Undergraduate Research Symposium

Each year the Department of Romance Studies (with co-sponsorship by Trinity Research Enhancement) presents an Undergraduate Research Symposium on the theme of ‘Old Worlds, New Worlds, Future Worlds.' The symposium provides an outlet for the outstanding research produced by students in Romance Studies courses, and is an important means by which the department fosters an active culture of research and exchange among students and faculty. 

Department of Romance Studies 13th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium - 2024

Old Worlds, New Worlds, Future Worlds 

Friday, March 22, 2024 
Holsti-Anderson, Rm 153 Rubenstein Library

8:30 – 8:55 Pastries & Coffee Buffet (Saladelia)

8:55 – 9:00 Welcome and Introductory Remarks    Laura Florand, DUS, Dept. of Romance Studies

9:00 – 9:45 Society and Self

Moderator: Deborah Jenson, Respondent: Barbara Ofosu-Somuah

Colby Cheshire               Social Identity in 19th Century French Literature

Balraj Dhanoa                 Fields of Dreams and Opioid Chai: Shedding Light on Sikh Slavery in Italy 

Madeleine Reinhard     Godard and Painting: Creating the Musée Imaginaire of the Still-Alive

9:45 – 10:30 Ethics and Power in Relationships

Moderator: Anne-Gaëlle Saliot, Respondent: Anna-Paden Carson

Sofia Bliss-Carrascosa   It’s because of you that I reacted this way: the impact of maternal figures on young                                                    women's self-image and eating disorders

Harper Wilkinson          Calvino e il discorso post-umano: una rilettura di Il Cavaliere inesistente

Angelli Garibaldi            We Talk Money: Language and Money in Don Quixote 

10:30 Break 

10:45 – 11:30 Intersections and Representations of Gender and Ethnicity

Moderator: Sarah Quesada, Respondents: Saskia Ziolkowski, Michaelle Vilmont

Jacob Carnes              Homosexual and Jewish Identities Intertwined in Italy

Aayushi Patel             Construction of Gender Identity through the Discourse of French Decadence Literature 

Christina Liang           Women Through Godard’s Lens: An Evolution of Portrayal from the 1960s to 1980s

11:30 – 12:15 Narratives of Trauma and Survival

Moderator: Gustavo Furtado, Respondent: Barbara Halla 

Madison Johns        Oppression and Evolving Identities in Italian Literature: Jewish Characters in Contemporary Novels

Arielle Stern              A Zone of Shadow (Une Zone d’Ombre ): Godard, Montage, and the Irrepresentability of the Holocaust

Brianna Cellini         The butterfly's broken wing: the contemporary concept of identity metamorphosis through the lens of neurotrauma patients' narratives

12:15 Lunch Buffet (Bouquet Garni)

12:30 – 1:00 Poster Session

Facilitators: Jose Maria Rodriguez Garcia, Joan Clifford, Sandy Valnes Quammen

Sancia Milton                                A Chivalric Script

Athmika Krishnan                       The Children of Salinas: Uncovering the                                                                       Impacts of Quiet Chemical Warfare

Rosa Golchin              Deliberative Approaches to Climate Change                                                   Policy: A Case Study of The French Citizens Climate Convention

Clare Sobolewski                     The Pilgrimage of Life

Alejandra Mella-Velazquez        Prevalence and Preferences in Care-seeking                            Behaviors Among Hispanics – Disparities in PatientDecision-making


1:00 Closing Remarks    Elvira Vilches, DUS, Dept. of Romance Studies


Department of Romance Studies 14th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium

Panels, Abstracts, and Bios

Friday, March 22, 2024




Society and Self

Moderator: Deborah Jenson

Respondent: Barbara Ofosu-Somuah


Colby Cheshire               What Is a State? The Sonderbund War and Swiss National Identity From a French Perspective

Abstract: The “Long 19th Century” was a time of many serious political and social upheavals in France punctuated by frequent changes in governmental and social structure. The turbulence of the period, a time of widespread industrialization, emerging ideas of nationalism, and radical challenges to established authority, is reflected in its literature. How did those hailing from outside of Paris adapt to its increasingly bourgeois nature? How were compromises negotiated between those seeking a return to empire or even the Ancien Régime and radical reformers seeking the establishment of an egalitarian Republic? What were the impacts of these challenges on cultural moors? In this presentation, I will begin to answer these questions through period literature and discursive analysis grounded in their historical, political, and cultural context.

