George Mason Review - 2021-2022

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VOLUME 31 | 2021 – 2022


VOLUME 31 | 2021 – 2022



VOLUME 31 | 2021 – 2022


The mission of The George Mason Review is to capture Mason’s spirit, where “innovation is tradition,” through the publication of diverse works from across the curriculum. The George Mason Review, a publication for undergraduates by undergraduates, seeks scholarship that demonstrates creativity and critical thought. In its print and virtual form, this cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary journal features exemplary academic work and welcomes submissions that challenge the boundaries of how scholarship has traditionally been defined.


The George Mason Review accepts submissions year round. We accept research writing, literary critiques or analyses, creative nonfiction, and all other forms of scholarship. Find submission guidelines online at Submit your work via


Submissions underwent a two-tiered peer review process. Peer reviewers evaluated papers on the categories of “Quality of Writing,” “Clarity of Writing,” “Knowledge/ Depth of Field,” and “Interest/Applicability of Topic.” These peer reviewers, all from different majors, were looking for papers that were both the best in their fields and understandable to people from other fields. The Assistant Editor and Editor-in-Chief reviewed all papers that made it to the second round in order to select the papers that you see published here.

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This volume would not have been possible without the extraordinary efforts of the following people:


Meg Thornberry

Lexi McCaffrey


Associate Editor


Isabella Horne

Ashley Platenberg

Aisha Ibrahim

Semira Benyam


Jason Hartsel


Special thanks to Kathryn Mangus, David Carroll, Ben Hosig, and the Office of Student Media.



Raise your hand if you are sick to death of hearing about how this year looks a little bit different than last year. Now prepare to raise your other hand, because I have one more story for you. This was the first time in a couple of years that the George Mason Review met or recruited in person. While this year’s staff was incredible, it was also quite small. With the hybrid model we used for meetings and recruitment, I met fewer than half of them in person. It takes an exception kind of person to sign up for work online, then actually do it and turn it in on time to be assigned even more work. I need to give a special shout-out to the peer reviewer from Volition, Semira, who joined us as a pinch-hitter at the last minute, and then an even longer shout-out to Ashley, Aisha and Isabella, who actually signed up to join this crazy thing from the outset. Finally, to Lexi, my Associate Editor, who jumped in half-way through to make sure this whole thing actually got done, I legitimately have no idea what I would have done without you. I think we would probably be publishing this in August.

Our advisor Jason Hartsel brought me on in January, instead of September, after something of a crisis, meaning mainly that all of the experienced staff had graduated, and I am both deeply flattered and annoyed that he thought I could fix it. Our initial thoughts that my being a grad student meant that I could still get this journal published on time were quickly dashed, as all of the logistical pieces did not seem to care that I had a few more years of journalism and publishing experience than previous editors-in-chief. Thank you so much to all of the contributors who bore with me as I explained that it would just be a little bit longer until we actually got their work published anywhere from two to five times, depending on their tenacity. I’m sorry if you graduated before we went to print, and so couldn’t put this on your resumes, but at least now you have bragging rights at the wonderful jobs I know you all got anyways. Thank you for trusting us to ferry your work from the confines of the classes you wrote them for out into the big, scary world.

Finally, thank you to our readers for actually pick this up instead of just glancing at “that blue thing outside of the library.” I know it sounds like another cliché, but there were many fantastic works submitted this year, and we really did have to make some difficult decisions about what to include. I hope you enjoy, or at least find edifying, the selection we’ve put in front of you here.





As George Mason University celebrates its 50th Anniversary, now is an opportune time to reflect and consider our history while simultaneously looking toward the future. As the saying goes, “Looking in the mirror is important, yet looking into the windshield is even more critical.”

The history of George Mason University — from the days of being a branch of the University of Virginia to our founding as a four-year institution of higher education to our becoming a highly ranked and well-respected comprehensive research university — is a journey of great pride. Evolving from modest roots primarily as a commuter campus to become the largest comprehensive public research university in Virginia is quite remarkable. Even more remarkable is the progress we have made with respect to


the rankings of our academic programs, the academic performance and graduation rates of our students as well as their career success, the research and scholarship portfolio of our faculty, and the recognition of Mason as a Carnegie Tier 1 research university. One of the most remarkable achievements, of which I remain very proud, is the continued emphasis on engagement with and relevance to our community — the Northern Virginia and National Capital regions.

