Saumyaa Gupta was a 2023 Summer Research Intern with the Global Diversity Lab (GDL) at MIT’s Department of Political Science. This summer, she assisted graduate student Elizabeth Parker-Magyar on research projects related to Islamist parties, teachers’ activism, and refugees in Jordan and conducted an independent research project on protest movements and regime stability in Jordan. She is now a senior at Beloit College in Wisconsin, where she is majoring in Political Science and Psychology.

Which projects have you been working on during the GDL summer research program?

Saumyaa: I’ve been working with Elizabeth Parker-Magyar, looking at how and why Islamist parties contest elections in Jordan. We’re particularly interested in the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood and its political party the Islamic Action Front. For this project, we’ve been measuring support for the party by measuring support for Islamic charity institutions in different areas of the country. Another project I’ve been working on with Elizabeth is exploring the notion that refugees compete with the local population for resources, asking what impacts the influx of Syrian refugees to Jordan has had on the Jordanian population. I’ve been looking at school datasets, analyzing district level exam results and enrollment numbers for Jordanian and Syrian students to determine whether the presence of Syrian refugee students has impacted the exam results of Jordanian students. For my independent research project, I’m exploring why the Jordanian regime was able to maintain stability during the Arab Spring to a much greater extent than other Arab countries. I’m interested in the different outcomes of monarchies and republics during the Arab Spring, and the role of state concessions and repression in demobilizing protest movements. I studied abroad in Jordan during the Spring 2023 semester, and while I was there, I conducted interviews with government ministers and officials to better understand the cycles of protest, government concessions, and demobilization in Jordan. I’m planning to use this field research and the research I’ve conducted at GDL this summer to develop my political science honors thesis this academic year.

What have you learned through the GDL summer research program? What have been the best parts of the experience?

Saumyaa: This program has been a golden opportunity for me to learn more about what it means to do graduate-level research in political science. I’ve enhanced my quantitative skills and learned how to use different statistical measures and software. Most importantly, I’ve gained the persistence that’s necessary to conduct independence research and learned to think creatively to formulate hypotheses for research questions and collect and analyze data. The sense of community in the summer research program was a real highlight of my experience, from the lunch seminars and office hours with professors and graduate students where I got to learn about their current research topics to exploring Boston with my peers through off-campus trips.

What are your plans going forward?

Saumyaa: I will be writing my political science honors thesis this year, so I’m excited to continue developing the research on concessions and protest movements in Jordan that I’ve been working on this summer. I will also be applying to PhD programs in political science this fall!

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