The Burkle Center funds faculty research working groups and faculty research projects led by UCLA faculty in support of the study and analysis of significant questions of international policy and politics. Faculty Research Working Group activities can take various forms, such as a series of roundtables, reading groups, speaker symposia or workshops centered on a theme. Faculty research project grants are seed grants designed to jump start major grant proposals in the realm of international relations, U.S. foreign policy, and issues of global cooperation and conflict. Themes must address a topic or topics related to international relations, U.S. foreign policy, and/or issues of global cooperation and conflict.

Faculty research grants are awarded annually during late spring to fund project during the next academic year. To see last year's projects, please scroll down.

Preview of 2013-14 Projects

Strategic (Non)Participation in International Organizations

Leslie Johns, Assistant Professor, UCLA Department of Political Science

Research Project:International organizations aspire to egalitarian decision-making among sovereign states.  Yet powerful states often drive decisions, while weaker states are excluded from participation.  This research project, which is jointly undertaken with Krzysztof J. Pelc of McGill University, examines the politics of participation within international organizations.  We examine participation from the perspective of both powerful and weak states.  First, we argue the powerful states that expect to lose within technocratic institutions, such as courts and bureaucracies, seek to politicize issues by broadening participation, while those that benefit from technocratic institutions seek to limit participation by weaker states.  Second, we argue that sometimes exclusionary decision-making can benefit those very states that are excluded from participation.  Because broader participation hinders dispute settlement, observed exclusion may reflect rational decisions by weak states not to participate, rather than formal or informal constraints on participation.  This multifaceted project will use formal, quantitative, and qualitative methods to examine strategic participation in World Trade Organization dispute settlement and rule-making, European Union regulation, and sovereign debt negotiations.

Program on International Migration

Hiroshi Motomura, Professor, UCLA School of Law (co-chair), Marjorie Faulstich Orellana, Professor, UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies (co-chair); Ruben Hernandez-Leon, Associate Professor, UCLA Department of Sociology, and Roger Waldinger, Distinguished Professor, UCLA Department of Sociology

Research project: Although migration is clearly a domestic issue, it is driven by cross-border social networks; it therefore inherently produces international spillovers – remittances, cross-border communication and travel, diaspora politics, as well as homeland-oriented immigrant philanthropy – that in turn trigger responses from home countries, seeking to influence the emigrants and access their resources. During 2013-14, the Program in International Migration will continue its bi-weekly program of speakers, with plans to once again assemble an interdisciplinary, international group. Invited speakers in 2013–14 are expected to address international refugee protection, comparative immigration policy-making, remittances, social networks and migration, and transnational families, among other topics. The bi-weekly series will be complemented by a one-day workshop per quarter. In fall quarter 2013, the one–day workshop will be a day–long conference to be held at UCLA in partnership with Colegio de la Frontera Norte (COLEF) (Tijuana). The Program is also planning a conference to be held at Sciences Po in Paris in 2014, which will include UCLA students and faculty, as well as counterparts from Europe.  The Paris conference is the second in a series of planned events that commenced in March 2012 with an international, interdisciplinary graduate student conference at UCLA, on Migration, Ethnicity, and Urban Change, organized in cooperation with Sciences Po (Paris) and the Berlin Graduate School for Social Science.  

Working Group: Devolution and Public Service Delivery in Africa: Implication for Health, Water, and Education for All by 2015

Edith Mukudi Omwami, Associate Professor, UCLA Graduation School of Education and Information Studies (co-chair)Edmond J. Keller, Professor, UCLA Department of Political Science (co-chair), Osman Galal, Professor and Director, International Health Program at UCLA School of Public Health (co-investigator), Charlotte Neumann, Professor, Community Health Sciences and Pediatrics at UCLA School of Public Health (co-investigator), and Dr. Stephen Commins, Lecturer in Urban Planning, UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs (co-investigator).