As exciting as it has been to watch Maxon grow and evolve, it follows most other organizations — especially institutions of higher education — across the globe that are currently experiencing a period of rapid change often characterized as a “time of inflection.” As we consider the implications of change, it also is important to consider the “catalysts for change” and an associated vision for the next era.


The last few years have been quite challenging. The COVID crisis, the awakening of our nation with respect to social issues and associated concerns, economic uncertainties, an increase in violent crime locally and nationally, and the tragic conflicts that have erupted in many parts of the world — particularly in Ukraine — are but a subset of the challenges we have faced. For Mason, my view has been that challenges need to be addressed while concurrently identifying the opportunities that can flow from them.

Author H. Jackson Brown, Jr. once wrote “When you can’t change the direction of the wind — adjust your sails.” Indeed, as we have demonstrably experienced, the winds have shifted — headwinds, tailwinds and also crosswinds. Of the many challenges we have faced over the last few years, among the most consequential has been the “COVID crisis” and its many implications.


March 2020 was to be a time of the year when the cold of winter would yield to the warmth of spring. Flowers would begin to bloom as the leaves on the trees could be seen again, as spring is always the season that portends a new beginning. Indeed, spring 2020 was a new beginning — the beginning of a time to be like none other. COVID changed most everything about our lives, and many things about our university.

Over the span of two weeks, nearly 10,000 Mason classes became virtual, student housing closed, faculty and staff deserted campus and we were forced to discover a “new normal.” Fear abounded as the disease raged and so many people around the world became ill and faced grave personal risk. COVID was also a spawn of new things — new ways of doing almost everything. Although the initial effect of COVID

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was disruption to our daily lives, as the virus quickened its pace and savagery, virtually everything about our existence transformed. The virus also, rather paradoxically, inspired us to view this as a period of “inventiveness” that created new approaches to most every aspect of life.

We learned how to connect via Zoom — which was to become ubiquitous — while grocery shopping was done via Instacart, food was delivered via Uber Eats, and within a matter of weeks, almost all our relationships shifted to a virtual modality. In short, and by necessity, we invented new approaches to our daily lives. This was not easy and not without great stress and strain. In fact, the emotional and mental health implications of the pandemic have been enormous, with many experiencing significant behavioral health consequences (Kaslow et al., 2020; Han et al., 2021; Sloan et al., 2021).

However, the disruptiveness of COVID and the inventions that unfolded as a result would become transcended by the opportunities for accelerated change. Nearly overnight we were forced to adjust and adapt — to do almost everything differently. Fortunately, we soon learned that this was an “unintended opportunity” brought by the crisis of COVID.

Organizational theorists long have studied the changes that occur in organizations. For example, the concept of VUCA was initially developed in 1985 by renowned organizational theorists Warren Bennis and Burt Nanus (Bennis & Nanus, 1985) to describe or to reflect on the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of general conditions and situations. These four words defined, in important ways, the experience of the COVID crisis. More recently, Bill George updated the concept of VUCA by identifying VUCA 2.0 (George, 2017). His re-conceptualization is as follows:

At Mason, both models reflect our reality. My view is that as the COVID crisis evolved, Mason has needed to review, reflect and refresh much of what we do and how we do it. We also determined that we needed to reinvent some of our most fundamental processes while we reset expectations so needs would be met and expectations exceeded. For many months after the inception of the pandemic, we were in the midst of VUCA. Over time we moved to a period of VUCA 2.0 which is where I believe we remain.

For example, our faculty and students successfully made a transition, or what

VUCA VUCA 2.0 V olatility V ision U ncertainty U nderstanding C omplexity C ourage A mbiguity A daptability

had been termed by many in higher education a “pivot” in teaching and learning through virtual modalities of instruction. This was not easy and not without transition challenges. However, we learned how effectively this could be done. As a result, our class catalog today is offered in multiple instructional formats. At the undergraduate level, about one-quarter of our classes are delivered in virtual format — and these often are among the very first sections to fill. We have learned that our students seek classes in multiple instructional formats, not one format alone. Consequently, it has altered our academic planning — in fact, it has accelerated a phenomenon that we previously envisioned would slowly accrue. This also has been the experience of many colleges and universities across the country, not just Mason. Concurrently, we accelerated the provisions of other student services in multiple formats including student advising, success coaching, telehealth appointments and other services focused on the needs of our students. We have reconsidered all of our student services, and many student activities in ways that have transformed — in tangible and positive ways — the student experience at Mason.

