Thesis Topics from the Class of 2015-2017

As part of the Willy Brandt School curriculum, every student must write a master thesis during his or her fourth semester. The master thesis serves as the final requirement before graduation, proving that each scholar can produce an academic research study in the field of public policy, with limited time. The thesis, often is, and should be treated as, the launching point for scholars into their desired field of work or study. The unique and fascinating aspect of public policy is not only that the possibilities of study are endless, but also the range of specializations is wide. Here is a small glance into the research fields and study interests of the Willy Brandt School class of 2015-2017.

“My thesis topic is “Food Waste Reduction: Solutions for Russia in Comparison with Germany.” I decided to focus on food waste in my thesis already after my internship at FAO Liaison Office in Moscow last summer. Almost every article on this topic starts with the hideous statistics that globally around one third of produced food is lost or wasted. It also means that the resources to make this food, including pressure on land, water, and CO2 emissions, were used absolutely in vain. Evidently, something should be done to stop it. For comparison, I chose my home country, where the food waste problem is not still in the political agenda, and Germany that offers some interesting solutions, however still can do more in this direction. It is an interesting topic for me as an MPP student as well, because I need to analyze the existing policies, find major stakeholders, and offer recommendations. This challenging exercise demands an application of the knowledge we received during our program.”

                                                                                        – Ekaterina Galaktionova

“To put my core idea of thesis into two key themes, it would be local benefits from decentralized energy sources and local renewable energy policy. What motivates me to work on this field was my last internship. During the period, I could learn about renewable energy policy in practical field and industrial trend of renewable energy, specifically wind energy. My question was whether this phenomenon of energy transition to renewable energy helps local community in cities or provinces that were poorly or less developed. Back to policy field, I wondered how local or state level of renewable policies can form the renewable energy market, where the profits are reasonably distributed into local communities. Yet, I have contemplated how to structure the whole picture of thesis topic and bring a meaningful conclusion at the end, which the supervisor as well as my fellow students have helped me out.”

                                                                        -Soojung Oh

“Influenced and fascinated by my internship with the U.S. Department of Commerce at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, I chose to write my thesis on the topic of “U.S. efforts in Attracting Foreign Direct Investment” in the context of German multinational firms seeking to invest in the United Staes. More specifically, my thesis seeks to discover: (1) what the main challenges German firms are experiencing when investing in the United States and (2) how are the current federal investment promotion efforts addressing these issues. To answer these questions, two theoretical frameworks are being evaluated: determinants of foreign direct investment and the functions of an investment promotion agency. The transatlantic relationship between Germany and the United States is one of great importance, especially in terms of trade and investment. Seeing as the U.S. investment promotion agency was only established in 2011 under the Obama Administration, it is significant to evaluate the program, figure out its strengths and weaknesses and offer policy recommendations to the current Trump Administration.”

                                                                                 -Kaitlyn McKay

“My thesis consists of an evaluation of the impact on job creation and income increase of 31 value chain projects financed by the Swiss Development Cooperation. The choice of this topic resulted from my work with GOPA Consultants and my desire to undertake a career in the development consulting field. After my internship, I continued working for GOPA on a meta-analysis of projects funded by the Swiss donors. Because of the availability of projects’ documents and the possibility to write my thesis with an external client, I seized the opportunity to analyze more deeply the value chain projects, which are currently very popular among donors. My contribution is the elaboration of impact models showing the links between different value chain strategies and the achievement of either job creation or income increase. The main purpose is to develop a framework that donors can use to tailor more effectively the interventions to their desired goals.”

                                                                                    -Cecilia Del Prete

“Since 2012, tens of thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America’s Northern Triangle have been apprehended at the southern U.S. border, creating one of the world’s greatest contemporary refugee crises. This sudden surge in child refugees largely caught policy makers by surprise, and thus I decided to investigate the underlying causes driving this dramatic mass movement of children. Focusing specifically on El Salvador, my research examines the unique role gang violence plays in the forced displacement of children and youth, and to what extent gang violence is behind the contemporary migration of children and youth from El Salvador to the United States. Understanding why children are migrating from El Salvador has important policy implications as it determines what legal protections they are entitled to upon arrival in the United States and current U.S. immigration policy has proven ineffective at appropriately addressing this unique crisis.”

                                                                                    -Morgan Courtney

“My topic concerns the rhetoric and leadership style of Donald Trump during the 2016 U.S. Presidential Campaign. The election of this candidate set a precedent in the United States, in that he is the first person to be elected to the highest governmental post without ever having held public office or a high-ranking military position. A billionaire, celebrity and outspoken individual, Mr. Trump is often considered a controversial figure; this remained so on the campaign trail. I posit that he utilized an authoritarian leadership style- with certain rhetorical tactics being used to promote this style. I explore what kinds of factors prove conducive to this type of leadership approach, discuss this in the context of the U.S., and describe how Trump successfully connected with a necessary portion of the electorate.”

                                                                                    -Jury Paulson


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Kaitlyn McKay is a second year Master of Public Policy student at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from San Diego State University. Her specializations are International Affairs and Public and Nonprofit Management. As a part of the blog editing team, she is responsible for proofreading and editing as well as coordinating the contributions.