Monday, September 25, 2017

OSCAR Student Josephine Neulen Researches Populism and Right Wing Extremism in Europe

Hello! My name is Josephine Neulen and I am a senior Government and International Politics student at George Mason University. My OSCAR research focused on populism and right wing extremism in Europe, specifically France, Germany, and the UK. I have always been fascinated by these sorts of movements and why people support them, especially when they happen in large waves. As a German and French native, this research was fascinating since I could try to explain a recent phenomenon by comparing data to the cultural context I was familiar with. I was incredibly lucky to have been supported by my university and great faculty to pursue my interest. This summer I truly learned what Political Science is-- yes, I said Science-- and how to structure my research and find data to support or refute my hypotheses using the right methodology. I got to be a student for a whole summer, learning about Logistic Regression, coding, LaTeX (no, not the material-- the document preparation system), and how to turn a simple interest into scholarly work.

It was amazing to have the opportunity to work independently, whether that meant working at home or even travel abroad to meet faculty at other universities to help me guide my research. I had frequent meetings with my research mentor, Professor Daigle, who gave me assignments for each time we met to help me be more structured in my learning. It was incredibly helpful to be challenged and to be taught in such a unique way. I learned how to manage time properly, ask for advice and for help, and what to do when there is a major roadblock in your work (it happens!). Because of this great experience I will always remember that there is more to being a Government student than just working for the government, and that the “science” part of Political Science is there for a reason.