Life has indeed changed — especially at our university. COVID forced us to invent and reinvent. Most recently, we leveraged and built on the successes of our new experiences, which leads me to the underlying theme of my work as Provost.


Historically, the “provost” was the “jailer” in a community and the person who had responsibility for the prison. This definition took my breath away when I first learned of it. I never viewed myself as, nor is my personal identity, associated with such a role. However, it is true that some may even believe that a university provost still serves that purpose in their institution!

Although Provosts need to set limits and define boundaries, the role of the Provost traditionally is regarded to be as the Chief Academic Officer of their university (Clayton, 2019). At Mason, that is my role. I oversee the entire educational enterprise including academic and research programs, the libraries, university life and student services and most everything that relates directly to the Mason student experience.

Although academic excellence and educational attainment is the essence of my portfolio, another role that I choose is to serve as the university’s Chief Success Officer. I believe my role is to ensure that students are successful as they navigate and progress through their academic programs and that our faculty and staff have the tools and resources to succeed as educators, researchers and scholars. It has been my experience that a focus on the success of others is consistent with the notion of a “servant leadership.” I subscribe to the notion that the most effective leaders are those who serve

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others while promoting their success and associated substantive achievements.

Since I became Provost in April 2020, our university has continued to evolve and grow. In July 2020, we welcomed Gregory Washington as our eighth President. Concurrent within his arrival at Mason, we continued strengthening our many university initiatives, including growing our capacity to help students experiencing personal challenges and providing increased financial aid in support of our students. We have also reviewed and enhanced our academic programs, including a recent enhancement of the Mason Core program, and have begun many other new programs designed to prepare our students for career and life success. In addition, we also opened new facilities, renovated others and began a master planning process to help us envision our campus in the future.

Throughout all of this, COVID provided a platform that elevated the work we undertake. While I am proud that we had among the lowest COVID infection rates of large universities in the nation, I am even more proud that our students continued their path to a degree with enviable academic achievement. And our faculty and staff, despite incredible challenges, also continued their trajectory of steady success.

We have been careful, we have been intentional, we have been strategic, and we have been unrelenting in the pursuit of excellence. This focus will continue and I hope that our students’ experience reflects that intent.

I am proud to be part of Mason Nation and to have served our university in a senior leadership position since 2010, first as the Dean of our College of Education and Human Development for a decade and now as Provost and Executive Vice President. More than ever before, we must continue on our path toward “greater greatness.”

Mason is vibrant, energized and poised to continue its path forward. If you have not yet viewed our latest video that captures the spirit of our university, I invite you to view it at this link: (George Mason University, 2022).

As the video declares, Mason is “All Together Different.”

I look forward to the new academic year, to continued success and achievement, and to our students having an inspiring Mason experience. As President Washington often says, “It is Mason’s Time” and I agree. Mason’s history is one of resilience. As we look to the future, I have no doubt we will be an example of innovation, relevance and success to institutions of higher education and beyond.

u LEARN MORE about Provost Ginsberg:





Major: Biology

Class of 2022


LGBTQ+ youth are at an increased risk for suicide due to a variety of stressors that are rooted in stigma and intolerance of their sexual and/or gender identities. Combatting LGBTQ+ youth suicide requires decreasing stigma and addressing existing socioeconomic issues through public policy, but that will take political will and time. In contrast, cultivating resilience can occur immediately, help mediate the negative effects of these struggles, and create protective factors against suicide. I discuss existing suicide prevention framework, and practices that cultivate resilience through social support, self-care, and finding meaning. I also suggest examining social media, especially Tik Tok, to deliver resilience enhancing education and to expand literature to identify specific, efficacious resilience practices within the LGBTQ+ community to help reduce the tragically high rate of suicide and suicide ideation.



In 2021, the Trevor Project (TP), a crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer & questioning (LGBTQ) people under 25, released findings from their National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health. The study, which surveyed roughly 35,000 LGBTQ youth (13-24) across the United States, found that 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered suicide in the past year, with transgender and nonbinary youth populations having a suicide ideation


rate over 50%.1 The Trevor Project’s data corroborates with a systematic review of the LGBTQ youth suicide, which found transgender youth were 5.87 times more likely to attempt suicide compared to heterosexual youth, and overall, LGBTQ youth were 3.5 times more likely to attempt suicide.2