Bio: Colby is a senior studying biology and French from Mont Belvieu, Texas. He has previously worked in research laboratories at Duke, the University of Michigan Medical School, and the University of California San Francisco. He is most interested in French political history and tradition and France’s role in continental geopolitics. Outside of class, Colby enjoys reading, cooking, and discovering new coffee shops in Durham.

Balraj Dhanoa                Fields of Dreams and Opioid Chai: Shedding Light on Sikh Slavery in Italy 

Abstract: The Sikh community in Italy, despite consisting of well over 200,000 individuals, remains largely invisible to the public eye. Through this presentation, I aim to shed light on the history, subculture, and quest for justice of the Sikh Diaspora in Italy. Most Italian Sikhs are settled in rural farms throughout the country, where agriculture is not just a profession, but a way of life. As a member of a Sikh farming family, I have personally witnessed the deep-rooted passion and dedication that Sikh Kisaans, or farmers, have for agriculture during my summer trips to my village in the northern Indian region of Punjab.  Back in India, Sikh Kisaans continue to fight for equitable pay under the Indian Farmers Protest, the largest one in Indian history. In hopes of escaping these conditions and sending money home to relatives, Italian Sikhs are surprised when they face exploitation, inhumane accommodations, and outright denial of pay. These laborers become trapped in Italian farms and are unable to seek justice due to language barriers and fraudulent schemes that involve members of their own community.

Bio: Balraj Singh Dhanoa is a fourth-year undergraduate pre-medical student interested in pediatric medicine. His journey with the Romance Studies Department began during the first semester of his sophomore year in Professor Laura Bilanceri's Italian 101 class. The unique sense of community this class fostered led him to take Italian coursework each subsequent semester at Duke. From delving deep into the regional sociolinguistics of Italy with Professor Luciana Fellin to researching immigrant health outcomes at the Reception Center of Lampedusa at the University of Oxford, each semester of his coursework has given him a distinct perspective on Italian language and culture. A semifinalist for the Fulbright Scholarship in Italy, Balraj looks forward to applying these insights as an English Teaching Assistant in Southern Italy.

Madeleine Reinhard     Godard and Painting: Creating the Musée Imaginaire of the Still-Alive

Abstract: If cinema is a product of a prior era, then director Jean-Luc Godard is a historian. Through film, Godard confronts the unsettled spirit of the nineteenth century, which, in a frenzy of urbanization and industrialization, was never truly processed. By including paintings in his films, Godard leans into the twentieth century notion of abstract to construct his own history, or musée imaginaire, through montage. In so, he reclaims the vision of abstract art that places paintings in dialogue with each other, thus simultaneously reconciling painting’s absence in the post-French Revolution historical canon and challenging history itself.

This presentation focuses on Passion and Histoire(s) du cinéma, Chapitre 3(a) : La Monnaie de l’absolu. In both, Godard uses painting–specifically the artistic movements of modernity and the avant garde–to challenge how we perceive history and confront our own failure to understand what we see and consume.

In Godard’s eyes, « Le passé n’est jamais mort. Il n’est même passé », so he uses painting to make sense of the past–the dead–and bring it back to life. This presentation explores Godard’s use of painting in his cinema to reconcile history and the history of art, past and present.

Bio: Madeleine Reinhard is a senior from Rumson, New Jersey, double majoring in Economics and French Studies, with a certificate in Markets & Management Studies. On campus, she serves on the executive board of the Duke Association for Business Oriented Women, and she is a research assistant and on the student advisory committee for the Duke Economic Analytics Laboratory. Madeleine has had a strong interest in French since a young age and spent part of her gap year studying and interning in Paris, France, further reaffirming her love of the French language and culture. During her junior fall, she had the opportunity to study in Paris with Duke in France/EDUCO, where she particularly enjoyed taking two art history courses and experiencing Paris’ rich cultural history. After graduation, Madeleine will work in consulting in New York City, with later goals to work abroad and engage with art in a professional setting.




