable examples, demonstrate how school buildings can be adapted to other uses in the community. I also present examples of schools and community spaces sharing common buildings and the unique opportunities this co-location provides for the students as well as community members. The ultimate takeaway for this paper is to show that a school building is not just a place we send our kids to get an education. It can and should be a place for all people in the community to feel a part of and welcomed.

An Interpretive History of the Lower Deep River Region, NC
Spring 2022
Author:
Cole W. Wicker

How can interpreting the regional history of the lower Deep River region of North Carolina inform land conservation for future generational use, education, and recreation? I explore the Lower Deep River Region, NC, and its mining heritage in hopes of understanding how land conservation efforts can use interpretive history as a guiding framework. With the approval of a regional state trail, ever expanding public parks, and the threat of impending commercial development, the region sits at the precipice of change. In the paper, I examine the region's past, including its indigenous and early histories, as well as its coal mining and industrial heritage, and I contextualize these stories alongside available interpretive resources. I explore themes of race and labor in a temporal and spatial manner as a guiding methodical framework. Using historic maps and spatial sources, I reconstruct the Deep River’s history and bring the buried, lost, and disappearing past into the present. The river’s past informs how certain places, markers, or seemingly naturalized objects become integral in the regional conservation dialogue. In addition to the written component below, I include a website (deepriverhistory.com) that allows the public to engage with the material at an individual pace.

Volleyball, but Make it Sexy: Mediated Representations of Female Athletes
Spring 2022
Author:
Frances Rosseland-Harrison

The female athlete experience is complicated and beautiful. Women were long excluded from the world of sport and looked at as “masculine” when they did compete. To combat this fear of seeing “less feminine” women, sport organizers and mass media overcompensated; now we see sportswomen wearing less. This trend is especially evident in my own sport of volleyball. By examining the evolution of the beach volleyball uniform and media representation of the sport, I hope to map patterns that can be tracked in other female sports. I will call on frameworks established by researchers Linda Fuller, Paul Davis, and Janet Fink to help us understand how meaningful differences in media coverage of female athletics shape consumption of female sports and impact the female athletes themselves. To situate the work in context, I will provide a historical perspective on female athletics, looking at the rise of popular media and its impact on women’s sports. When sex is used to sell sports, female athletes become pawns in an unwinnable game.

Singularity, Solidarity, and Gender in France 1945-1997
Spring 2022
Author:
Elisabeth Wharton
Supervisor:

This paper examines how French Philosopher Mona Ozouf’s theory of French Singularity answers for the state of French feminism at the end of the 20th century. It also examines the historical and moral gaps in this theory and offers social solidarity as an alternative lens through which to understand the theory. Chapter One provides a historical explanation of Ozouf’s response to American feminists’ critique of the French women’s movement. Ozouf attributes the French women’s movement’s relative quiescence after 1945 to the fact that French women benefited from a legacy of female power that existed during the Ancien Régime as well as France’s legacy of social (sexual) mixing. After the French Revolution, Ozouf points to educational privileges (thanks to Rousseau) advanced in service of Republican motherhood that French women enjoyed, making French women’s experience of womanhood superior to that of women in the rest of Europe or the United States. Chapters Two and Three survey Claire Duchen’s historical challenge to Ozouf’s singular representation of the women’s movement in postwar France. This includes longstanding campaigns for legislative removal of laws limiting women’s marital and reproductive rights that laid the groundwork for reforms in the late 1960s and 1970s. Chapter Two also examines internal conflicts between Lacanian Psychanalyse et Politique and the rest of the French second wave women’s movement. Chapter Four proposes an interpretation of French Singularity through Sally Scholz’s theoretical framework of solidarity and demonstrates how French Singularity, once detached from its problematic underpinnings and understood through the lens of social solidarity, stands as a useful historical explanation of French gender relations in the 1990s.

I Knew Home When I Saw it: Mapping RaMell Ross’s Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Spring 2022
Author:
David Reeves
Supervisor:

This project consists of two parts: 1) an initial, written analysis of Hale County This Morning, This Evening, a 2018 documentary of my home county (Hale County, Alabama) by filmmaker (and former public school coach) RaMell Ross, exploring details of the film through RaMell Ross’s own words, in interviews, about his style, through my personal experiences of the area through research of historical context, and close readings of particular scenes in the film. And 2) an interactive map that offers a deeper understanding of the area, the people, and important places Ross features in the film, drawing on all of the work for part 1 and on an interview between the author and the documentary filmmaker himself. The audio of this interview is included in a separate file. This second part, the story map with visuals and audio, is my most important contribution, the first being detailed research towards, and also an introduction to, the interactive map. 

