Graduate Liberal Studies

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The capstone requirement of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies degree in the Graduate Liberal Studies Program is the Master’s Project. Drawing on the skills and knowledge acquired from coursework, each student designs – in consultation with a supervising professor – an independent project that is personally and academically meaningful. The Master’s Project, which includes but is not limited to written analysis, may involve academic research, applied research or creative work. This collection was created in 2014, and capstone projects completed before that time are not hosted in DukeSpace.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 185
  • ItemOpen Access
    The Entrepreneurial Blueprint – Unravelling the Relationship of Personality Traits, Cognitive Strategies, and Entrepreneurial Behavior
    (2023-12) Sieber, Jakob
    Despite its omnipresence in everyday life and economic importance, entrepreneurship remains largely disregarded in academic inquiries of cognitive and behavioral processes. This project seeks to provide a comprehensive yet concise inquiry into the different psychological facets that shape entrepreneurship. It offers valuable insights for educators, policymakers, investors, and entrepreneurs themselves, aiming to foster a more supportive and effective environment for entrepreneurial endeavors. It begins by outlining the implications of personality for entrepreneurship unravelling the convoluted literature on the predictive qualities of personality in entrepreneurship. It then shifts its focus towards the implications of Judgmental Decision Theory (JDM) for the field. After evaluating Daniel Kahneman’s System 1 and 2 theory and its practical implications for entrepreneurship, the project concludes by collecting empirical evidence for the distinct ways in which entrepreneurs think and make choices. Specifically, it tests the ability of entrepreneurs to successfully overcome intuitive choices in a Cognitive Reflection Test (CRT) and measuring their overconfidence (i.e., overestimation) compared to MBA candidates.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Beyond the Towers: September 11, 2001 Watching the Past & Present to Understand the Surveilled Future
    (2023-12-22) Shubrick, Jordyn
    September 11, 2023, marked twenty-two years since the tragedy of 9/11. In this project, I examine the stories that are told and remembered to date about the September 11 attacks on the United States of America and the subsequent events that followed. After the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were tragically attacked on September 11, 2001, many media outlets began highlighting the significance of the attack, capturing the magnitude of the events. This project will look at what is memorialized, remembered, and cemented across the 22 years in our social memory of 9/11. I will further explore what is rooted in politics and memorials, shaped through the media. Through the historical narrative of celebrations of 9/11, looking at memory, memorialization, fear, and what lies ahead for the surveilled future ultimately assesses the forever remembrance of 9/11 in media and memorials and how memory operates to influence Americans' view of safety.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Me, Myself, and I: Understanding Identity Denial of Multiethnic and Multiracial People in White Settings
    (2023-03-12) Maksud, Samantha
    How people identify themselves and the reasons behind self-identification are important in understanding the human experience and interactions in social groups. Understanding how people navigate their identity when denied access to multiple identity groups they inherently belong to is equally as important. This is known as “Identity Denial.” Identity denial is a type of social threat to acceptance that occurs when an individual goes unrecognized by a group to which they belong. This typically happens when the individual does not resemble a prototypical member of the group. I theorize that Identity Denial contributes to how multi-ethnic individuals navigate their identity in predominantly white social settings. In this project, I synthesize secondary research focusing on the four main chapters of identity denial, identity switching, negotiation of identity, and belonging in social groups.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Inequality, Resistance, and Reparations: A Step Towards Justice for Puerto Rico
    (2023-05-10) González Buonomo, Tatiana
    This project examines how Puerto Rico’s history has been shaped by colonialism, specifically through the construction of structural inequality from the 16th century until today. It analyzes how the Spanish colonization established social inequality through many mechanisms, including othering, the privileging of whiteness, the systematic erasure of Blackness, slavery, and the influence of the Church. Other historical moments to be highlighted are the notable events of rebellion performed by both the enslaved and the free population. These efforts of resistance were continued by three Puerto Rican feminists: Lola Rodríguez de Tió, Luisa Capetillo, and Julia de Burgos, through their lives and literary contributions. Structural inequality became further entrenched with the United States’ colonization, and I focus on the Foraker Law, the Maritime Merchant Act, the Ponce massacre, the birth control experiments, the occupation of Vieques, and the differential response to Hurricane María to show how the U.S. has benefited from and continues to harm the Puerto Rican population. In this project, I argue that there is a case to be made for reparations in which the United States acknowledges, redresses, and apologizes for the harms and atrocities committed to the Puerto Rican people. Instances in which the U.S. exploited Puerto Rico are not the exception to the rule; they reflect a pattern. I made these observations through a survey of the available scholarly literature, articles, and a literature review of the only work which posits a preliminary framework for reparations conducted by Pedro A. Malavet. My project addresses a huge gap in the literature, since the only scholarly article regarding reparations for Puerto Rico was published in 2002. Through a program for reparations, Puerto Ricans could balance structural inequalities and take a step towards justice.