Ethics and Power in Relationships

Moderator: Anne-Gaëlle Saliot

Respondent: Anna-Paden Carson


Sofia Bliss-Carrascosa  It’s because of you that I reacted this way: the impact of maternal figures on young                                women's self-image and eating disorders

Abstract: For my final project in the Symptom and Synthesis course, I wrote a comparative analysis of a literary text, Ourika, Claire de Duras, 1823, and a contemporary biographical text, Ce matin j'ai décidé d'arrêter de manger, Justine, 2008. The essay focuses on how social commentary and external feedback is integrated into the eating disorders of the each works’ adolescent protagonist. In particular, I focus on the impacts of comments made by Ourika and Justine's mothers, real or adoptive. They are both very affected by negative statements made by their maternal role models towards them, to the point where these comments are eventually integrated into the psychology of their disorders. The analysis is based on this question: what similarities are expressed between these narrators in relation to the effects of their "mother's" perceptions on their self-image, particularly with regard to their relationship to food and the body?

Bio: Sofia is a Junior majoring in Public Policy and minoring in Journalism and Media Studies. She has focused her undergraduate career on the effects of misinformation and the health of media ecosystems, especially as emerging technologies change the ways we consume information. A native Spanish and English speaker, French is her third language.


Harper Wilkinson          Calvino e il discorso post-umano: una rilettura di Il Cavaliere inesistente

Abstract: Serenella Iovino's thesis, "Storie dell’Altro Mondo," explores post-human discourse through the lens of Italo Calvino's works. Her critical essay delves into the fluid narratives of human and non-human entities, challenging traditional definitions of human identity. Taking inspiration from her work, this essay specially examines how Calvino’s  “Il Cavaliere Inesistente" serves as a post-human narrative, questioning anthropocentric perspectives and emphasizing the multifaceted nature of human identity. The protagonist, Agilulfo, becomes a focal point in examining the post-human concept. His identity is not confined solely to the physical; rather, it is rooted in ideals, morals, and ethics. Other characters, including Agilulfo’s squire Gurdulù, contribute to the post-human discourse by exemplifying the fluidity and complexity of relationships between humans and non-humans. The relationship between Agilulfo and Gurdulù highlights the dichotomy between rigid human perspectives and the more malleable, imaginative qualities that contribute to a comprehensive understanding of human identity. This essay contributes to the broader discourse on post-humanism, emphasizing the importance of reevaluating the human definition to acknowledge interconnectedness with other forms of existence.

Bio: My name is Harper Wilkinson, and I am a graduating senior at Duke university. I perused a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry, as well as an Italian minor. I first became interested in Italian language and culture my freshman year, and my unique interests in Italian led me to study abroad at Venice International University through Duke in Venice. While I was abroad, I became highly fascinated with Italian history, the Renaissance, and literature. I wanted to learn more about Italian culture through literature and art, as well as increase my cultural competency and language skills. When I came back from my semester abroad, I took Major Italian Authors with Dr. Driscoll to learn more about the history of Italy. The class focused on authors such Ariosto and Calvino, and this essay was the final cumulation of topics we discussed. My experience with research and reading primary Italian texts fostered a great interest in renaissance literature and authors, so I decided to pursue an Independent study with her, specifically focusing on women's writing.


Angelli Garibaldi            We Talk Money: Language and Money in Don Quixote

Abstract:  We use language and money to communicate and understand each other. I apply Michel Aglietta’s theories on money to analyze the dynamics within the novel Don Quixote by Cervantes. My research compares language vs. money in three different ways. Aglietta’s first argument is that money creates value because it’s a norm known by everyone. I explore the character of Don Quixote and argue that Cervantes built two different worlds—one world being aware of the use of money and the other world without the knowledge of it—allowing for this particular character to shift perspectives throughout the novel. His second argument is that money has its own logic and nobody questions it. He believes that the logic of money is a mode of exchange and received if it isn’t sent anonymously. I delve into the complex relationship between Zoraida and the captive to demonstrate the validity of Aglietta’s reasoning. Lastly, Aglietta proposes that money doesn’t have value on its own, but the concept of money is what makes it worth it. We see how money facilitates diverse acquisitions, ranging from books to freedom. It is the use of money that makes it valuable because it becomes a form of communication for us.

Bio: Angelli Garibaldi, currently in her sophomore year at Duke University, has distinguished herself with a full-ride scholarship. Angelli is passionately pursuing her academic interests in English and Romance Studies. She is actively involved in the Duke Equestrian Team, Synergy Dance Company, Duke Catholic Center, Penny Pilgram George Women's Leadership Initiative, and Tavola Italiana.







