Congratulations to the Class of 2022!

Departmental News

Posted:  May 20, 2022 - 03:15pm

Information about POLS graduation 2022

On Friday, May 13th, 2022, the department of political science celebrated its undergraduate, MA, and PhD graduates at the UNM Continuing Education Center. Roughly 150 guests were in attendance to celebrate the achievements of this graduating class, with Dr. Peter Kierst delivering the commencement speech, and graduate Mariposa Childson serving as class speaker. 

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We'd like to extend our most sincere congratulations to all graduates of the class of 2022! 
The full program is available here: Political Science Graduation Program 2022

The department of political science would like to specifically congratulate Dr. Anna Calasanti-Laws who completed her PhD (thesis title and citation below). Dr. Calasanti-Laws will join the faculty at the Keough School of Global Affairs at the University of Notre Dame as a post-doc in the fall of 2022.

"Women’s Property Ownership and Empowerment in Latin America"

In most of the world, women’s opportunities to thrive and live with dignity are constrained by discriminatory social norms, uneven enforcement of the law, and economic dependence on male family members. Women’s unequal social position often renders them vulnerable to violence and reduces their ability to participate in decision making, even on issues that are crucial for their own lives such as health care.

Calasanti’s PhD thesis explores mechanisms that have the potential to reverse women’s subordinate social positions. She hypothesizes that when women own homes, land, and other property, these assets endow them with more power to make decisions and to escape violence.

Calasanti tests this approach using survey data from three Latin American countries with high levels of social inequality, histories of civil conflict, and where the situation of many women, especially poor women, has been precarious: Colombia, Guatemala, and Honduras. Through rigorous statistical analysis, she finds that owning a home—on their own or jointly with a partner—is associated with women’s greater decision-making power, lower vulnerability to violence, and lower levels of marital coercion.

Her important finding is that access to property is a major lever to increase women’s bargaining power and foster change in norms. Property also helps reduce experiences of violence. Calasanti’s work offers empirical evidence to validate and further guide the efforts of governments and activists in their efforts to advance women’s equality. We need more research like Calasanti’s superb study to expand our understanding of the possibilities and challenges to achieve better lives for women.

Committee: Mala Htun (co-chair), William Stanley (co-chair), Jami Nelson-Nunez, Tamara Kay, Jo-Marie Burt