Senior Thesis and Departmental Honors

A senior thesis is an extended original research project written under the supervision of a faculty adviser during the student’s senior year. Thesis projects are best suited for students who have an interest in exploring a specific question and/or a field of knowledge beyond their previous course work. Students may complete a senior thesis regardless of GPA; however, those students with a 3.7 GPA (or above) in their International Studies major coursework, and who complete a senior thesis, will be eligible for honors in International Studies. Theses completed for any of the major’s affiliated departments may be used to earn honors both in that departmental major and in International Studies.

Steps to complete a senior thesis:

  • Determine a topic of interest.
  • Find a faculty sponsor who is willing to supervise the thesis. Students may choose a faculty sponsor from any department affiliated with the International Studies Program, but the faculty sponsor must be a full-time Homewood faculty member and not from another division of Johns Hopkins (e.g., SAIS, Bloomberg School of Public Health, etc.)
  • Both a topic of interest and faculty sponsor should be solidified by the end of spring semester junior year. Failure to do so may make attempting a thesis impossible
  • Register for an Independent Study with the faculty sponsor (or other thesis course required by the faculty sponsor’s home department) in the fall semester.
  • In the spring semester, if the faculty sponsor feels that sufficient progress has been made, register for a second Independent Study with the faculty sponsor and/or other thesis course required by the faculty sponsor’s home department.
  • For students planning to graduate in December, the first Independent Study/thesis course should be taken in the spring semester of junior year and the second Independent Study/thesis course should be taken during your final semester of enrollment in the fall.

Students enrolled in one of the double major tracks are encouraged to follow the thesis guidelines for that track, which may differ from International Studies. Global Social Change and Development (sociology) students can find more information on the Arrighi Center website. World Politics and Global Governance (political science) students should register for AS.190.498 Thesis Colloquium during the fall semester.

The Robert Tucker Prize

The Tucker Prize is presented to the best international studies thesis in a given year and is named after the first director of the International Studies Program – Robert Warren Tucker (born August 25, 1924), Professor Emeritus of American Foreign Policy at the Johns Hopkins University, Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. Tucker received his B.S. from the United States Naval Academy in 1945 and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1949. He was co-editor of The National Interest from 1985 to 1990, and president of the Lehrman Institute from 1982 to 1987. He has published essays in Foreign Affairs, World Policy Journal, The National Interest, Harpers, and The New Republic. His 1977 book The Inequality of Nations is a highly skeptical analysis of the Third World’s efforts to redistribute power and wealth in the international system.

Past Winners


  • Nicole Kiker: “Uneven Temporalities: Climate Inaction and Segregated Time”
  • Valerie Xu: “Finding Space for Xingshaoshu (LGB) College Students in China”


  • Anthony Boutros: “Contentious Citizenship: Gender, Hegemony, and the Fight to Have Rights in Lebanon”
  • Sheng Zhang: “The Promised Land in China? The Largely Unknown Story of Efforts to Establish a Jewish Homeland in Yunnan Province during the Holocaust”


  • Ethan Greist: “Governance Ex Machina: The Chinese Communist Party’s Social Credit System”
  • Kacie Wuthrich: “Trafficking Along the Belt and Road: Potential Effects of Chinese Infrastructure Projects on Drug Smuggling in Central Asia”


  • Kristi Rhead: “The Art of Vivre Ensemble: Establishing Tolerance through Space and Practice in Marseille, France”
  • Lisa Xiao: “Private Sector Development in Rural China: Entrepreneurship in Multi-Ethnic Yunnan”


  • Flora Fan Fei: “China’s Popular Sovereignty: Rethinking Nationalism, Sovereignty, and Chinese Foreign Policy”
  • Corey Payne: “Chaos and Class Struggle: The Limits of Inequality in the Long Twentieth Century”


  • DeAnna Lee Pope: “Governing eMoney: On Bitcoin and Global Governance”
  • Olivia Seidman: “Sustainable Cities, Social Cohesion and Climate Change: A Brazilian Case Study”


  • Alexandre Mason-Sharma: “Foundations of Order: The Police Role in Political Centralization and the Future of the State”


  • Gauri Wagle: “An Exploration of the Sovereign and the Sacred”


  • Archibald S. Henry: “National Identity Reconstruction and War Making in Post Genocide Rwanda”


  • Chris Mirasola: “Resolving Grievances in Rural China: A Local Analysis of Changing Perspectives on and Processes for Addressing Issues in the Countryside”


  • Claire Cravero: “The Crisis of the Republican Nomad: The Tziganes in Contemporary France”


  • Jake Meth: “Evolution Through Revolution: The Story of Religious Nationalism’s Expropriation of the Revolutionary Zionist Tradition”


  • Michael Goodwin: “A Path to Nationhood? The Valesco State, Sendero Luminosos, and the Construction of the Peruvian Political Imaginary”


  • Jamen Tyler: “Muslim Problem or Problem with Muslims? Perception and the Integration of Muslim Immigrants in Britain, Germany, and the Netherlands”


  • Sunyoung Park: “The ‘Rational Brinkmanship’ of North Korea: A Possible Overture to the Resolutions of the North Korean Nuclear Crisis”
  • Maytal Saltiel: “A Child’s Return: The Social Reintegration of Child Soldiers in Mozambique”


  • Sam Seunghyo Baek: “Toward the Democratization of North Korea: The Politics of Refugees”
  • Michelle Browne: “Breaking the Cycle of Child Soldiers: An Analysis of How Sierra Leone Intends to Destroy the Cradles that Raised Child Soldiers”


  • Brooke Neuman: “Splitting the Difference: An Assessment of Partition as a Solution to Conflict”


  • Rebecca Nelson: “The Art of Political Economy: Credit Rating Agencies and State Sovereignty”


  • Nicole Nucelli: “A Europe of Patries or Nations? Ethnonationalism, France, Europe”
  • Suman Sureshababu: “Micro-Finance in Africa: A Question of Sustainability”


  • Louisa McClintock: “The Legacies of Collaboration: The Presence of the Past in Modern-Day Germany and France”


  • Jessica Shapiro: “Politics of Humanitarianism”
  • Josephine Valencia: “Spiritual Forces: Religious Pluralism in West Africa”


  • Pia Sha: “Journey Over a Night: Transglobal Rave Culture at the Turn of the Millennium”
  • Shelley Fairweather: “Food, Fun, and Foreign Affairs: The International Relations of American Popular Culture in Europe”