Abstract- Board Games and Political Theory

I want to demonstrate the relationship between international relations theory and strategy board games. To accomplish this task, I will create a comprehensive catalog of international relations concepts and terms by referencing summaries of international relations theory in relevant journals and books. This catalog will be arranged (to the greatest extent possible) in the form of a cladogram for the purpose of organizational simplicity. I will then use this catalog to code several of the most popular American strategy board games for associated IR theory concepts. Summaries of how each board game fits into international relations theory will be written based on the attributes they are assigned within the catalog. I will then use the cataloged games to explore new and innovative ways to incorporate strategy board games into the classroom. I want to do this research because it ties together my interest in international relations and my longtime passion for strategy board games. My goal is to use something tangible and fun, like board games, to explain abstract concepts that are often difficult to understand. I find this project exciting because I would be solving a problem (the task of understanding the myriad IR theory concepts) creatively, through something that I love—board games. Some examples of concepts that I believe would be easier to teach and learn through board games are: 1) The Implications of Anarchy, 2) The Effects of Power Distribution on the International System, and 3) The Logic of Deterrence.

Abstract: the influence of clerks on opinions

I  will be studying the amount of influence Supreme Court clerks have on the opinions of the justices they serve under. I hope to determine how much of an opinion is written by the justice and how much of it is the clerk’s own writing. Clerks are a significant part of the judicial system. They are found at nearly every level, serving under judges in order to give them more time to hear cases, rather than writing and filing smaller items 0f paperwork. However, even this smaller work can be legally complicated, such as drafting opinions that the court will issue or successfully comprehending a legal document being dictated by a judge, so many clerks, especially in higher courts, are either completing or have completed law school. As a result, they have their own thoughts on how rulings might be made. I mentioned earlier that they might be called upon to draft opinions. In the Supreme Court, many justices are old enough or frustrated enough that there are rumors that their clerks may not only draft their opinions, they may entirely write them. The possibility of shadow justices serving without consent of the Senate and without appointment by the president under aging, inexperienced, or disinterested justices is very interesting to me. There is a great deal of controversy surrounding bureaucratic discretion in the executive branch when it comes to enforcement of federal laws, but it is often taken for granted the judicial branch is run entirely by trusted and validated judges. If I can find a connection between opinions supposedly written by the most intellectual judges in the country and works written by their clerks, I could then conclude that the justice department too had its fair share of bureaucratic decision makers. The research I am proposing will, for reasons of time, only cover one or two clerks under an especially disengaged justice, such as Justice Thurgood Marshall during his later years of disinterest in the Court, or Justice Powell in 1971 during the period when he was too new to the bench to feel comfortable writing his own opinions in full.

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Abstract – Optimization of Tribe Pathways

With my freshman research project, I propose to create a program that will use data from the walkways on the William & Mary campus to calculate the shortest route from one point to another based off a set of conditions. These conditions will allow users to avoid specific paths per their limitations or desires. Examples of these conditions would be paths with stairways in them, unpaved walkways, or paths that go through forested areas. The program will allow students to select a starting point, an ending point, and to decide which kind of pathways they want to avoid or include before calculating the shortest path they can take based on the remaining walkways. To calculate the shortest route, I will be implementing Dijkstra’s Algorithm into python. This algorithm will calculate the optimal path on a graph of connected nodes based on distance. I hope to help students who are new to campus, those that cannot use stairways or other potentially difficult obstacles, or anyone who wishes to find a faster path to class.

Abstract: The Effect of Advertising Cost on the Variability of Appeal to Viewers in TV Commercials

TV commercials are generally considered nuisances at best, yet there are many people who tune in to the Super Bowl every year not for the sport, but for the ads.  As a result, the demand for advertisement space during the Super Bowl is enormous, driving the price of airtime up sharply.  Companies often use this opportunity to reach a large portion of the U.S. population to unveil a new product or ad campaign during their 15 or 30 seconds.  Most of the time, however, commercials are run only during TV shows with similar target audiences to the company buying airtime.  Ads are targeted at middle aged men on daytime ESPN, and at DIYers on HGTV.  This research will attempt to quantify the increase in variety when the price of ad space increases.