Risk factors for suicide in LGBTQ+ youth stem from general stressors along with lack of acceptance and intolerance that leads to discrimination, anxiety, depression, bullying, self-harm, substance abuse, isolation, conversion therapy, food insecurity, homelessness, internalized homophobia, and a lack of outlets to receive support to mitigate these issues.1,3-7 Minority stress theory helps explain the unique stressors faced by the LGBT community and the adverse mental and physical health effects that result and contribute to suicide ideation.8 Some risk factors for suicide are experienced more by certain groups within LGBTQ youth.1 LGBTQ youth of color endure additional stressors on the basis of race, especially Black and Indigenous LGBTQ youth.1,8 This is seen where TP found that while 72% and 62% of LGBTQ youth experienced symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and depression respectively, LGBTQ youth of color were less likely to have access to mental healthcare and more likely to face discrimination.1,8 Transgender & nonbinary youth also experience additional stressors due to gender identity compared to cisgender youth, living with greater food insecurity and being subjected to higher rates of conversion therapy.1, 8 To help mitigate these challenges, TP and other crisis lines are available to support the immediate mental health crises of LGBTQ+ youth.


The National Suicide Prevention Hotline (NSPH), The Trevor Project (TP), and Crisis Text Line (CTL) are three notable suicide prevention crisis lines. While the NSPH and TP offer both text and call support, CTL is entirely text-based.9,10 Of the three, TP is specifically tailored for LGBTQ youth.1 However, in CTL’s 2020 annual report, they noted that 45% of overall conversations were from LGBTQ+ identifying people, and 75% of overall conversations were from people 24 and younger.9 While not all conversations on this platform are suicide related, the issues often discussed are risk factors for suicide such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, and self-harm.3,4,5,9

Assessing the efficacy of some of these platforms remains a challenge. A systematic literature review of the effectiveness of crisis lines found that it was difficult to assess the effectiveness of crisis lines at preventing suicide in the long run, though in the immediate, results supported that these types of services were useful.10 However, there is not much information that deliberately measures the impact of crisis lines at stopping LGBTQ+ suicide.

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Another important factor to consider in the context of LGBTQ+ Youth Suicide Prevention is the impact of public policy. When same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015, suicide ideation amongst LGBTQ youth decreased.7,11 Conversely, the same is true, as anti-LGBTQ legislation can increase risk for suicidality by encouraging stigma.6,7 Therefore, legislation focused on affirming LGBTQ+ identity and alleviating the socioeconomic struggles affecting the health of LGBTQ+ youth would greatly benefit LGBTQ+ suicide prevention, but these efforts are challenged by the recent slew of anti-LGBTQ legislation.12


Resilience is commonly defined as the process of positively adapting or coping despite the stressors and adversity one experiences.13 A person’s social circles, selfcare practices, and sense of meaning compose important roles in their individual resilience.13,14 Having and practicing resilience helps buffer the negative effects of stress and stress related disorders, such as anxiety and depression, through biopsychosocial mechanisms, resulting in better well-being and secondarily reduce the risk of suicide.13-15 The extra benefit of resilience is its plasticity, meaning it is not static, and can be cultivated.13

Community resilience, known as the strategies by which a community helps foster and maintain well-being, is also important in the context of LGBTQ+ youth, as individual resilience can be limited by minority stressors.14 For LGBT youth, community resilience is affected by visibility, role models, community values, and access to LGBT specific resources.14 To best maximize the protective factors that result from resilience, both individual and community resilience must be cultivated. I provide a non-exhaustive list of specific individual resilience practices along with protective factors against suicide in Table 1(page 17). Some of the resilience practices are general, while others are LGBTQ+ specific and relate to the tenets of community resilience. The relationship between the protective factors against suicide, both interpersonal and intrapersonal, with resilience practices is imperative to highlight. Often times, what falls under the umbrella term of resilience directly affects well-documented suicide protective factors.6,13

Resilience practices can also occur between the pillars simultaneously. For example, if someone were a part of an LGBTQ+ identity organization which hosted run clubs or meditation times, the impact of such practices on the overall well-being and resilience of that person would be especially impactful.

