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Click to watch Sophia Geffen '13 and Allison Sherris discuss their research projects.

An Analysis of Community-Based Water Monitoring in the Lake Titicaca Basin

Sophia Geffen ('13); Allison Sherris ('13); Javier Bojorquez*; Mentor: Heather Williams
*Suma Marka, Puno, Peru

Abstract:  The department of Puno, Peru boasts the largest lake in South America, but many communities in the region are facing a severe water crisis. Mines dot the region, filling nearby streams with sediment and heavy metals and leaving behind piles of waste rock that leach acid into rivers. Sediments coat downstream fields of subsistence farmers, while acidic water and metals can harm livestock and human health. This summer, we studied a community-based water monitoring initiative that was created to address these problems. The Suma Quta Watershed Defense project gives community members the tools to quantify and address water pollution. Suma Quta trains and equips volunteers as monitors, analyzes water quality data on a monthly basis and returns findings to the affected communities. We conducted interviews to evaluate the effectiveness of community-based water monitoring as a tool for combating point-source aqueous pollution in a developing world setting.
Funding Provided by: Faucett Family Foundation Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant to the  Claremont Colleges Environmental Analysis Program

Human Trafficking in Argentina

Rosa Greenberg ('12) ; Mentor: Heather Williams, April Mayes

Abstract:  This project explores political tensions in the campaign to end human trafficking in Argentina.  Human trafficking describes the activities involved when someone obtains or holds a person in compelled service by force, fraud or coercion. Trafficking has emerged as a prominent issue in Argentina through efforts of activist organizations who have launched campaigns, spearheaded national legislative projects and pressed for action from provincial governments.  The question of how to fight this crime, however, divides the various actors involved in the movement.  A union of sex workers advocates for sex as work independent of coercion, clashing with feminist organizations who argue all of the commercial sex industry is exploitative.  Labor cooperatives and federal officials are in conflict over how to combat the alleged complicity of law enforcement.  In President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s government, new trafficking policy fits within a human rights agenda that has been contested in design and intent.
Funding Provided by: Faucett Family Foundation  

Evaluating Household Arsenic Filtration as a Tool for the Promotion of Public Health in the Lake Titicaca Basin of Peru

Allison Sherris ('13); Sophia Geffen ('13); Mentor: Heather Williams

Abstract:  Arsenic is a formidable public health challenge. It is naturally occurring in groundwater throughout the world. Communities with contaminated well water face an increased risk of cancer and other serious health issues. However, there is no standard method for removing arsenic from groundwater and no known treatment for exposure.  Arsenic is present in levels up to one hundred times the WHO recommended maximum in many wells in the Lake Titicaca basin of Peru.  This summer, we traveled to the region to help launch a household water filtration project led by Suma Marka, a Peruvian nonprofit, in collaboration with Engineers Without Borders. While in Peru we participated in the planning, construction, and installation of a pilot arsenic filter in a community health post. This experience has allowed us to analyze the potential of household arsenic filtration as a tool for the promotion of public health in the basin.
Funding Provided by: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant to the  Claremont Colleges Environmental Analysis Program  

Foundations of the Founders

Matthew Wolfson ('12); Mentor: Susan McWilliams

Abstract:  What was the Founding Fathers’ vision for our nation? Contemporary America is engulfed in a debate about whether the Founders strict constitutionalists who crusaded for states’ rights, incipient socialists who supported government funded healthcare, conservative businessmen, angry revolutionaries, or something else entirely? This project explores the political philosophy of the first generation of Americans, not through analyzing their abstract political treatises, which functioned partly as propaganda, but through examining the lives they led, specifically the many public and private structures—hospitals, churches, parks and houses—which they designed, funded and built. The project concludes that, in their everyday lives if not in their foundational texts, the nation’s Founders held different worldviews which drew from diverse strands of thought—enlightenment rationalism; Protestant, Quaker and Catholic religiosity; landholding conservatism; and burgeoning capitalism, among others—and that they brought these sometimes contradictory outlooks to bear when envisioning the future of America.
Funding Provided by: Hart Institute for American History

A Progressive Approach: Enforcing International Refugee Law

Shayla Wright ('12); Mentor: Elizabeth Crighton

Abstract:  The Colombian conflict increased the refugee outflow to Ecuador. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is the leading agency with a refugee protection mandate, and its primary functions are providing aid, programs, research and interpreting international refugee law in refugee determination in its in- country programs while the High Commissioner advocates for political change. The UNHCR’s prohibition of direct interaction in country affairs allows its other operations, but cannot adequately resolve international conflicts. The role of NGOs is critical in providing protection mechanisms for refugees by being directly involved in enforcing refugee law and advocating for better definitions. The role that the Ecuadorian branch of Asylum Access has taken is multifaceted. There are four core strategies: strategic litigation, political advocacy, direct enforcement through legal petitions and outreach. The Ecuadorian’s response to the refugee conflict has been positive and negative, but overall this government has satisfactorily supported international law.
Funding Provided by: Faucett Family Foundation  

Research at Pomona