Department or Program

Peace and Justice Studies

Title of Approved Individual Major

Peace and Justice Studies: Concentration in Urban Conflict and Peace-Building

Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Lawrence Rosenwald


For four months, the parallel between Chicago and Paris, two seemingly incomparable cities, gnawed at me while I travelled to and from my internship at the city hall of Pantin, a neighboring suburb of Paris. I was placed in the Department of Politique de la Ville, a national funding mechanism dedicated to low-income neighborhoods in France during its call to reform. At its best, the mechanism is quite dynamic, increasing the resources and mutual trust between residents and government; at its worst, it is highly ineffective, financially wasteful, and ignorant of the specific needs of communities. While most research students spend months piled over books, I spent months sitting in and listening to focus groups, community presentations, and internal department debates, a fly on the many walls of French bureaucracy and law making. This research experience played an important role in cementing my interest in urban conflict and, more importantly, was essential in my understanding of the give and take between local government and community organizing. I aim to answer: Can the French hierarchical mode of governance accommodate new voices, and community actors, in its decision-making?