  • ItemOpen Access
    We Want To Live (Asé)
    (2023) Wallace, Toya
    Abstract As a creative project with an exhibition as its final exposition, my Master’s project is a series of charcoal drawings, mixed-media drawings, mixed-media paintings, original essays, newspaper articles, sculptures, and poetry protesting the frequent senseless killings of unarmed Black people in America. (Also included, is a copy of a personal letter from former United States senator Richard Burr). My Master’s Thesis project was inspired in part by one of my ancestors, my Great-Great-Great Grandfather, Mr. Samuel Nathaniel Nuckles, an activist, a formerly enslaved person, and a former member of The South Carolina House of Representatives from the years 1868 to 1872. (Grant 260, 533) Additionally, inspiration for this project evolved from my own experience with unnecessary/unwarranted police brutality, at the hands of South Carolina police, from which I was fortunate enough to survive. However, as history has shown us, this is not always the fate for other unarmed Black people and their encounters with police officers. Currently, we see a rash of killings of unarmed Black people. My goal is to do whatever I can to aid in bringing an end to this unfortunate chaotic trend. Therefore, I create protest artwork and protest poetry not only because the senseless killings of unarmed Black people must stop, but I also create protest artwork and protest poetry because “We Want To Live (Asé).” Asé is a term from the Yoruba language of West Africa, it is a philosophical concept representing power that makes things happen and produces change. My graduation project exhibition time: April 17, 2023 Exhibition Space: The Fredric Jameson Gallery-Duke East Campus
  • ItemOpen Access
    Walking to a Place You Belong: Exploring the Impact of Walkability and Historical Factors on Durham’s Black Wall Street
    (2023-04) Goode, Alissa
    This project investigates the significance of walkability and historical factors, such as redlining, Jim Crow laws, and Durham's Urban Renewal Project, and their impact on the emergence and demise of Durham's Black Wall Street. Additionally, the study examines how these factors contributed to fostering a sense of community and pride within the Black community in Durham. The study utilizes a GIS-based analysis and a GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Story Map that includes historical maps and directories from Durham to visualize and analyze the spatial distribution of businesses and community resources in the Black Wall Street area. The study's results suggest that walkability played a crucial role in the success of Black Wall Street and that historical factors, such as redlining and urban renewal, contributed to its decline. However, despite these challenges, the Black community in Durham fostered a strong sense of community and pride, which has continued to shape the city's culture and identity. Link to Part 2 ArcGIS Online Story Map:
  • ItemOpen Access
    (2024-02-29) Coleman, Douglass
    The beginning of the 21st century comes off as familiar, the remake of a violent and divisive time in our history. Like we are all on a slippery, rapidly accelerating slide into increasing civil strife, neighbor against neighbor. Political, economic, and racial differences feel like they create extreme world views which cannot coexist, especially in the United States. As a Black man, the world feels increasingly anti-Black. How can we make alliances, build coalitions, or create unity, if we do not trust each other’s intentions? For those of us who are believers in people, we have faith in a brighter day. I have utilized speculative fiction short stories to explore these issues. What if things got worse before they got better? What if the United States split apart, how would we rebuild and reorganize society? Speculative fiction can suggest some practices and visions of a possible future? My stories navigate a dystopian world, where characters reach toward a utopian reality. Speculative fiction can serve as practice, a trial to examine issues of division, alliance, and coalition, given the current, divisive historical moment. We have all had the conversation a thousand times: what is to be done with this world we live in? We can be better informed by utilizing the fictional exploration of real-world social challenges. This piece will serve as part of the unfinished conversation with my father, my friends, and those whom I would call allies.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The Gaze of the Other: Acknowledging Autofiction
    (2023-05-01) Frye, Tiffany
    Autofiction, an emerging subgenre of contemporary literary fiction, has received attention in the last fifteen years for its depiction of the author’s life in a so-called fictional context. There are many viewpoints arguing for what makes something autofiction, but they tend to revolve around the level of factual truth contained in the work. This project argues that the question of how much a work of autofiction resembles an author’s life has critics and readers stuck in an unhelpful picture of what autofiction is. Importantly, this picture obscures the type of response these works demand from the reader. This project argues that we can better understand autofiction by examining the philosophical concepts it brings to life. Through examining the works of two exemplars of autofiction, Rachel Cusk and Karl Ove Knausgaard, this project shows how concepts of subjectivity, acknowledgement, and a rejection of skepticism combine in autofiction to steer away from a way of thinking rooted in narrative and towards something new.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Can Chinese Tourists Support Nature-Based Tourism?
