Students Present Research at the Capitol

Ursinus students presented posters this week in Harrisburg as part of Undergraduate Research at the Capitol. The themes of their presentations covered western media’s portrayal of Islamist terror and the Spanish banking crisis. “These types of events give our students a chance to showcase their research to a wider audience and receive feedback from individuals who would not normally be aware of their work,” said Ambassador (Ret.) Joseph H. Melrose Jr., who is a professor in the Politics and International Relations Department.  Melrose accompanied the students to Harrisburg. “By addressing and defending their work to a larger audience, it opens up networking opportunities and shines a spotlight on the work Ursinus students are doing.”

International Relations Students Present in HarrisburgKelsey Bullington-Hodge is an International Relations and History double major from Texas.  Her talk addressed the events of 9/11, and reflected her position that America has waged a physical and ideological war in the Middle East against Islamic militant organizations, like al-Qaeda, which perpetrate acts of terror. “Seen solely through the American lens, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that our Western European allies might see the Middle East through a different lens,” she said. “With a special focus on the evolution of relations from the 1998 Embassy Bombings through the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq in 2011, I hope to understand the nuances that distinguish American, French, and British perspectives of extremist terror organizations.  By examining media broadcasts, I will compare and contrast the American and Western relations with the Middle East and use this to form a hypothesis about the shape of future American-Middle Eastern relations.”

She is involved in a number of organizations on campus, from Residence Life to the Ursinus College Berman Museum of Art.  Bullington-Hodge is President of the Model United Nations team on campus and is planning to stay engaged with politics and foreign affairs when she graduates in May.  Her interest in her research began last year when she was studying abroad in France and spent every evening watching the news with her host family.  The difference of content in media broadcasts struck her and she decided to pursue this topic further.  Bullington-Hodge presented Radical vs. Rational:  Examining Western Media Portrayal of Islamist Terror.

Briana Anderson is a Business/Economics and Spanish double major from Fogelsville, PA. Her poster presentation is titled Is Geographic Diversification Associated with Increased Risk?:Evidence from the Spanish Banking Crisis. She is a Resident Advisor, Co-Chair of the Ursinus College Relay for Life, President of Colleges Against Cancer, and the House Manager for the Theater and Dance Department. Her interest in the Spanish Banking Crisis emerged during her study abroad experience in Madrid during 2011 as she witnessed first-hand the impact of rising unemployment on the Spanish economy and society. After graduation, Anderson hopes to enter the finance industry to gain practical experience before getting a Ph.D., in Finance or Economics. Briana intends to work abroad, in the future, with an international regulator such as the International Monetary Fund or European Central Bank.

“After the end of the Franco era in 1975, many Spanish savings banks, or cajas, gradually expanded their operations out of their home territories, opening branches throughout Spain,” said Anderson. “From 1999 to 2009 alone, cajas’ increased the number of branches outside their headquarters’ regions by 72.66 percent. During that period, certain areas of Spain, including Madrid, Barcelona, Murcia, Castellón, Valencia, Almería, and Cataluña experienced enormous influxes of construction projects, bringing in numerous construction workers, and thus increasing salaries and boosting the demand for homes and mortgages.” Anderson said using caja data from 2002 through 2011 from the Confederación Española de Cajas de Ahorros she intends to determine whether geographic diversification is associated with increased leverage and credit risk. She is also investigating the association between cultural differences among the Spanish regions and higher levels of risk.