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Leadership Honors Thesis Program

Many McDonough Scholars participate in the College’s Honors Program through “curriculum honors” (special honors classes open only to honors students) and “research honors” (the writing of an honors thesis). If you are a McDonough Scholar interested in pursuing a research honors project, please contact Dr. Robert McManus (, coordinator of the Leadership Honors Thesis Program, for more information.


Honors Thesis Highlights:


Alina Kielbasa ’15 (International Leadership Studies Major from Austintown, Ohio)

Honors Thesis Title: "Leadership and Climate Change: A Case Study of Tuvalu."

Thesis Abstract: "The purpose of this research is to discover and analyze the Tuvaluan perspective on climate change and leadership. There were two main research questions that went into the creation of the survey distributed in Tuvalu: (1) What do the Tuvaluan people perceive are the environmental problems of Tuvalu, (2) Who do the Tuvaluan people perceive are responsible for those problems. The data was collected in Funafuti, Tuvalu through interviews and 124 surveys. Four main themes emerged from the interviews: coastal erosion, water scarcity, waste management, and climate change awareness. Finally, Rian Satterwhite’s theory Deep Systems Leadership was used to describe the Tuvaluan’s relationships between the individual, their systems, and the environment."

As part of this research project, Kielbasa interviewed the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Enele Sopoaga (photo above, right).

Statement by Kielbasa: "This Honors Research Thesis was a primary research project conducted abroad in Funafuti, Tuvalu. 124 surveys were personally distributed in both English and Tuvaluan and then translated, resulting in statistical data that suggested Tuvaluans are incredibly concerned about climate change and that they perceive they will need to relocate from their country within 80 years due to sea level rise. The interviews suggested that their small low lying coral atoll islands are facing four main environmental issues: coastal erosion, water scarcity, waste management, and climate change awareness. I applied this data to an environmental leadership theory that was taught by Dr. McManus and Dr. David Brown while on a three-week leadership course through McDonough in Costa Rica and Belize. After meeting the author, Rian Satterhwite at the McDonough Leadership Conference the next year, I decided to apply his theory 'Deep Systems Leadership' to see if assisted in explaining Tuvalu's unique relationship with the environment.


Joshua Maxwell ’11 (International Leadership Studies Major from Houston, Texas)

Honors Thesis Title: "An Exploration of Latin American Leadership as Seen Through the Theories of Charles Ramirez Berg and Juana Bordas."

Thesis Statement: The depiction of historical Latino leaders as seen in American film presents and helps shape American views of Latino leadership.

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