Intersections and Representations of Gender and Ethnicity

Moderator: Sarah Quesada

Respondents: Saskia Ziolkowski, Michaelle Vilmont


Jacob Carnes             Homosexual and Jewish Identities Intertwined in Italy

Abstract: How we identify ourselves and what we identify with are foundational to life. Italy is known for its strong Catholic roots and its continuous connections to Catholic traditions. Yet many people who do not fit into the norms of a strongly Catholic nation call Italy home. This research covers Jewish and homosexual identities in Italy. Judaism has a long history in Italy and Jews are considered an “ancient minority” in Italy. This delegation as a minority group, albeit one that stretches far into the past, has been and continues to be used to other the Jewish population of Italy. Alongside this, homosexuality is a common identifier that is used to other people. These identities, Jewish and homosexual, may seem unrelated, yet there are myriad literary works that combine these identities. This project looks at the novel Call Me by Your Name and analyzes this more contemporary work intermingling Jewish and homosexual identities in the context of older literary pieces that also highlight these identities in an Italian context.

Bio: Jacob is a Senior from Kansas City, Kansas, majoring in Italian and Environmental Science, with a focus on global climate change. Jacob started his journey with Romance Studies by learning Spanish in Elementary to High School. During his time at Duke, he studied abroad in Venice, Italy, furthering his study of Italian language and culture. He looks forward to graduating at the end of this semester.


Aayushi Patel            Construction of Gender Identity through the Discourse of French Decadence Literature 

Abstract: For my final research project in Professor Jenson’s Symptom and Synthesis course, I chose to analyze a novel titled Monsieur Vénus (1884), written by the French Decadent writer Rachilde, through the lens of Judith Butler’s theory of gender performativity, as presented in her breakthrough work, Gender Trouble (1990), translated in French as Trouble du Genre.

My paper undertakes a close-read style analysis of Rachilde’s text. The highly provocative, perversive, and controversial subject matter of this decadent text invites in the reader to grapple with their own perspective on gender identity, rooted in their own contemporary cultural context, while following the story of its two protagonists, Raoule de Vénérade and Jacques Silvert, who have naturally subverted gender identities. By analyzing various literary elements of the text in the context of Judith Butler's theory of performativity, I show how Rachilde's work constitutes a counter-discourse to the dominant discourses that shaped the understanding of gender in the society of her time. I explore how Rachilde appropriates the decadent style for her own purposes, transforming her androcentric taste for perversion into a gynocentric critique of gender identities in society. She subverts, constructs, denaturalizes, and ultimately destroys gender. I find that the specific character of this story allows it to continually incites contradictory interpretation through time, which helps create gender trouble, in the Butlerian sense, within its pages.

My analysis is based on the following question: Literature, when considered as a form of Foucauldian discourse, shapes knowledge, just as knowledge shapes the content of its stories. What is the role of decadent literature in shaping medical conceptions of contemporary subjects such as gender identity?

Bio: Aayushi is a Junior from India, majoring in Computer Science with a minor in Literature. She is curious about learning about human motivation through literature and finding a path to apply that into building technological products that help solve various socio-economic issues. She is a native Gujarati, Hindi, and English Speaker. She has been learning French for several years now and has spent a few months abroad living in Toulouse and Paris.



Christina Liang          Women Through Godard’s Lens: An Evolution of Portrayal from the 1960s to 1980s

Abstract: It is often hard to discern whether director Jean-Luc Godard is satirizing female maltreatment in his films or subjecting women to those same gendered archetypes. In fact, Godard may be doing both—Godard’s 1960s films attempt to criticize the public treatment of women, but by presenting eroticized images of the female body without offering alternatives, he perpetuates said eroticized images. It is worth noting, however, that Godard’s 1980s films include alternative female truths and the implicate of men in their female maltreatment, helping Godard avoid the voyeuristic trap of his earlier films. This presentation investigates Jean-Luc Godard’s portrayal of women in films between the 60s and 80s, and how we might view this evolution through historical and feminist psychoanalytic perspectives. This presentation will primarily examine two of Godard’s works, Une femme mariée (1964) and Prénom Carmen (1983), through film critic Laura Mulvey’s psychoanalytic framework, while referencing the political context of the radicalism in the 60s and the aftermath in the 70s and 80s.

