I have just embarked on my Exploration Summer, a time to “explore academic and cultural interests” made possible by the Robertson Scholar Leadership Program at Duke University. I would like to extend a thank you to Vicki Stocking, the program’s summer coordinator, and Professor Georg Vanberg, my summer mentor, both of whom helped me design my summer and whittle down my many ideas to one.
For me, Exploration Summer is not about changing the world, publishing novel research, or going on a vacation. Instead, it is a time to learn, gathering knowledge about the world as it is and myself as I am. Over the next two months I will be traveling individually (with the exception of a couple visits from family and friends) to two countries – Scotland and Spain – to explore the political happenings in their two incredibly dynamic political environments. I selected these locations due to their recent, and still active, independence movements. In 2014, the Scottish government held a referendum on whether or not Scotland should remain in the United Kingdom. 55% voted to remain. 45% voted to leave. In 2017, the Catalan government held a referendum on whether or not Catalonia, an autonomous community in Spain, should become an independent country, leaving Spain. While over 90% voted to leave, the Spanish government declared the referendum unconstitutional, and there were a number of questions about the validity of the results.
These movements are worthy of extended study and attention in that they shed light on a number of different political issues, from economic policy to immigration, and closely relate to my work in alleviating the political divisions in the United States. As the summer progresses, the focus of my inquiries may evolve. In addition to this blog, my physical deliverable from the summer is still not set in stone. While the initial plan was to capture a series of videos and interviews about these movements, a number of other approaches including historical studies, informal conversations, local news, and relevant literature could also prove useful.
Thanks for joining me. Updates on this website may be frequent at times and sparse at others, contingent upon the frequency of blog-worthy happenings, internet access, and time constraints. If you have any thoughts or suggestions along the way, please reach out.