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Essi Pekonen and Ingmar Jansen win Political Science bachelor’s thesis prizes for 2022

October and November not only bring a number of proud Political Science graduates, it is also the season to determine who wrote the best bachelor’s thesis. For 2021-2022, fifteen theses were nominated. During the various graduation ceremonies the two final winners were announced: Essi Maria Teresia Pekonen and Ingmar Johannes Jansen.

International Relations and Organisations thesis prize

The Leiden and The Hague bachelor programmes in Political Science each have a thesis prize. The (still unnamed) prize for the best thesis in the specialisation International Relations and Organisations (IRO) is awarded anually since 2020. This year, the jury consisted of Petr Kopecký and Babak RezaeeDaryakenari. They accepted the challenge of picking the best thesis from a shortlist of ten theses, nominated by the instructors of the so-called IRO bachelor projects.

The jury evaluated these theses based on the excellence of the research question, social relevance, theoretical framework, empirical analysis, and policy implications. After careful deliberation, the jury agreed on one winner, and one honourable mention.

Thesis prize BSc Political Science: IRO
Thesis prize winner Essi Pekonen (r) and her supervisor Corinna Jentzsch (l). Photo: Barbra Verbij

‘Theoretical innovation, scientific rigor, clear writing, nuanced conclusions, and relevance to societal issues’

The IRO thesis prize of the 2021-2022 academic year goes to Essi Maria Teresia Pekonen. Her thesis, Framing Palestine: How the BDS Movement Employs Human Rights to Mobilize Corporations, according to the jury, stands out for its ‘theoretical innovation, scientific rigor, clear writing, nuanced conclusions, and relevance to societal issues.’

Essi, focusing on the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, investigates how social movements mobilise firms. Using framing theory she developed an analytical framework to explain how movements create collective understandings and identities regarding their beliefs, goals, and values, which can compel people and organizations to mobilise for a cause. Her thesis presents, according to the jury, a ‘systematic and structured analysis of framing by the movement and the company, with frequent and careful references to relevant theoretical concepts’. The jury specifically appreciates the social implications of this study and its findings for social movements, with its special focus on the connection between global north and south societies.

The thesis was supervised by Corinna Jentzsch, and the second reader was Vasiliki Tsagkroni, both of Leiden University’s Institute of Political Science.

Honourable mention: François Barré

The honourable mention goes to François Barré’s thesis Beyond Good and Bad Theories of Knowledge: Genealogy, Truth-seeking, and Relations of Causality in Nietzsche and Foucault, supervised by Matthew Longo. The jury praises François for his ‘careful and interesting discussion of the relationship between truth and knowledge in Foucault and Nietzsche’.

Van den Berg Prize (Politicologie and Internationale Politiek)

Students in the bachelor programme Politicologie and the specialisation Internationale Politiek are, if nominated by their thesis supervisors, eligible for the Van den Berg Prize.

The jury for this edition (the first Van den Berg Prize was awarded in 2010) consisted of student representative (and chair) Emma Breed, Joop van den Berg, and instructors Maria Spirova and Marco Verschoor. They faced the difficult task of picking a winner from the five shortlisted theses, ‘all of impressive quality’.

At the end of the day, the jury decided that the best thesis of 2021-2022 is EU-Russia Energy Relations and Sanctions, written by Ingmar Johannes Jansen and supervised by Karolina Pomorska.

‘Well developed academic skills’

Ingmar’s research is about how the dependence of EU member states on Russian fossile fuels affects their position on sanctions against Russia. There appears to be a positive correlation between both. The jury compliments Ingmar with his ‘clear research design and thorough theoretical framework’, as well as with the way he points out shortcomings in previous similar research. Ingmar, the jury concludes, ‘shows well developed academic skills’.

Scriptieprijs 2022 BSc Politicologie
Author Ingmar Jansen (r) and jury chair Emma Breed (l). Photo: Barbra Verbij
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