    (2022-11) Xu, Di
    Nature-based tourism is an important form of tourism, which uses natural resources as the basis for the development of tourism projects and attracts tourists to watch or interact with nature for the purpose of relaxation, education, and pleasure. Since China is now the largest single source of tourists for the world’s tourism industry, understanding Chinese tourists’ perception of nature and their behaviors and preferences when participating in nature-based tourism is helpful for the further development of nature-based tourism. This paper first reviews the theories created by Chinese literati on the relationship between humans and nature and their development in history, then analyzes Chinese tourists’ use, attitudes, and feedback on natural attractions through direct and indirect measures. Then this paper uses SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis to explore the advantages and disadvantages of developing nature-based tourism in China, and finally proposes policy recommendations based on the above research.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Realism in Ancient History Documentaries
    (2022-11-23) Yu, Jie
    This project focuses on the representation of realism in ancient history documentaries. While documentaries are often distinguished from fictional films for the general public by their intimate connection to reality and their strong persuasiveness, the fictional component of documentaries is higher than spectators’ expectations. Compared to other types of documentaries, the time and space distance between the producers of ancient history documentaries and the original material leads to the problem that ancient history documentaries face a greater challenge in authenticity. In order to seek the documentary mission of recording reality and to bring it closer to spectators’ expected authenticity, exploring the issue from the perspective of realistic expressions in ancient history documentaries is meaningful. Therefore, by combining theory and practice, based on realism-related theories, this project explores the expressive techniques in ancient history documentaries and provides examples and reflections on theoretical practice in filming experience. This project proposes the impossibility of restoring reality in films and emphasizes that the realism in ancient history documentaries should be pursued with a belief in the way of conducting a ritual. The results are evaluations of the realistic tendency of the commonly used expression techniques in ancient history documentaries and confirm the importance of research investments and filmmakers’ commitment during practice.
  • ItemEmbargo
    An Interpretive History of the Lower Deep River Region, NC
    (2022-04-15) Wicker, Cole W.
    How can interpreting the regional history of the lower Deep River region of North Carolina inform land conservation for future generational use, education, and recreation? I explore the Lower Deep River Region, NC, and its mining heritage in hopes of understanding how land conservation efforts can use interpretive history as a guiding framework. With the approval of a regional state trail, ever expanding public parks, and the threat of impending commercial development, the region sits at the precipice of change. In the paper, I examine the region's past, including its indigenous and early histories, as well as its coal mining and industrial heritage, and I contextualize these stories alongside available interpretive resources. I explore themes of race and labor in a temporal and spatial manner as a guiding methodical framework. Using historic maps and spatial sources, I reconstruct the Deep River’s history and bring the buried, lost, and disappearing past into the present. The river’s past informs how certain places, markers, or seemingly naturalized objects become integral in the regional conservation dialogue. In addition to the written component below, I include a website ( that allows the public to engage with the material at an individual pace.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Volleyball, but Make it Sexy: Mediated Representations of Female Athletes
    (2022-05-06) Rosseland-Harrison, Frances
    The female athlete experience is complicated and beautiful. Women were long excluded from the world of sport and looked at as “masculine” when they did compete. To combat this fear of seeing “less feminine” women, sport organizers and mass media overcompensated; now we see sportswomen wearing less. This trend is especially evident in my own sport of volleyball. By examining the evolution of the beach volleyball uniform and media representation of the sport, I hope to map patterns that can be tracked in other female sports. I will call on frameworks established by researchers Linda Fuller, Paul Davis, and Janet Fink to help us understand how meaningful differences in media coverage of female athletics shape consumption of female sports and impact the female athletes themselves. To situate the work in context, I will provide a historical perspective on female athletics, looking at the rise of popular media and its impact on women’s sports. When sex is used to sell sports, female athletes become pawns in an unwinnable game.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Co-location Opportunities for Dynamic Use of Existing and Proposed School Buildings
    (2022-04-13) Etin, Bozhena
    We have, on average, 1,098 to 2,168 annual school closures per year. That means thousands of school buildings need to be repurposed every year or they will stand vacant, become vandalized, and bring blight and a sense of abandonment to their neighborhoods. However, at the same time, there is an ever-growing need for affordable housing, community centers, meeting and workspaces, childcare facilities, parks and recreation areas, and other community spaces that can be accommodated within these structures. In this paper, I analyze the typology of the school building through history, and through some notable examples, demonstrate how school buildings can be adapted to other uses in the community. I also present examples of schools and community spaces sharing common buildings and the unique opportunities this co-location provides for the students as well as community members. The ultimate takeaway for this paper is to show that a school building is not just a place we send our kids to get an education. It can and should be a place for all people in the community to feel a part of and welcomed