Bio: Christina Liang is a senior at Duke double-majoring in Statistical Science and French. She studied abroad at Sciences Po in Paris during junior fall semester, where she learned about French political history and philosophy. Since coming back from study abroad, she has taken a variety of French politics and literature courses and hopes to further her understanding of the language and various Francophone cultures in the future.







Narratives of Trauma and Survival

Moderator: Gustavo Furtado

Respondent: Barbara Halla


Madison Johns        Oppression and Evolving Identities in Italian Literature: Jewish Characters in    

             Contemporary Novels

Abstract: Oppression and hardships shift onto new victims in different generations, creating a new out-group. However, while society may forget the hardships they perpetrated on various groups, narratives within Igiaba Scego’s Adua point to a connection between characters of different backgrounds that faced oppression in Italy. In addition to Scego’s novel, this project will also explore the related oppression evident in Lia Levi’s The Jewish Husband, keeping in mind the different backgrounds of the two contemporary authors. Igiaba Scego is Italian, Somali, and Muslim, and Lia Levi is Jewish and Italian. The project will also analyze the reactions of different communities to these literatures while finally evaluating the impact literature has on public perception, considering for instance, earlier works such as Giorgio Bassani’s “A Plaque on Via Mazzini.” By exploring the roles of various characters within these texts and the reactions to their characterization, this project aims to shed light on the role of literature in influencing collective attitudes.

Bio: Madison is a Senior from Woodstock, Georgia, studying Environmental Science & Policy and Italian. Through her background as an executive member of Duke’s Chapter of NAACP and Duke’s Black Women’s Union, she frequently communicates with a diverse group of people with diverse stories to match. Italian also exposed her to heterogeneous themes, and she was excited to finally engage in a course that informed her of minority populations in Italy. She is graduating this upcoming May, and she is excited to use the knowledge she obtained to navigate her post-Duke career.


Arielle Stern             A Zone of Shadow (Une Zone d’Ombre ): Godard, Montage, and the Irrepresentability of

the Holocaust

Abstract: The horrors of the Holocaust are profoundly linked to the fact that we can never truly know them, they can never be seen. Cinema failed, according to filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, to fulfil its role, as it did not preserve the memory nor prevent the atrocities of WWII. Post-war filmmakers have had to contend with how to ethically depict the Holocaust, how to depict the obscure and uniquely horrifying through a visual medium. Some have refused the image entirely to acknowledge its erasure (“Shoah” director Claude Lanzmann), and others have credited the image with underscoring that something existed before the annihilation (poet Paul Célan). Godard takes a unique approach in his films Histoire(s) du cinema and Adieu au langage, using montage of archival footage within non-linear narratives to illuminate the Holocaust in its obscurity and horror. He balances exposition with irrepresentability, understanding the necessity of making visible the truth of the Holocaust while not denying that it is defined by absence. Like the four sole “Sonderkommando” photographs in existence that depict the events surrounding the gas chambers, Godard centers the negative space (the “zone of shadow” that renders the images unclear and shrouded in darkness) in his films (Didi-Huberman). For Godard, poetry and montage bridge the visible and the unseeable.

Bio: Arielle Stern is a junior double majoring in French and English with a particular focus on 20th century poetry and poetics. Arielle is a Romance Studies department ambassador, an editor for “The Archive” literary magazine, a writing consultant for Duke’s MFA cohort in dance, and a research assistant for a faculty member’s forthcoming book on the Sufi poet Rumi. In her free time, she enjoys skating with Duke’s club figure skating team and writing.


Brianna Cellini        The butterfly's broken wing: the contemporary concept of identity metamorphosis through

the lens of neurotrauma patients' narratives

Abstract: In Catherine Malabou’s The New Wounded : From Neurosis to Brain Damage (2007), the suffering that follows a senseless traumatic event–an accident–is theorized through a destructionist, neuroscientific lens. Centering her work on the lived experiences of brain lesions patients who are no longer recognizable to themselves or others, Malabou explores destructive neural plasticity as a driver for modern suffering: the indifference of the “soi” to its own annihilation. This project undertakes a translational analysis of Malabou’s theories to characterize identity metamorphosis among survivors of neurotraumatic events: embodied experiences where the circuitry extending from our brains to our toes is ruptured during the event and involved in the recovery process that follows. Using patient narratives and contemporary philosophy, as well as cellular and cognitive neuroscience, the following questions are undertaken: what are the physical and mental capacities that help us imagine and describe indescribable experiences? How does destructive plasticity drive identity metamorphosis following a neurotraumatic event? What is our responsibility for understanding this transformation from an interdisciplinary perspective?

