Student Spotlight: Allie Van Dine

Our eighth studHeadshotent spotlight features Allie Van Dine, who is a member of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service Class of 2014 majoring in International Politics.  Her research focuses on nuclear proliferation.
How did you become involved in research at Georgetown?

I became involved in research at Georgetown through the IPOL Honors Thesis program.

What was your favorite part about the research process?

Regarding the research itself, it’s really exciting to be able to pinpoint an area of the discipline I’ve studied for the last four years that I believe needs more exploration and do that exploring myself.  As a result of my twin passions for international security and the performing arts, the role of the individual in international relations is particularly fascinating to me.  It weaves theory, narrative, and policy together in a challenging and exciting way that is not sufficiently explored in IR literature today.  So getting to explore that has been awesome.  Also, the cohort of the ten of us in the program has been really amazing–I can’t believe we haven’t all been best friends for our whole time at Georgetown.  Everyone is really supportive, looks out for one another, and are amazing people to hang out with and bounce ideas off of.

How was Georgetown able to support you during the research process?

The IPOL program is great because we get to have a class in the fall to set us on the right track before we’re set loose in the Spring, so that’s been very helpful.  Dean Arsenault and Dean Billingslea, the IPOL deans, have been amazing as well–they’re always willing to work with us and sit down, be it to look at a draft or talk through our concerns.

The Georgetown University Undergraduate Research Symposium, and the university as a whole, is committed to fostering interdisciplinary, intellectual dialogue. What is one experience that you have had at Georgetown that reflects this commitment?

A lot of what I do with Mask & Bauble, actually, has turned into some amazing interdisciplinary and intellectual dialogue.  The very nature of the arts makes it a means to understanding; yes, it’s a discipline unto itself, but it also holds this amazing power to humanize really abstract concepts or difficult conversations in a way that makes them accessible and relatable to a lot of people.  Last year, one of my friends, T. Chase Meacham (COL ‘14), had the opportunity to have a play he wrote, Polk Street, co-produced by M&B and nomadictheatre.  Polk Street was an adaptation of oral histories Chase had heard on NPR that addressed the gentrification of the Tenderloin district in San Francisco.  Seeing the Tenderloin and all of its stories come to life in the Walsh Blackbox theater gave audience members a glimpse at the darker side of gentrification, the people whose voices are taken away and whose struggles are muted by a society that doesn’t know enough to care.  It pressed audience members to think about everything from public policy to human sexuality to the AIDS crisis in a new way–because now you could put a face and a story to these larger, more abstract concepts.  And this show was completely put together by Georgetown students.  That’s pretty amazing that we can do that kind of thing here.

Describe your research in one sentence.

If you can have friends and influence people, you don’t have to use nuclear proliferation to get them.

What is your advice for other undergraduates who are interested in pursuing research at Georgetown?

Don’t feel like you’re not qualified to do it.  If you believe that something can and should be explored, take it upon yourself to do it.  There are plenty of faculty here that are willing to mentor and talk with you, even if you’ve never been in a class with them.  For example, I never took a class with my advisor, Professor Kroenig.  I sent him an email to ask if I could stop by and talk through some of my ideas with him, and a couple of weeks later he was officially my thesis advisor.  Even if you’re doing more informal personal research, professors are always willing to sit down and talk.

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