  • ItemEmbargo
    Preparing for Widowhood - While Your Husband is Still Living
    (2022-07-11) Rose, Jill
    Research on widowhood challenges has suggested that married women, with unhealthy husbands, should consider preparing in advance for widowhood. However, many women might have an easier transition into widowhood if some preparation tasks or actions are completed while married. What is often overlooked is that these widowhood challenges exist, and that married women can either prepare for them while married or react to them when widowed. Analyzing the transcripts from 70 interviews that were conducted over three months, the results of this study show that there are opportunities and benefits for married women to prepare in advance for widowhood for known widowhood challenges. Some of these preparation tasks and actions are similar to the interventions that widows utilize to overcome the widowhood challenges they encounter. My primary and secondary research findings complement the literature on widowhood challenges, potential widowhood interventions, and how married women might prepare in advance for widowhood while their husbands are still living.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Singularity, Solidarity, and Gender France 1945-1997
    (2022-03) Wharton, Elisabeth
    This paper examines how French Philosopher Mona Ozouf’s theory of French Singularity answers for the state of French feminism at the end of the 20th century. It also examines the historical and moral gaps in this theory and offers social solidarity as an alternative lens through which to understand the theory. Chapter One provides a historical explanation of Ozouf’s response to American feminists’ critique of the French women’s movement. Ozouf attributes the French women’s movement’s relative quiescence after 1945 to the fact that French women benefited from a legacy of female power that existed during the Ancien Régime as well as France’s legacy of social (sexual) mixing. After the French Revolution, Ozouf points to educational privileges (thanks to Rousseau) advanced in service of Republican motherhood that French women enjoyed, making French women’s experience of womanhood superior to that of women in the rest of Europe or the United States. Chapters Two and Three survey Claire Duchen’s historical challenge to Ozouf’s singular representation of the women’s movement in postwar France. This includes longstanding campaigns for legislative removal of laws limiting women’s marital and reproductive rights that laid the groundwork for reforms in the late 1960s and 1970s. Chapter Two also examines internal conflicts between Lacanian Psychanalyse et Politique and the rest of the French second wave women’s movement. Chapter Four proposes an interpretation of French Singularity through Sally Scholz’s theoretical framework of solidarity and demonstrates how French Singularity, once detached from its problematic underpinnings and understood through the lens of social solidarity, stands as a useful historical explanation of French gender relations in the 1990s.
  • ItemOpen Access
    I Knew Home When I Saw it: Mapping RaMell Ross’s Hale County This Morning, This Evening
    (2022-05-06) Reeves, David
    This project consists of two parts: 1) an initial, written analysis of Hale County This Morning, This Evening, a 2018 documentary of my home county (Hale County, Alabama) by filmmaker (and former public school coach) RaMell Ross, exploring details of the film through RaMell Ross’s own words, in interviews, about his style, through my personal experiences of the area through research of historical context, and close readings of particular scenes in the film. And 2) an interactive map that offers a deeper understanding of the area, the people, and important places Ross features in the film, drawing on all of the work for part 1 and on an interview between the author and the documentary filmmaker himself. The audio of this interview is included in a separate file. This second part, the story map with visuals and audio, is my most important contribution, the first being detailed research towards, and also an introduction to, the interactive map. Part 2:
  • ItemOpen Access
    Improving the Sales Training Program in the Mexican Notebook Company “Cuadernos Estrella”
    (2022-01-07) Bohorquez Fiano, Andrea
    The purpose of this research is to devise a new learning strategy to train the sales workforce of the Mexican notebook company “Cuadernos Estrella.” The goal of the Human Resources (HR) department of the company is to standardize the existing in-person sales training program and develop a novel online training for 2022. Therefore, this research presents an extensive literature exploration of capacity development, adult learning theory, performance-based learning models, sales training basics, and virtual and blended learning in order to devise an optimal learning strategy for the company. I conclude by providing a range of best practices and recommendations on sales training, as well as a roadmap with a work plan to develop a blended learning strategy for the sales training in 2022. Building primarily on the ADDIE (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement and Evaluate) model, the roadmap includes actionable next steps for the HR department to enhance the existing sales program. Since the purpose of this research is merely theoretical, the roadmap focuses on the first two phases of the model: analysis and design. My research aims to inform the HR department on best practices for future training development and contribute to enhancing the overall sales operations of the company.
