Summer Scholars

The Tufts Summer Scholars program funds rising juniors and seniors to pursue ten-week independent research projects during summer break. Students work closely with a faculty mentor and at the end of the summer, they compile their research to share at a two-day conference on campus and create a poster to present at a poster session in the fall. Summer Scholars then present the next stage of their research at the Undergraduate Research Symposium in the spring. Often, the summer project will culminate in one's senior honors thesis. Summer Scholars receive housing stipends and a $1000 research budget to use until they graduate. 

Learn more about the Summer Scholars Program

Summer 2021

Brendan Hartnett
"The Liberal Oligarch: Understanding the Persistence of Liberal Democracy in the Czech Republic under Prime Minister Babiš
Faculty Mentor: David Art

Amidst democratic backsliding throughout the Visegrád region, the Czech Republic stands out in an outlier. While Prime Minister Babiš was assumed to usher competitive authoritarianism into the Czech Republic, as evident by his party’s loss in the 2021 Parliamentary Election which disposed him from the office, this did not occur. I investigate why Babiš did not attack the institutions of Czech’s liberal democracy through a comparative perspective. I find that liberal democracy remained because in contrast to Hungary’s Orbán and the Polish ruling party, Babiš never posed a threat to liberal democracy, and instead was simply a corrupt oligarch who ultimately respected democracy. This study provides a basis for assessing threats to liberal democracy, in which a politician’s commitment to and respect for liberal democracy, as well as their desires to concentrate power, is fundamental in determining the risk they pose to the system.

Summer 2020

Josh Hochberg
"The Political Preferences of Activist CEOs"
Faculty Mentor: Eitan Hersh

Recent scholarship on the political preferences and behaviors of CEOs report that CEOs hold conservative political views and that these views influence both their firms’ and employees’ behavior. Most recently, Chatterji and Toffel (2019) suggest CEOs are just as effective as politicians at shaping public opinion. Yet, little is known about the CEOs most likely to influence public opinion by issuing public statements. I hypothesize that although most CEOs hold Republican preferences, CEO activism has a Democratic tilt, whereby CEOs who are Democrats engage in it more often than CEOs who are Republicans. Using Bonica’s CF scores, self-collected data on CEO activism, and in-depth case studies, I find strong evidence to support my hypothesis. Additionally, I find that CEO activism frequency is significantly influenced by a CEO’s partisan preferences and not the characteristics associated with investment in other forms of corporate political activity (CPA), confirming recent suggestions that CEO activism is distinct from CPA. My findings provide insight into the ideology of the CEOs most likely to be influencing public opinion by making public statements and contradicts the perceived homogeneity of CEOs’ political preferences.

Summer 2018

Lilly Blumenthal, A '21
"Natural Resources, Democracy, and Public Opinion in Africa"
Major: International Relations
Faculty Mentor: Nimah Mazaheri

This project examines how the legacy of oil and mineral dependence has affected the political attitudes of ordinary citizens in African nations. It analyzes a wealth of public opinion data collected by the Afrobarometer project regarding questions about citizens' attitudes about governance and policymaking, economic conditions, democracy, and related topics.

Summer 2017

Misha Linnehan, A'18
"Political Partisanship and the Ultimate Attribution Error"
Major: Political Science & Psychology
Faculty Mentor: Deborah Schildkraut

The thesis examines the ways that partisanship biases how citizens make causal attributions for the actions of politicians, incorporating an experiment conducted by Misha to test his hypothesis about partisanship and attributional biases.

Muna Mohamed, A'19
"Defining Somali Identity Through Media and Narrative"
Major: Political Science
Faculty Mentor: Natalie Masuoka

After taking Immigration Policy with Professor Masuoka, Muna went on to explore Somali identity as it pertains to race, faith, and immigration status during Summer Scholars. She interviewed Somali women in Boston about how they conceptualize their identity, in addition to collecting photographs, videos, and audio recording to create a three-fold multimedia exhibit and thesis on Somali womanhood and identity.