Katherine Konvitz

Project Title: Political Economy with a Concentration on the Near East

Project Description: My College Scholar Project will examine the modern day suitability of specific trade deals and economic relationships between the United States and Middle East countries given the potential reality of regional political and human rights crises with particular emphasis on Israel, Iran, and Saudi Arabia,. After WWI, the United States made its questionable footprint in the region, and has since developed an expansive and comprehensive network of oil, security, and technological partnerships. That being said, given that the region is a political powder keg, it is important to question to what extent we should remain economically involved in the region. I will study theoretical economics to better understand the financial motives behind the deals. I will simultaneously examine the political environment at the time these deals were made. From my project, I hope to gain a deeper understanding of to what extent the United States value sits economic stability. At what point will and should our country alter or abandon long-time economic agreements? Does American national security have to be in jeopardy to sever a partnership or will we use economic leverage as a tool to help others in need? Do we hold different standards for different countries? Why? It is imperative to note that I plan to engulf myself in Middle East culture, religion, and history courses to better-educate myself on regional dynamics. When assessing American foreign policy, it is imperative that we do not view foreign political crises through a narrow, western lens. 

Most Important Accomplishment: My proudest accomplishment to date is being Assistant Chair of Kappa Alpha Theta’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Safety Committee. As Assistant Chair I have helped institutionalized an official framework for Greek life sexual assault awareness and education committees. Our committee has streamlined communication with the Tompkins County Advocacy Center by maintaining consistent virtual contact with their advocates, whom I have also arranged to conduct three education series for the organization: new member education, current member education, and executive board education. More than formalizing a committee, I am proud of the fact that SAPS has become a support system for women who would otherwise remain entirely silent. Together we foster a safer environment for the women on college campuses.

Reflections on the College Scholar Program: I am incredibly grateful that College Scholar has provided me with a supportive, inquisitive academic community of peers and advisors. Whilst only having been in the program for one semester, I already feel myself attempting to coalesce the information that I am learning in various classes and extracurricular activities in an effort to answer the many fascinating questions my peers bring with them on my work. I hope that I am providing them the same intellectual motivation that they are providing me.