Bio: Brianna Cellini is a graduating senior from Durham, North Carolina. This spring, she will obtain bachelors degrees in neuroscience and French, as well as a minor in chemistry. Undertaking scholarship and work experiences across France during her undergraduate career fostered Brianna’s passion for cross-cultural, interdisciplinary engagement. Having pursued neurobiology research in spinal cord injury and a number of health service opportunities in Durham and abroad, Brianna was inspired to explore her curiosity about the neural mechanisms of healing in the context of French literature and contemporary philosophy while completing an Honors Thesis. Brianna has dedicated her time at Duke towards understanding and optimizing rehabilitative patient care and hopes to continue this work after graduation, eventually completing a PhD. In her free time, Brianna enjoys figure skating and embarking on travel adventures with friends and family.




Poster Session

Facilitators: Jose Maria Rodriguez Garcia, Joan Clifford, Sandy Valnes Quammen



Sancia Milton                                A Chivalric Script

Abstract: This is a short script that I wrote as a final project in Professor Driscoll’s “Chivalric Imaginaries” Italian language class. Over the course of the semester, we read Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso as well as Italo Calvino’s novel, The Nonexistent Knight. In class discussions, we covered the similarities and differences in the cast, plotting, setting, and general themes between the pieces, and I decided to make a final creative project that further explored those discussions in a playful way. In a very short “copione,” I’ve placed the cast of Calvino’s and Ariosto’s books on a literal battlefield, pitted against one another, and I used this metaphor as an opportunity to explore the relationships between these two different sets of characters, and two different approaches to common themes. Through this little play, I’ve tried to identify the similarities and draw out the differences between two different generations of Italian literature, and to do so in a way that was entertaining and amusing for us, a generation even further in the future. I had so much fun exploring this rich world that Calvino and Ariosto have constructed, and I hope you enjoy it as well!

Bio: Sancia Milton is a Duke sophomore studying Biology and English, with a minor in Italian Studies. She is from San Diego, California, and in her free time she loves to read and write. After many years of saying she “would someday learn Italian,” she began taking Italian classes during her freshman year at Duke. She spent last summer in Bologna taking courses, exploring the city, and generally expanding her love for the language and culture. She is excited to be continuing her studies here in Durham.




Athmika Krishnan                        The Children of Salinas: Uncovering the Impacts of Quiet Chemical Warfare

Abstract:  The Salinas Valley, a prominent agricultural region in California, is home to a predominantly Latino immigrant community, facing systemic marginalization and health disparities. Pesticide exposure, a pervasive issue due to extensive agricultural activity, poses significant health risks to these vulnerable populations. Studies have linked pesticide exposure to various adverse health outcomes, including autoimmune disorders, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and epigenetic changes. Organophosphate and organochlorine compounds in pesticides induce epigenetic alterations, inhibit histone deacetylases, and promote DNA methyltransferase activity, leading to gene expression dysregulation and oxidative DNA damage. Additionally, pesticides disrupt endocrine signaling pathways, exacerbating metabolic, reproductive, and neurodevelopmental disorders. Addressing these issues requires collaborative efforts from policymakers, regulators, healthcare providers, and the agricultural industry to reduce pesticide exposure, improve occupational safety standards, and provide adequate healthcare and social support services to affected communities.

Bio: Athmika Krishnan is a first-year undergraduate student from Bangalore, India. Her interest in Spanish and the Latinx community was first sparked 6 years ago, by her middle school Spanish teacher, Alejandro Rivero Gasca. Studying as an international student in the linguistically diverse country India, Athmika was drawn to the intersection of language and culture. At Duke, she hopes to further this interest by studying how language and culture are transmitted to children through her Neuroscience major and Education and Spanish minors.



Rosa Golchin                                 Deliberative Approaches to Climate Change Policy: A Case Study of The French Citizens Climate Convention

Abstract: My research explores the challenges democracies face in handling the issue of climate change as a long-term, collective good. I chose to focus on France’s innovative approaches to climate change policy due to its history of activism, unique political structure, and recent surges in far-right candidates that have put pressure on the ruling party.

