Project Gives GWU Senior Opportunity to Expand Her Interest in Political Science Research

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Bethany Leap ’19, of Sarasota, Fla., Gains Confidence to Compete for Graduate School Programs

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—As a global studies senior at Gardner-Webb University, Bethany Leap has enjoyed the various courses required for her major. “I love that I am able to take classes from all disciplines, rather than being confined to one specific subject area,” she assessed. “I am able to learn about both domestic and international politics, history, economics, and statistics, providing me with a well-rounded education and the ability to explore all areas about which I am passionate.”

Leap, of Sarasota, Fla., was one of 13 GWU Undergraduate Research Scholars awarded a grant for focused research during a 2018 summer term. She chose to study the effects of long-term indiscriminate violence by rebel forces on the outcomes of intrastate armed conflicts (civil wars). Most of the current research on this topic centers around the government or state force’s use of indiscriminate violence, which puts civilians in harm’s way.

“I am in the process of using data analysis to sort through the sheer amount of data I have available thanks to the Peace Research Institution at Oslo (PRIO),” Leap shared. “I expect to find some relationship that will support my theory that long-term indiscriminate violence has a negative impact on the outcomes of civil war.”

Her mentor, Dr. Casey Delehanty, assistant professor of global studies, provided guidance while also allowing her the freedom to work out the problems she encountered. She plans to publish her findings in a political science journal, as well as present her paper in the spring at the Life of the Scholar Multidisciplinary Conference at Gardner-Webb and the Midwest Political Science Conference in Chicago, Ill.

After graduation in May, Leap plans to attend graduate school with the goal of obtaining her doctorate in political science. Her experience has given her the confidence to apply for competitive research-heavy graduate school programs. “This opportunity has solidified that I want to pursue a career in political science research, because it combines my passion for learning with my passion for politics,” she affirmed. “I view research as a way to influence policy decisions regarding my research interests.”

If you are interested in learning more about global studies and the Department of Social Sciences, click here.

Located in the North Carolina foothills, Gardner-Webb University is a private, Christian, liberal arts university that prepares students to become critical thinkers, effective leaders and compassionate servants in the global community. Emphasizing a strong student-centered experience and rigorous academics, Gardner-Webb is a place where Christian conviction meets intellectual freedom. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu.