Centre College Lincoln Scholar Me Me Khant ’20 recently presented at the 77th annual Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) conference, the largest political science conference in the U.S. that draws scholars from more than 50 countries.
Khant wrote a paper titled, “China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Catch-22 for the United States,” for Associate Professor of Politics and International Studies Dina Badie’s foreign policy course.
“The main thesis of the paper is how the U.S. faces a complex Catch-22 in dealing with China’s new belt and road initiative, which is Beijing’s new, highly ambitious endeavor to tie together the economic zones of Europe, Asia and Africa with China as the pivot,” Khant explained. “It details the immense scale of the initiative and its historical progression, as well as its objectives, risks and benefits surrounding its projects. Then, the paper argues that both the failure and success of the initiative entail significant economic, diplomatic and security challenges for Washington.”
Last summer, Khant worked at the European Union in Myanmar, where she learned a lot about the new belt and road initiative and how it’s affecting Myanmar through the China-Myanmar-Bangladesh economic corridor.
“Many claimed that the initiative was contributing to the civil war in the northern part of the country,” she said. “So, I researched a little bit about the project, and I was quite fascinated and enthralled by the colossal scale of it. Coming back from that summer, I really wanted to learn a lot more about it in my classes. When I had to identify today’s pressing foreign policy issue for my final project for the class, I just decided to go ahead with the belt and road initiative.”
As a Lincoln Scholar, Khant will complete a high-caliber summer experience, before the start of her senior year, that closely aligns with her major, potential career of graduate study or prestigious post-baccalaureate scholarship. The research she’s conducted on the belt and road initiative connects with her independent pre-professional project this summer.
Khant said it was an incredible experience working with Badie, as her comments and feedback on the paper were constructive and helpful.
“She was always willing to help, and through the process, she asked me a lot of critical questions that helped me analyze the topic from more diverse perspectives,” she added. “She really cares a lot about her students, and she is very encouraging, even beyond the scope of her classes. I just think she is an extremely remarkable professor, and, because of her, the entire process was a very thrilling learning experience.”
At the conference, Khant was able to see first-hand other research projects students are doing at other institutions. She was also able to network with other students who were working on the same topic as her and hear their perspectives.
“I think it is a great experience getting a glimpse of the work that scholars do in academia and how they network with each other,” she said. “I wish a lot more people from Centre would go to MPSA. I know many students do incredible research, and I think they could really show them off and get incredible feedback. For me, I definitely want to go there again next year.”
by Kerry Steinhofer
April 25, 2019