My project focuses specifically on the French Citizens Climate Convention (FCCC), an assembly established by President Macron of one hundred fifty French citizens, alongside environmental and legal experts, who were tasked with generating proposals to reduce domestic emissions by 40%. This experiment in deliberative democracy came in the wake of the Yellow Vest Protests and the associated upheaval. It gave citizens the essential job of transforming widely agreed-upon issues such as mitigating climate change into concrete policy proposals which were then presented to the National Assembly. My thesis explores the FCCC’s proposals and their legislative outcomes, as well as public opinion on the convention and the future of deliberative approaches to climate change policy formation.

Bio: I am a senior with an interdepartmental major in Earth and Climate Science and Biology, and a second major in Political Science. I am broadly interested in the ability for political institutions and non-governmental actors to advance equitable policies to mitigate climate change.









Poster Session (…continued)

Facilitators: Jose Maria Rodriguez Garcia, Joan Clifford, Sandy Valnes Quammen



Clare Sobolewski                         The Pilgrimage of Life

Abstract: “La peregrinación de la vida,” or “The Pilgrimage of Life,” depicts a reflection on life, in which bad memories are obscured by a curtain of happy memories at the mind’s forefront. This collage was inspired by the collages analyzed in class that took classic paintings and put modern twists on them for political commentary. The foundation of this collage came from Goya’s paintings “La pradera de San Isidro” and “La romería de San Isidro” and Pedro Salinas’ poem “Nadadera de Noche”. It was then filled in with pictures of the artist’s personal walk on the Camino de Santiago and her training for the Marine Corps Marathon. This collage depicts the journey of rising from depressive and melancholic thoughts, finding friends with shared life experiences, finding motivation in those friends, conquering challenges and making memories with them, then getting to the end of the journey, to a happy, elated state where only the glowing sunsets, stary skies, and sparkling sunrises are remembered. And where the encroaching shadows of dusk, the invasive coldness of a dark night, and the quickly encroaching responsibilities of the day are long forgotten.

Bio: The artist’s name is Clare Sobolewski. She is from Dover, Massachusetts. She is a senior double majoring in Political Science and International Comparative Studies with a minor in Spanish. She has pursued academic challenges through college including studying abroad and her ICS Capstone paper. In the spring of 2023, she studied abroad in Madrid and stayed with a host family, becoming proficient in Spanish. In the fall of 2023, she completed her ICS Capstone paper, “The Cultural Narrative: A 21st Century Study on American Foreign Policy: Reframing International Intervention.” She is in Navy ROTC and after graduation she will be commissioned into the Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer – Intelligence Option. She will serve for two years in the Surface Fleet before transitioning into Naval Intelligence for the next five years. After she gets out of the Navy, she would like to do something with the outdoors as she enjoys hiking, camping, running, golfing, skiing, and other sports.


Alejandra Mella-Velazquez        Prevalence and Preferences in Care-seeking Behaviors Among Hispanics –

Disparities in Patient Decision-making

Abstract:  This study investigates the frequency of Hispanics visiting healthcare providers (HCP), the difficulty of finding one, as well as the perceived importance of self-selecting a HCP and engaging in shared-decision making (SDM), particularly in comparison to other racial groups and based on participants’ socioeconomic status (SES). Two parallel online cross-sectional surveys assessed 1485 participants’ health behaviors and preferences. Statistically significant associations across racial groups and for participants’ SES were determined from Kruskal-Wallis and Mann-Whitney U tests run on SPSS Statistics. Comparing each racial minority group (i.e., Hispanics, Blacks, Asians)with Whites separately, Whites had the highest percentages in regularly seeing each HCP, expressed significantly higher importance with SDM (μ = 4.30, σ =0.828), and had an easier experience finding an HCP (μ = 3.57, σ =1.13) (one exception to Blacks). There were almost no significant differences in regularly seeing a HCP among racial minorities (except that Hispanics see a specialist more frequently than Asians). SES groups resulted in less significant differences than the comparisons across racial groups. This study demonstrates existing disparities in the way racial minorities seek care compared to Whites which in turn reinforces observed health disparities across races and the ultimate care received.

Bio: My name is Alejandra Mella-Velazquez, and I am an undergraduate senior originally from Puerto Rico but have lived in Orlando, Florida for the past ten years. At Duke I created my own major through Program II revolving around Hispanic health behaviors and disparities. I am on the pre-dental track and plan to go to dental school after graduation. Outside of school I enjoy cooking, exploring new places, and spending time with family and friends.