Opportunity Zones: Potential Economic and Community Impacts in Durham and Johnston Counties, North Carolina
Fall 2021
Author:
Randy Delgado
Supervisor:

The 2017 Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act included a provision for creating "Opportunity Zones" to spur investment in disadvantaged communities. The Act provided that funds invested in these zones (plus an additional amount of "new money") will enable investors to postpone taxes on capital gains from other investments, and also reduce their tax rate if the investment is kept for more than ten years. What is the possible economic and social impact of these Opportunity Zones both nationally and in North Carolina? This paper reviews hundreds of investment funds and projects that have been created to channel private capital into Opportunity Zones. It then looks at zones in Durham County (7 zones) and in Johnston County, North Carolina (4 zones). In Johnston County the opportunity tracts will likely attract investors seeking market-rate returns, result in more temporary economic impact and little to no social impact. In Durham County the opportunity tracts will likely attract investors seeking equitable development and have the potential to achieve longer term social impacts. It will be important to consider how the Opportunity Zone program interacts with other government subsidies (e.g., New Market Tax Credits) available to investors.

The Effect of Social Isolation on Adolescents During COVID-19
Summer 2021
Author:
Lana Malki
Supervisor:

My initial hypothesis was that adolescents may carry into adulthood the potential residual effects of social isolation on behavioral changes. To draw a holistic picture of the situation at hand, I went on a quest through different disciplines to test my hypothesis's credibility. First, I examined historical events by following adolescents who lived in similar circumstances. I was looking for helpful trajectories that can be implemented in the current situation to detect any common behavioral patterns. Unable to find a satisfying answer, I have come, through this research, to realize that the question I was asking is complicated and not readily open to historical comparison. By visiting the neurodevelopmental literature, I learned that social isolation could cause a hormonal and neurological imbalance that may shift from a goal-oriented to a habit-like behavior. Equipped with this knowledge, I ventured next into the world of psychology. I aimed to learn from human development theories and to draw a trajectory of the potential long-term damage on the cohort in question. With the abundance of information, I worked on testing and adapting my initial hypothesis. This took me also, inevitably, into issues related to the context where adolescents would normally reside for much of their day: school. I also realized that my interdisciplinary quest was missing a significant factor: social media. I started my research on social media expecting to confirm the negative effect of long hours of exposure to social media, only to be pulled into a complicated, potentially helpful, and useful virtual world that I barely knew. I realized that I could not apply my knowledge as an adult to the age group in question because, practically, many of them are living through the pandemic in a different world: the virtual world.

Improving the Sales Training Program in the Mexican Notebook Company “Cuadernos Estrella”
Fall 2021
Author:
Andrea Bohorquez Fiano
Supervisor:

The purpose of this research is to devise a new learning strategy to train the sales workforce of the Mexican notebook company “Cuadernos Estrella.” The goal of the Human Resources (HR) department of the company is to standardize the existing in-person sales training program and develop a novel online training for 2022. Therefore, this research presents an extensive literature exploration of capacity development, adult learning theory, performance-based learning models, sales training basics, and virtual and blended learning in order to devise an optimal learning strategy for the company. I conclude by providing a range of best practices and recommendations on sales training, as well as a roadmap with a work plan to develop a blended learning strategy for the sales training in 2022. Building primarily on the ADDIE (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement and Evaluate) model, the roadmap includes actionable next steps for the HR department to enhance the existing sales program. Since the purpose of this research is merely theoretical, the roadmap focuses on the first two phases of the model: analysis and design. My research aims to inform the HR department on best practices for future training development and contribute to enhancing the overall sales operations of the company.

Fatal Automobile Crashes in North Carolina: A Historical and Present-Day Portrait of Grief
Spring 2021
Author:
Leanora Minai

**Designated as an Exemplary Master's Project for 2020-2021**

Between 1899 and 2018, nearly 3.8 million people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes on roadways in the United States. An average of 100 people died in wrecks every day in the country in 2018. There are names and faces behind the figures, but the catastrophic toll of the automobile has become normalized, dismissed as an expected consequence that comes with the symbol of freedom. This study explores the ways in which bereaved people cope and maintain bonds through practices and remembrance objects after losing a loved one in a fatal automobile crash. Through in-depth interviews with nine family members in North Carolina, and an illustrative sampling of individual and community grief expression following passenger car deaths over the past century, an original portrait is offered of the personal aftermath of deadly car crashes in North Carolina. This work is set in the broader historical context of the rise of the motor car in the United States, where significant automobile safety advances did not arrive until the late 1960s. By drawing on archival collections, as well as photographic material and historical newspaper accounts, this project offers a unique view of an area of research that has received little or insufficient study.

The World of Eurydice
Spring 2021
Author:
Suiyuan Jin
Supervisor:

A creative project with an exhibition as its final presentation, my graduation project is a series of explorations of people trapped in private space, memory, and daily prayer psychology under the epidemic situation. My project consists of two parts. The first part, including drawings on paper and a foam sculpture, is the construction of the hell of memory, which explores the relationship between mourning and consumption. The second part is about the relationship between human spiritual desires and everyday objects. It is mainly an installation work, including some paintings, sculptures, and a short film played by a projector. Through the transformation and sanctifying of everyday objects, I explore the early witchcraft consciousness of human prayer rituals, restore religion and witchcraft rituals to the original prayer paradigm, and suggest the metaphorical connection between private apartment space and the closed spiritual world of individuals under the epidemic.

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