Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law Stanford University

Photo Credit: Francis Fukuyama

CDDRL Senior Honors Program


Application period closed on February 28, 2014.


The CDDRL Interdisciplinary Honors Program aims to provide an opportunity for eligible seniors focusing on democracy, economic development, and rule of law subjects in any university department to earn honors in democracy, development, and rule of law (DDRL). CDDRL seeks a diverse group of undergraduate majors for the program from any department or interdisciplinary program interested in writing their senior theses on a subject touching upon DDRL with a global impact. Students will work to complete their thesis under the guidance and consultation of CDDRL faculty, but may have a primary thesis advisor from their own department. Upon fulfilling individual department course requirements and completing the honors program, the student will graduate in his/her major with a certificate of honors in Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law. 

The components of the program are as follows:

Being a part of the CDDRL family through the Senior Honors program has greatly enhanced and enriched my academic experience.  CDDRL is home to some of the most talented faculty members who are always willing to brainstorm academic ideas, offer advice on career paths, and mentor us through the challenges of the thesis-writing process.  Washington, in particular, was a generous gift for us to engage with the leading minds in the country on issues of democracy and development."                  -Ayeesha Lalji, Senior

1. Students apply to the program in the winter quarter of their junior year. Students will be notified of acceptance to the program before spring break. They will be required to have a letter of support from a CDDRL affiliated faculty member who would also serve as their thesis advisor. They may also have a second advisor from their major department (and this will be encouraged in technical fields if there are no CDDRL faculty members with appropriate specialized knowledge).

2. Students accepted into the program will take a 3-unit CDDRL research seminar in the spring quarter of their junior year. This course will be taught by CDDRL affiliated faculty on a rotating basis. The goal of the seminar is to expose students to different approaches to research, help them to refine their theses topics, and produce a prospectus that asks a clear question, demonstrates familiarity with some of the existing approaches to the question, and then proposes a research design to begin answering the question.

3. Students will be encouraged to do fieldwork or other forms of original research over the summer prior to their senior year. Some of them may also undertake internships in CDDRL programs like our Summer Fellows Program on Democracy and Development (for development practitioners from around the world and held at CDDRL every summer); our Programs on Liberation Technology, Human Rights, Democracy in Taiwan, and Arab Reform and Democracy; or other international internships offered through the Haas Center for Public Service.

4. CDDRL will hold a CDDRL Honors College every September before fall quarter classes begin. The Honors College will take place in Washington, DC, in order to expose the students directly to the broader development policy community and is fully funded by CDDRL. The 2014-2015 Honors College is tentatively scheduled for Sep 14 -20, 2014.

5. Students will be required to take IR/PS 114D, Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, in the fall quarter of their senior years (if they have not taken it previously). This is a 5-unit course.

6. In the fall and winter quarters of their senior year, the students will be required to participate in the CDDRL honors research workshop with the faculty leader of the program. They may claim 1 to 3 units each quarter for this component of our program. Students will briefly present their thesis research to date and then respond to questions from the group regarding the project and areas where it might be improved. We have found this to be an effective way to encourage students to stick to a deadline, and to stimulate them to reconsider aspects of their project once they present it in front of a small audience and receive feedback.

7. The students will complete their thesis projects no later than the first week of May of their senior year (if they wish to be considered for an award). They will submit their theses for honors to the faculty committee at CDDRL and their respective advisors. They will present their finished work to the CDDRL community at that time.

8. Upon graduation, students will graduate from their respective departments and receive honors in Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. CDDRL will also offer an annual prize to the author of the best thesis in the CDDRL program.

Summary of Units:

  • The student will receive up to 9 units in their senior year for their completed thesis through independent study with their advisor. Units will be awarded upon completion of the thesis, but may be distributed across quarters as needed depending on individual quarterly course loads.
  • A participating student would receive:

-5 units for IR/PS 114D (Note however, that if this course fulfills a departmental major requirement as well, then the student must take an additional 5-unit course in a related subject area approved by the CDDRL Honors Faculty Director on a case by case basis)
-3 units for the spring quarter junior research seminar,
-1 to 3 units (depending on their course load and the need to balance units each quarter) in each of the fall and winter quarter of senior year for participation in the weekly CDDRL Honors research workshop.


Summary Table

CDDRL Honors Class Schedule and Units

Quarter Class Course # Units
Spring, Junior Honors Research Methods DDRL 189 3
Fall, Senior* Democ, Dev, RoL IR/PS 114D 5
Fall, Senior Honors research workshop DDRL 190 1-3
Winter, Senior Honors research workshop DDRL 190 1-3
Total= 4 quarters     10-14

*If not yet taken prior to start of Honors program


Application due February 28, 2014.


2013-14 CDDRL Honors Students



Thesis Topic

Meaghan Conway IR

Blended ROI? Analyzing the Economic and Social Returns of Private Equity Investment in Emerging Markets

Mahilini Kailaiyangirichelvam IR

The impact of civil war on food production in Sri Lanka

Haiy Le IR / MGTSC

How is the Media Used to Advocate for Land Rights in Vietnam?

Devanshi Patel  IR / CSRE

How the Chain of Command Structure of the U.S. Military Affects the Reporting and Prosecution of Internal Sexual Assault Cases

Janani Ramachandran


Anti-Americanism in Pakistan

Danna Seligman  PoliSci

The Origins of Political Gridlock- Institutional and Societal Mechanisms that Inhibit Government Productivity in the United States

Belinda Tang


The Implications of Women Policymakers in a Natural Experiment in Lesotho

Aditya Todi  IR

The role and importance of political parties in consolidating democracy with a focus on Nepal and potentially South Africa and Ghana

Fellowship Coordinator
Alice Kada
Encina Hall
Stanford, CA 94305
(650) 724-7197 (voice)
(650) 724-2996 (fax)