Noting the possible mixed effects of navigating faith-based organizations for


TABLE 1: Resilience Practices & Suicide Protective Factors

• Finding affirming friends and connecting with supportive family members. 1, 3, 4, 13, 14, 16

• Running, weight lifting, yoga, or any form of exercise. 1, 13

• Connecting with a spiritual group, cultural org, or faith-based organization. 1, 13

NonExhaustive List of Resilience Practices

• Joining organizations & support groups that relate to individual interests and reflect individual identity. 1, 13, 14, 16

• Having access to supportive, affirming physical & mental healthcare providers. 3, 4, 13, 14, 16

• Crisis Lines like Trevor Project, Crisis Text Line, & National Suicide Prevention Hotline. 10

• Getting appropriate amounts of sleep and resting. 13

• Meditation & breathing exercises. 13

• Eating nutritional foods. 1,13

• Doing an activity that brings joy and offers a form of expression: reading, drawing, writing, creating etc. 1, 13

• Cognitive reframing of stressors. 13

• Volunteering and supporting others. 13

• Developing dreams and ambitions for one’s life. 13, 16

• Actively recognizing and building selfworth. 1, 13, 16

• Participating in LGBTQ rights activism. 3, 14, 16

• Availability of effective, culturally appropriate physical and mental healthcare providers. 3, 4, 6, 13, 14, 16

• Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide. 1, 3, 4, 6, 13

• Acceptance and support from family, friends, and community; having pronouns respected. 1, 3, 4, 6, 14

• Positive role models and LGBTQ visibility. 3, 6, 14

• Self-care & problem-solving skills. 3, 4, 13, 14, 16

LGBTQ+ youth is important as well. Engaging with such an organization is not required to find meaning or community, but it is a commonly suggested practice in resilience education. To maximize the protective factors against suicide for LGBTQ+ youth, careful consideration of faith-based organizations’ affirmation of LGBTQ+ identity is imperative. Religious institutions have systemically oppressed LGBTQ+ people through encouraging intolerance, discrimination, conversion therapy, and contributing to sexual abuse.1,17 These actions harm the well-being of LGBTQ+ youth and contribute to LGBTQ+ suicidality.1-7

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Resilience Category Social Self-Care
Suicide Protective Factors


A systematic review of school-based resilience promotion education found students had more self-efficacy, increased usage and effectiveness of coping skills, and mental health protective factors after receiving resilience enhancing sessions.18 For LGBTQ+ youth, delivery of this education could occur through gay-straight-alliances (GSAs) which already serve as a protective factor.3,19 However, GSAs are not always available. Students of color and students living in the South have significant less access to GSAs, but are also among the greatest students of need to help improve mental health and well-being.20

LGBTQ+ community centers and health clinics can also provide important social support, resources, and care for LGBTQ+ youth, but like school GSAs, these are not always available and can also be dependent upon access to transportation, health insurance, and other socioeconomic resources that LGBTQ+ youth have disparities in.1 Increasing LGBTQ+ cultural competency in health providers and reducing unconscious and conscious biases also remains a crucial, yet ongoing effort.7,21 It is incredibly disheartening when LGBTQ+ youth finally muster the bravery to receive the healthcare they deserve, only to be rejected and invalidated by a practitioner who does not accept their right to exist. In many ways, the rejection and invalidation experienced by LGBTQ+ youth in a health clinic, a vulnerable place that should be safe and nurturing, can severely harm their self-worth and views of themselves, increasing risk of anxiety, depression, and suicide.1,4,6 In contrast, having a health provider that affirms, validates, and supports LGBTQ+ youth identity can cultivate social resilience, also leading to vital healthcare treatments and resources, resulting in improved well-being and increased resilience. 3,4,6,13,14,16 Therefore, it is imperative that in the conversation of LGBTQ+ youth suicide prevention, health systems and practitioners fight antiLGBTQ+ sentiment as much as possible, as it will lead to increased resilience and help reduce the risk of suicide in LGBTQ+ youth.

The Internet, specifically social media platforms and online communities, also play an important role in LGBTQ youth resilience and well-being. TP found that for LGBTQ youth, 71% had access to online affirming communities compared to 47% at school and 33% at home.1 Therefore, I believe that delivering resilience enhancing education through the community’s highly utilized social media platforms would significantly help LGBTQ+ youth manage their life’s challenges and create protective factors against suicide. This is corroborated by a study which reviewed social media habits of LGBTQ+ youth, indicating that younger LGBTQ+ people are more likely to use social media to enhance well-being than their older counterparts.22 Specifically, utilization of social media and the Internet helps connect LGBTQ+ youth to information regarding their identities, to feel stronger, to learn, and to have a sense


of community.22 Social media can therefore act as a tool for building social support, promote individual resilience enhancing education, and build community resilience for the LGBTQ+ youth community.

