The European Union is an economic powerhouse but not an international security powerhouse. My research aims to understand why this is. That essentially is my question. The European single market, derived from a half century of European Union (EU) integration, allows free trade to occur across 27 countries and common regulations govern how member states act economically. Through classes, reading books, and following current events, I knew this narrative prior to my research. What I did not understand about the EU is why member states were not able to act together on international security issues. In fact, I knew very little of the foreign policy statute of the complex supranational body.
Research, to me, is all about discovering the unknown and the opportunity to understand a complex global problem was provided by the George Mason Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. This semester I have been addressing two related questions, what factors determine EU cohesiveness in international security? And subsequently, under what conditions do the EU and the United States collaborate on international security policy? Throughout I have reviewed hundreds of pages of scholarly literature, declared policies, and written treaties. In addition, I conduct interviews with scholars, government officials, and policy makers to determine how both the EU and US address the key issues in international security.
What’s next? Perhaps my research experience may translate into positions with foreign policy think tanks in Washington, the Brookings Institute and the Bipartisan Policy Center for example. Maybe I will combine this research experience with my previous experience as a congressional intern to take the next step, becoming a fellow or staffer on Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This research could lay the foundation for a dissertation I write when I am pursuing a Ph.D. No matter what, the experiences that I have had this semester as a scholar have taught me more than I could imagine and will serve me well in the future.