Alexa Scalchunes: Religious Freedom in Post-Colonial Countries

My name is Alexa Scalchunes and I am a current second year student at FSU. I am an international affairs major and an economics minor, with a specific interest in international development. At Florida State, I have enjoyed taking classes in sociology, geography, and religion. Additionally, I have had amazing opportunities through the Global Scholars program, Honors program, and UROP, and now have the pleasure of being a GSA for the Global Scholars program. Outside of academics, however, I am interested in art, hiking, politics, and coffee (fun fact: I am currently working as a barista). Aside from my research this summer, I will also be participating in the TEFL certificate program at FSU and plan to work as an English language instructor after I graduate in December of this year. After my time at FSU, I hope to go to graduate school for international development, get involved in nonprofit work, and work towards my long term goal of becoming a professor and working in academia one day.

Recently, I began my Honors in the Major thesis with Professor Matthew Day as a way to explore some of my interests in the religion department. To find the topic of my research, I asked myself what topics I was interested and what I wanted to know about these topics. Through this, I came up with the question “What is the impact of democratic freedom on religious conflict in post-colonial countries”. I have been told this topic is a bit niche, however, it is a combination of government practices, religion, and international affairs that peaks my interest. Since starting my research with my director through a semester of guided study, I have already learned more about the topics that interest me and have a clear outline for my thesis and plan for my summer.

This summer, I plan to begin my research and make the most progress on my thesis as possible. Ideally, I will have a rough draft of my thesis by the end of the summer, however, this is a large goal and I may not have the finished draft until August or September, depending on how long my thesis is. For my research, I will be researching three case studies of religious conflict in post-colonial countries in India, Ireland, and Iran. For each case study, I will be analyzing the colonial histories and power structures left by colonialism, the functions of the post-colonial governments, democracy data, and the religious conflict at the time and in present day.

Additionally, I will be looking at specific “episodes” of conflict in each case study to examine how the governments impacted and reacted to these episodes. Ideally, I will be able to draw similarities between each study to look for trends in how democratic freedom and colonialism impacted these conflicts and power structures to answer my research question. My thesis outline is shown on the next page, however, this is subject to change as my research develops. This semester I have begun my research in small steps by researching colonialism for one of the case studies and finding sources to use this upcoming summer. At the very least, my goal is to finish each case study by July, which will be about 45 to60 pages of work. I plan to do this by working part time instead of full time to focus on my thesis each day and make it part of my routine at least 5 days a week. Because my thesis is an in depth analysis, I want to give myself as much time as possible for editing and review during my Fall semester before my defense.

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