The Gardner Fellowship requires an independent research project with a faculty mentor in the spring semester. The fellowship year ends in an annual Policy Conference during the reading days in May. We have breakfast and lunch together and the Fellows generate poster presentations to summarize their research for fellows, alumni, faculty mentors, family, and other friends of the Gardner program.

Anti-Muslim Sentiment: The Czech Republic and India

Fellow: Nimah Bhura
Political leaders’ use of rhetoric, in the aftermath of a critical point, against specific minority groups drives a wedge between those groups and the majority population. A careful analysis of the effects of such rhetoric provides insights in understanding the motivating factors and effects of the resulting division, which can be applied to deconstruct the emergence and durability of anti-minority sentiment. First, I will focus on the definition of a critical point and its relation to... Read More

Charter Schools, School Choice, and the Students of Color Caught in Between

Fellow: Neha Saju
Charter schools are publicly financed but independently managed educational institutions. Since the adoption of the first charter school law in Minnesota in 1991, they have received considerable attention. However, since the administration of Donald J. Trump, and the appointment of his then Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the political tide surrounding charter schools has begun to shift. Understanding the charter school system in the United States, and analyzing the way that it impacts... Read More

Comparative Analysis of COVID-19 response in Germany and the United States

Fellow: Hamzah Shaikh
The United States and Germany are two high income nations with strong healthcare systems that differed quite significantly in pandemic outcomes. From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to March 1rst, 2021, The United States recorded nearly three times as many COVID cases per capita than Germany and nearly two times as many COVID deaths per capita. In my comparative analysis between the two countries, I examine differences in health demographics, healthcare delivery, mask mandates, testing... Read More

Curtailing Religious Liberties Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic from Indian High Courts

Fellow: Samarth Thakker
This project seeks to understand how government restrictions imposed during COVID-19- and more specifically judicial involvement of the Indian High Courts- impacted religious liberties in India. For this study I analyzed a number of judgements made by the courts that demonstrate how judicial authorities interpret the Government of India’s response to COVID-19 with respect to religious freedoms, how the courts influenced religious practices, and where the courts stand regarding the... Read More

Gendered Household Dynamic Amongst Refugees

Fellow: Amna Ahmed
The Syrian refugee crisis has become a critical site of research for migration and displacement scholars, yet the effects of gendered experiences of displacement must be expanded upon. Drawing from the experiences of Syrian refugees in Jordan, this paper explores how gendered household relationships are destabilized when refugee women represent the head of the household. The resulting analysis highlights how institutional and gendered hierarchies change for refugees based on their... Read More

Just Can’t Debt Enough: Monetary Sanctions and Criminal Justice Reform

Fellow: Marc Younker
This project examines the role of monetary sanctions in equity-centered criminal justice reform. Monetary sanctions have long been a critical part of the United States’ criminal justice system but have only recently been under the academic and social microscope to see how they affect individuals of different demographics. With social movements and popular culture bringing necessary attention to reforming practices of injustice in the court system—such as upending disparities in criminal... Read More

Representation through With How Representative Omar and Talib Construct Muslim Identity Online

Fellow: Ameena Qobrtay
Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are the first Muslim women to be elected to Congress. Media tropes against Muslim women limit Muslim women to being victims, terrorists, and un-Patriotic, denying Muslim women’s agencies. In my paper, I explore how Omar and Tlaib forge a new construction of Muslim identity by analyzing tweets during the time period of Jan 6 - Feb 6. My analysis looks at how these women use humor, break through social politeness, and are unafraid to show their... Read More

The Effect of Perceived Polarization on Voter Turnout

Fellow: Akansha Khurana
This investigation studied the question: can perceived polarization be maximized to elicit an optimal level of voter turnout? Polarization is defined as the extent to which the ideologies between parties and their members differ from each other. A certain level of polarization is not only inevitable but is also encouraged because it has positive effects on democracy, including fostering political participation, simplifying the voting process, and thus encouraging individuals to vote. However,... Read More

The Prosecutorial Discretion of Environmental Crime

Fellow: Sunzida Ahmed
Prosecutorial discretion has historically been the subject of acute scrutiny for both its breadth and unfettered authority in the criminal justice system. In the area of environmental law, this discretion is especially impactful given that the environmental regulatory system does little to distinguish between civil and criminal enforcement. Considering these concerns surrounding broad discretion and the vague regulatory system, this research intends to contextualize how environmental... Read More

The State of Our Union: Pro and Anti-Statist Presidential Rhetoric, 1932-2020

Fellow: Nikhil Sadaranganey
The Reagan administration is widely acknowledged as bringing about the official end of the New Deal Era and starting an anti-government movement in the United States. This generally accepted claim is a simplification of the ever-competing pro- and anti-statism ideologies that exist in very clear opposition to one another in the United States. Statism is the belief in the authority of the state, and those that identify as pro-state would advocate for the involvement of the state in social and... Read More

Understanding Price Transparency as Healthcare Pricing Reform

Fellow: Aparna Ragupathi
Price transparency as pricing reform in a fee-for-service healthcare system aims to empower consumers by providing cost information so that they can shop for low cost, high value care and drive providers to lower healthcare prices through free market competition. Price transparency was codified as the Transparency in Coverage federal rule in 2020 after a lengthy public comment period that collected feedback from stakeholders across the provider, payer, administrative, and patient populations... Read More

Vertical Farming and US Agriculture Climate Resilience

Fellow: Madison Roveda
Climate change is causing and will continue to cause extreme and unpredictable weather events that will threaten the agricultural industry and therefore the global food supply. Conventional agricultural practices are at the will of the climate, and do not provide any resilience to environmental changes. For the agricultural industry to become sustainable in the face of climate change, it will need to utilize practices that aid in climate resilience. An alternative practice, vertical farming,... Read More

Virtual Realities: Intersectional and Online Violence Against Women in Politics

Fellow: Cecilia Ritacco
Violence against women in politics is a concept that draws from political violence and gender- based violence literature, addresses their convergence, and posits that violence against women in politics represents a frequently occurring but underexplored phenomenon that may depress women’s political representation. The small but growing collection of violence against women in politics literature acknowledges that factors like race and ethnicity, as well as age and political ideology, may... Read More