A junior year abroad in France, a growing interest in French culture and politics and a background in history was what prompted Alexandra Field '06 (New York, N.Y.) to spend her summer doing research for a project titled "Franco-German Relations After the Iraq War." As a Levitt Fellow, Field is working with Alan Cafruny, professor of government, as she studies the strengths and weaknesses of the Franco-German alliance in order to assess the impact of Franco-German cooperation on U.S.-European relations, and on France's desire to pose a counterweight to the United States.
"Living in France, I had the opportunity to gain a more intimate and accurate sense of another country's own self-perception," Field said. "As a result of my course work in French diplomatic history, and my everyday exposure to contemporary French culture, I began to develop a stronger awareness of the way in which France's sense of national identity affects French foreign policy."
Field, a French and History major, said that in the future, she is also interested "in adopting a more historical approach to Franco-German relations by studying the emergence of the alliance since the Second World War.
"The opportunity to analyze the Franco-German alliance became of interest to me at this pivotal moment wherein France is working to establish its position both within the European Union and with respect to the U.S.A."
Field is currently reading academic journals and foreign newspapers and is conducting much of her research in French. "The most difficult aspect of this project has been adjusting to researching events that are currently unfolding. As a history major, I have typically been taught how to study and analyze situations that have already been resolved."
Regarding the Levitt Fellowship, Field said that she had the idea to apply for this while she was still in France last year and had been formulating summer research project ideas. Currently in her fifth week of research, Field said that she hopes to include part of her project in a senior thesis and cited the benefits of living on campus this summer. "The Levitt Fellowship has allowed me to work with Professor Cafruny, with whom I had not previously studied. Under Professor Cafruny's supervision I have had the opportunity to research in-depth a topic of such strong interest to me, which might not have been possible otherwise during the school year."
To enhance student research around issues of public affairs, the
Levitt Center funds student-faculty research through its Levitt
Research Fellows Program. The program is open to all students who wish
to spend the summer working in collaboration with a faculty member on
an issue related to public affairs. Students receive a summer stipend
and some expense money, and spend 10 weeks in the summer working
intensively with a faculty mentor. Those selected for the program are
required to provide a written assessment of their work at the
completion of the summer, and also give a public presentation of their
research findings to the Hamilton community, or local high school
classes through the Levitt Scholars program.
-- by Katherine Trainor