One particular app that I implore future research on is Tik Tok. Tik Tok is a newer social media platform whose utilization is not greatly studied in LGBTQ+ youth, but in the Washington Post, columnist Olheiser describes how “Tik Tok has become the soul of the LGBTQ internet.”23 I believe studying LGBTQ+ youth Tik Tok utilization would update existing literature and must be assessed for the application’s ability to promote individual and community resilience. Tik Tok uses an algorithm that connects users to content reflecting their interests, creating LGBTQ visibility, community, and could therefore lead to protective factors against suicide.23 TP’s 2021 survey also found that LGBTQ youth mentioned watching LGBTQ people on Tik Tok and YouTube as a way to find joy, strength, and consequently develop resilience.1 It would also be beneficial to further study this app specifically, along with other highly utilized social media platforms to see how they could be negatively impacting LGBTQ+ youth as well.

I also believe more needs to be studied about LGBTQ+ youth utilization of swipebased dating applications (SBDAs) and Grindr. Specifically, Grindr, a location-based app commonly used for hookups, can affect individual’s body image, lead to feelings of objectification, and social comparison.24 SBDA users have higher levels of anxiety and depression, though causality remains uncertain.25 This could be an element that negatively affects both community resilience and individual resilience and well-being of LGBTQ+ youth since these apps allow for LGBTQ+ specific connection. To better explore the impact of resilience practices, social media, SBDAs, and Grindr, I suggest a full list of research suggestions in Table 2 (page 20)


Minority stress theory helps explain how societal intolerance manifests into socioeconomic and intrapersonal stressors of LGBTQ+ youth that create risk factors for suicide which public policy and system-approaches could relieve. Ensuring LGBTQ+ have appropriate, culturally competent healthcare is a vital part in this discussion. However, such efforts could require significant time, while the needs of LGBTQ+ youth are immediate. Cultivating resilience in LGBTQ+ youth could serve as an immediate, effective suicide prevention method by encouraging community, fostering meaning, and inculcating self-care practices that lead to protective factors against suicide. Future research should highlight and differentiate the most efficacious resilience practices, and focus on how Tik Tok, SBDAs, and Grindr can affect resilience and suicide ideation, with the guiding principle to stop LGBTQ+ youth suicide.

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TABLE 2: Future Research Suggestions on Resilience & Social Media

Research Categories

in LGBTQ+ Youth

Future Research Questions

• What are the most efficacious individual resilience practices to reduce minority stress for LGBTQ+ youth?

• How do resilience-based education outcomes differ by race, sexual orientation, & gender identity for LGBTQ+ youth?

• What socioeconomic factors contribute to resilience-based education efficacy for LGBTQ+ youth?

ResilienceBased Practices

• How do LGBTQ+ youth feel about religious institutions and their ability to promote resilience?

• What are examples of LGBTQ+ affirming religious and faith-based organizations?

• What aspects of life contribute most to individual LGBTQ+ youth meaning?

• How does LGBTQ+ culture influence well-being and resiliency in LGBTQ+ youth?

• How do LGBTQ+ youth cope with anti-LGBTQ+ legislation?

• How does Tik Tok affect the well-being of LGBTQ+ youth?

• How does Tik Tok affect suicide ideation and prevention in LGBTQ+ youth?

• How often do LGBTQ+ youth use hookup/dating apps like Grindr, Bumble, and Tinder?

Social Media

Utilization in LGBTQ+ Youth

• What effects do Grindr, Bumble, and Tinder have on the well-being and resilience of LGBTQ+ youth?

• Does Grindr usage serve as a risk factor for suicide in GBTQ+ youth?

• How effective is [YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok, Snapchat, Twitter] at promoting resilience enhancing education for LGBTQ+ youth?

• Who are the most important role models on social media for LGBTQ+ youth?

• How do resilience-based education outcomes differ by social media app delivery?


Studies cited in this paper reflect a variety of acronyms and descriptions to refer to sexual minorities ranging from LGBT, LGBTQ, to LGBTQ+. In order to avoid any confusion or misinterpretation of data, I chose to use the identifiers listed from each study. However, when sharing results of multiple studies and implications in future research, I chose to use the term LGBTQ+.



This paper was supported in part by the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) Program at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, Athens, Ohio. Special thanks to my mentor Melissa K. Thomas, PhD, MSPH, MSA, MCHES, Assistant Professor, Department of Primary Care, OU-HCOM.

