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Emily O

- Research Program Mentor

MTS Master in Theological Studies


Development Studies, Environmental Ethics, Anthropology (focusing, especially, on human relationships with nature), International Relations, Writing, Creative Projects

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

The Role of Natural Resource in Conflict in Myanmar (Burma)

Some of the longest-standing civil wars in the world are currently taking place in Myanmar. It is a site of genocide, military takeover, and human rights violations. Many armies throughout Myanmar are funded on natural resources such as jade, rubber, and oil. Many foreign countries, such as the United States and China, purchase these natural resources. In this project, we would perform qualitative research through reading newspaper articles, analyzing academic papers, and interviewing colleagues on the role natural resources play in Myanmar's conflicts. We would also try to illuminate the ways these conflicts harm local ecosystems and communities. Lastly, we would try to point out some actions that may contribute to long-term peace in the country. Keywords: anthropology, politics, conflict, natural resources, environment, Myanmar, Burma, Asia, peace-building, international relations, mining

Traditional Foodways

Indigenous people throughout the world have developed cuisines using diverse ingredients from local ecosystems. As more of the world adopts a Western diet of processed foods, consume more wheat and rice, move away from agriculture, many of these local foods, seeds, and species are disappearing. Many activists have encouraged people to reclaim traditional foodways (encompassing what food is eaten, how it is grown, and deeper significance of the food) to benefit human health, preserve culture, promote Indigenous rights, and protect ecosystem diversity. In this project, we would research the traditional foodways of a particular area. It might be the area in which you live, or another one. We would focus on any aspect interesting to you - the cultural significance of foods, agricultural practices, seed diversity, land rights, or anything else. We would research the ways loss of food sovereignty impact Indigenous communities in a particular area. We would research what people are doing to protect these foodways. We may even try to access and prepare some of these foods in our own kitchens and write about that experience. Keywords: foodways, traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), Indigenous rights, land rights, land management, food security, food sovereignty, agriculture, writing, food, cooking, biodiversity, environmental conservation, environment

History of Religion in China

China has a long and vibrant religious history, featuring popular folk religions, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and other religions. It saw the birth of sects of Buddhism, such as Tiantai, and Chinese communities blended religions together into new, syncretized forms. In this project, we could research the history of a particular religion (such as Daoism or Buddhism) in China, becoming acquainted with primary schools, thinkers, and historical events. We could also perform comparative research on texts, such as comparing the Daoist "Zhuangzi" with the Buddhist "Lotus Sutra," or with texts from outside of China. We could also research ancient Chinese artworks tied to religion, such as ritual bronze vessels. We could also focus on one element of Chinese religion, such as mythological creatures, contemplative and meditative practices, and martial arts. If you speak Chinese or read Classical Chinese, we can also try to work through texts in their original form. Keywords: China, Chinese, Daoism, Buddhism, Confucianism, mythology, meditation, textual analysis, history, anthropology, religion, ancient history, comparative religion, comparative literature, East Asia

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