Research Project: The purpose of this project is to organize an international workshop, involving lectures and discussion focused on the delivery of public goods in Africa, particularly the policies of governments in the areas of health care, water and sanitation, the provision of affordable housing, and education.  These are sectors that have been a particular focus of donor agencies, multi-lateral and bi-lateral and non-governmental organization.  A group of five UCLA faculty members will constitute the collaborative team, the “Research Working Group on Delivery of Public Services in a Reforming Governance Structure in Africa.” The project particularly focuses on two countries, Kenya in East Africa and Ethiopia in Northeast Africa.

Understanding Fuel Price Shocks

Michael Ross, Professor, UCLA Department of Political Science
Jay Ulfelder, Independent Researcher

Research Project: Many news reports suggest that increases in the price of fuel can trigger protests, and even threaten the stability of governments.  This project seeks to collect original data on monthly fuel prices in all countries to statistically explore this hypothesis.  The project also hopes to clarify the conditions under which governments have successfully

Review of 2012-13 Projects

The British colonies and the 'first' wave of globalization

UCLA Professor Christian DippelChristian Dippel, Assistant Professor of Economics, UCLA Anderson School of Management

Through its support, the Burkle Center enabled the collection of data in the British colonies during the `first globalization’, i.e. the second half of the 19th century. Prof. Dippel focused on the 17 British colonies in the Caribbean since they shared similar histories and were exposed to very similar terms of trade shocks during his time. The Burkle Grant was instrumental in collecting data for the paper "Franchise Extension and Elite Persistence: The Post-Slavery Caribbean Plantation Complex." Some of the data collected for the former paper was also used in a second paper "Trade Rents and Coercive Labor Market Institutions: The Post-Slavery Caribbean Plantation Complex.” The first paper has been presented at several conferences and seminars and is ready for journal submission, the second paper will start to get presented at conferences this fall.

The paper is available here.

Program on International Migration

UCLA Professor Roger WaldingerRoger Waldinger, Distinguished Professor, Department of Sociology (Working Group Chair); Ruben Hernandez-Leon, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology; andMarjorie Faulstich Orellana, Associate Professor, Department of Education.

The Program on International Migration is a bottom-up, faculty and graduate student-driven interdisciplinary activity. The program runs a well-attended, biweekly seminar throughout the academic year with presentations from every social science discipline, as well as education, medicine, law, and public health. Issues discussed include immigration and politics; transnationalism; the migration industry; families and children in migration; and Central American migration. One of the distinguishing features of the program is its international focus: The biweekly seminar series regularly includes speakers from abroad and the program is developing research and instructional relationships with universities and research centers in Mexico and Europe.  There were many successful events throughout the 2012-13 year, from a talk by Sarah Leah Whitson from Human Rights Watch, to a talk by LA Times reporter and novelist Hector Tobar and the very successful international conference on immigration history during spring quarter. The conference brought together an interdisciplinary group of French and U.S. researcher and focused on transnationalism over the past century and on recent trends in immigration history. The program also maintains a working paper series.

Diplomatic Calculus: How States Draw Conclusions about Each Others’ Future Behavior

UCLA Professor Robert TragerRobert Trager, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science

Prof. Trager’s book examines how the representatives of adversarial states communicate and form their beliefs about each other’s attentions. Burkle Center support allowed Prof. Trager to test his theory that only 5 logics of inferences underlie most diplomatic signaling: choosing the scope of demands made on another state, risking breach in relations, encouraging a protégé, staking one’s reputation, and making a diplomatic approach all convey specific sorts of information under particular conditions. Prof. Trager’s argument departs from others in the field. But data analysis showed that, as predicted by the theory, threats are found more credible the weaker the threatening side and the closer the relations among the involved parties. States are more likely to believe that more powerful states have hostile intentions, but when a threat is made, the reverse is the case. Trager shows how these dynamics lead to substantial shifts in leader perceptions and play a central role in constructing the international environment of states and influencing decisions for war.