Senior Kara Foley wins top undergraduate research prize
Kara Foley, a senior majoring in international
relations and policy studies, won the Maxwell School’s annual Ben and Marcia
Baldanza Prize for top undergraduate research paper, as part of the School’s
annual efforts to recognize exemplary undergraduate research.
Xinzhi Lin, a senior history and international
relations major, was awarded an honorable mention for his research paper.
And Francine D’Amico, teaching professor of international
relations, received the Ben and Marcia Baldanza Faculty Advisor of the Year
The student awards are presented annually as
part of Maxwell’s Celebration of Undergraduate Scholarship, ordinarily held in
the late spring semester. A faculty committee decides the winner. Scott Landes,
assistant professor of sociology, chaired this year’s committee, and was joined
by Christiane Pagé, associate director in the Center for Qualitative and
Multi-Method Inquiry, and Robert Wilson, associate professor of geography.
Foley, who is from Scotch Plains, New Jersey, won
the prize for her paper “Voluntourism in Guatemala: Harmful or Helpful?” The
paper, her honors thesis in international relations, assesses the ethics and
efficacy of Western volunteer tourism, or “voluntourism.” The research involved
interviews with students, teachers, and volunteers at a school in Santa Maria
de Jesus, Guatemala, where Foley had previously volunteered as an English
teacher. She determined that, if communication is consistent and transparent
and volunteer work occurs with a long-term focus, outside volunteers can
ethically work with these communities. Foley is also a recent recipient of a
“Best Delegate” award at the National Model United Nations Conference. She
plans to return to Maxwell this fall as an MPA student.
Lin, a senior history and international
relations major from Flushing, New York, received the honorable mention for his
paper “Two Sons of Heaven: Senior Emperors and the Dual Emperorship of the Song
Dynasty.” This research, completed as part of Lin’s history degree, examines
the causes and consequences of senior emperors, of whom there were a
disproportionate number during the Song Dynasty. The title “senior emperor” was
given to a retired Chinese emperor, and awarded only 22 times in more than two
millennia of Chinese imperial history. Lin found that the designation helped
ensure smooth succession and minimize political interference from actors
outside of the imperial family. Lin will soon begin his doctoral studies in
history at Columbia University.
D’Amico is Maxwell’s director of undergraduate
studies in international relations, and advised Foley’s project. Previously, D’Amico
was named Syracuse University’s Outstanding Faculty Advisor of the Year (2010-11)
and Sigma Iota Rho’s Outstanding Faculty Advisor of the Year (2011-12). She
received a Meredith Teaching Recognition Award for Excellence in Teaching from
Syracuse University in 2017-18.
These awards are supported by a 2018 gift from
Ben ’84 BA (Econ/PSt) and Marcia Baldanza, given to support undergraduate
scholarship at Maxwell, and underwriting the annual Celebration of
Undergraduate Scholarship. Ben Baldanza has spent more than 35 years in the
airline industry, including as the president and CEO of Spirit Airlines (2005-16).
Marcia Baldanza, who graduated from Syracuse University’s School of Education
and currently serves as a member of the school’s Board of Visitors, is a senior
consultant with Just ASK Publications and Professional Development.
“We both gained so much from our experiences
as undergraduates at Syracuse University, and still rely on many of the things
we learned during those times,” they stated. “We are very happy that we can
support future undergraduate scholarship, and we’re both impressed and
delighted with the excellence we saw in this year’s winners!”