  • ItemOpen Access
    The Effect of Social Isolation on Adolescents During COVID-19
    (2021-04) Malki, Lana
    My initial hypothesis was that adolescents may carry into adulthood the potential residual effects of social isolation on behavioral changes. To draw a holistic picture of the situation at hand, I went on a quest through different disciplines to test my hypothesis's credibility. First, I examined historical events by following adolescents who lived in similar circumstances. I was looking for helpful trajectories that can be implemented in the current situation to detect any common behavioral patterns. Unable to find a satisfying answer, I have come, through this research, to realize that the question I was asking is complicated and not readily open to historical comparison. By visiting the neurodevelopmental literature, I learned that social isolation could cause a hormonal and neurological imbalance that may shift from a goal-oriented to a habit-like behavior. Equipped with this knowledge, I ventured next into the world of psychology. I aimed to learn from human development theories and to draw a trajectory of the potential long-term damage on the cohort in question. With the abundance of information, I worked on testing and adapting my initial hypothesis. This took me also, inevitably, into issues related to the context where adolescents would normally reside for much of their day: school. I also realized that my interdisciplinary quest was missing a significant factor: social media. I started my research on social media expecting to confirm the negative effect of long hours of exposure to social media, only to be pulled into a complicated, potentially helpful, and useful virtual world that I barely knew. I realized that I could not apply my knowledge as an adult to the age group in question because, practically, many of them are living through the pandemic in a different world: the virtual world.
  • ItemOpen Access
    Opportunity Zones: Potential Economic and Community Impacts in Durham and Johnston Counties, North Carolina
    (2021-11-19) Delgado, Randy
    The 2017 Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act included a provision for creating "Opportunity Zones" to spur investment in disadvantaged communities. The Act provided that funds invested in these zones (plus an additional amount of "new money") will enable investors to postpone taxes on capital gains from other investments, and also reduce their tax rate if the investment is kept for more than ten years. What is the possible economic and social impact of these Opportunity Zones both nationally and in North Carolina? This paper reviews hundreds of investment funds and projects that have been created to channel private capital into Opportunity Zones. It then looks at zones in Durham County (7 zones) and in Johnston County, North Carolina (4 zones). In Johnston County the opportunity tracts will likely attract investors seeking market-rate returns, result in more temporary economic impact and little to no social impact. In Durham County the opportunity tracts will likely attract investors seeking equitable development and have the potential to achieve longer term social impacts. It will be important to consider how the Opportunity Zone program interacts with other government subsidies (e.g., New Market Tax Credits) available to investors.
  • ItemEmbargo
    Fatal Automobile Crashes in North Carolina: A Historical and Present-Day Portrait of Grief
    (2021-07-26) Minai, Leanora
    Between 1899 and 2018, nearly 3.8 million people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes on roadways in the United States. An average of 100 people died in wrecks every day in the country in 2018. There are names and faces behind the figures, but the catastrophic toll of the automobile has become normalized, dismissed as an expected consequence that comes with the symbol of freedom. This study explores the ways in which bereaved people cope and maintain bonds through practices and remembrance objects after losing a loved one in a fatal automobile crash. Through in-depth interviews with nine family members in North Carolina, and an illustrative sampling of individual and community grief expression following passenger car deaths over the past century, an original portrait is offered of the personal aftermath of deadly car crashes in North Carolina. This work is set in the broader historical context of the rise of the motor car in the United States, where significant automobile safety advances did not arrive until the late 1960s. By drawing on archival collections, as well as photographic material and historical newspaper accounts, this project offers a unique view of an area of research that has received little or insufficient study.