Vitality of International Organizations




Associate Professor of Political Science

Project Summary

This summer, I held the position of undergraduate research assistant for Professor Julia Gray of the Political Science Department, on her project studying the performance and vitality of international organizations. I conducted time-series cross-sectional data analysis to generate metrics on the international organization I was assigned to, which, when completed, the professor will analyze and use to prove her theories on the performance and vitality of international organizations around the world, and through history. My specific obligations were concentrated around the North American Free Trade Agreement, or better known as NAFTA. I worked on the first decade of the organization, from when it was started in 1994, to the turn of the century, in 2000. I became a professional in the early activities of NAFTA and how international organizations work on the whole. Specifically, since I started working on it from when it was started, I got to observe how organizations develop and grow.  More specifically, I was able to observe how politics in individual member nations effect the activities of those organizations, and I was surprised by how large of an effect politics really had. Previously I saw international organizations as, in their own right, international governing bodies of their own, that set the policies of their member states. However, due to the decentralized nature of NAFTA, it proved to be quite the opposite. NAFTA was more of a reflection of all the desires of the member states, with a relatively passive influence on respective national policies.  Participating in this research project contributed to my educational experience by allowing me to apply the skills I learned my first semester to a concrete data set, and see firsthand how what I was studying applied to the real world. I was able to bring together my knowledge in economics, political science, and history to effectively analyze the data I was working with, which provided to be a very interesting and rewarding time to pass my summer.