Emma Borden

Class of 2015

Hometown: Ithaca, NY

What was your College Scholar project?
The title of my thesis – the final product of my College Scholar project – was “Anything But Bilateral: Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.” This project examined how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict factors into the foreign policies of Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia; it also examined how their foreign policies influence Israeli-Palestinian relations. My research and analysis were heavily informed by international relations theory, and various international relations schools of thought helped me construct and strengthen my arguments. The courses I took in the Departments of Government and Near Eastern Studies at Cornell were crucial to the evolution of my thesis. Freshman year, Govt 1817: Introduction to International Relations and Nes 2799: The Bible, the New Testament, and the Quran in Comparative Perspective were my favorite classes, and the lessons I learned in those courses and the curiosities that were sparked by Professor Katzenstein’s and Professor Brann’s instruction played a large role in shaping my thesis. 

What were your most important extra-curricular activities?
Dance is undoubtedly my most important extra-curricular activity. Through technique classes, rehearsals, performances, lectures, readings, and much more, I came to understand discipline in a way that was distinct from library research and essay writing. In the studio, not only my mind but also my body demand attention. In dance, I could devote all of my attention to something completely separate from my thesis work, which creates its own kind of exhaustion. The physicality of dance, its sensory and mental claims, offered a great relief from my time in the library. The rigor of dance is more multifaceted than that required by my other coursework, and therefore the demands of dance were a welcomed contrast to the demands of my other work.

Talk about any summer internships or programs you attended?
Last summer I interned at a large D.C.-based policy think tank. I was in the foreign policy program there, and my research focused on democracy and human rights promotion. I was constantly writing memos, attending conferences around the city and briefing my team on various political and social developments around the world. Although the position was definitely demanding, it made me all the more eager to return to school and write my senior thesis.

What are you doing now?
I am working as a research assistant at the Brookings Institution in the Center for Middle East Policy. I plan to return to graduate school in the next two years, for a degree in political science or in Middle East politics, and then to be in a position inside or outside the federal government in which I can contribute to U.S. foreign policymaking.