Sources for this and all other papers can be found in the combined “Sources” section that begins on page 134.

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Major: Government and International Politics

Concentration: Public Policy

Minor: American Sign Language Class of 2023


During the COVID-19 pandemic, in conjunction with ever increasing political polarization, the majority of the public deviated further into an online information environment, amplifying the volatility of digital sources. Given the prevalence of misinformation, it is vital to thoroughly understand the role this heightened transaction cost plays in its increased consumption. In evaluating the paths taken to misinformation, a key player has gone broadly unevaluated: paywalls — a barrier to information that, while allowing media companies to conduct business, also heightens the transaction cost in acquiring information. To what extent do paywalls in online content affect the consumption of misinformation? In this study, the author will examine the impact of paywalls in two parts; first, by constructing a statistical profile of demographics who are more likely to accept misinformation, and second by conducting a qualitative survey of various subjects’ responses to paywalls, noting each response outcome as either positive (successfully identified credible alternative) or negative (chose false or misleading information or abandoned search entirely). The twofold process allows susceptibility to misinformation and practical response to paywalls to be evaluated in conjunction, creating a critical bridge between the two areas of literature. By approaching the issue in both a quantitative and qualitative method, the findings will allow the complex psychological decision-making process to be more accurately captured and applied to


the mitigation process. We expect to find significant correlation between those who are likely to believe misinformation and respondents with negative reactions to paywalls.


In modern American life, hardly anyone is untouched by misinformation — it permeates our news, social media feeds, and daily interaction with others. The internet has become, for most Americans, the primary source of information (O’Brien et al., 2020), with 67% of people “substantially increasing” their online news consumption in 2020 alone (Flew, 2021, p. 12). This substantial deviation into an online information environment has failed to mitigate the framework by which citizens interact with content at a rate that adequately addresses the risks posed.

While online misinformation has always been abundant, the dominant presence of online news media is a relatively new concept (Flew, 2021, p. 13). In evaluating the paths taken to misinformation, a key player has gone broadly unevaluated: paywalls — a barrier to information that, while allowing media companies to conduct business, also heightens the transaction cost in acquiring information. While economic factors will clearly impact responses to paywalls, what has largely gone unexplored is the psychological barriers that paywalls impose on consumers, and, most critically, what results due to those barriers

The year 2020 best exemplified the visible effects of misinformation. The social withdrawal that came as a result from the COVID-19 pandemic not only reduced face to face interaction — it established the internet as more than just a source of information, but as a social hub. The rapid socialization of information created ideal conditions for misinformation. Socialized internet information is extremely volatile with potential for intense subjectivity, elevating sources with a lack of credibility to the same level as credibly renowned news outlets.

This transformative aberration occurred at a time in which information was more vital than ever. 2020 was a major year for American democracy, as the 2020 presidential race tested the norms of electoral politics and the institutional forbearance of American government. In addition, a raging pandemic made accessible and credible medical advice a resource that could determine, quite literally, if someone lives or dies. In this context, understanding misinformation environments is critical. Whether that be through the storming of the United States Capitol under the false belief of a stolen election, or through the denial of a lifesaving vaccine, misinformation is more than just conspiracy; it is costly, dangerous, and in many instances deadly.

In the following paper, the author will explore the existing literature on paywalls, misinformation, and the ways they interact. The academic and legislative community

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cannot propose solutions to reduce the consumption of misinformation without a thorough understanding of where it occurs; in a similar faction, media cannot provide alternative outlets without considering their business models. Thus, by exploring these concepts thematically, they can be compared in conjunction and association. The literature review will focus on the following areas in order: the demographics impacted by paywalls, the measurement of quality information, the concept of willingness to pay versus capacity to pay, and the psychological factors that distinguish these two from each other in the decision-making process.



As information rapidly deviated to online platforms, traditionally printed newspapers pivoted to digital content in order to remain accessible and profitable. The central dilemma with this transformation is determining how to continue profiting as a business without losing customers, who now have more options than ever before. Thus, newspapers have increasingly deployed what are known as “paywalls” before allowing consumers to read their content (Pattabhiramaiah et al., 2019). By imposing these barriers, media companies gain two things: a profitable business modal, and the perception of higher quality. Generally speaking, when information is guarded behind a paywall, it is perceived to be more credible (Pattabhiramaiah et al., 2019). However, context has begun to strain these models; “We observe that the institutional capacity to produce news through traditional channels is facing a resourcing crisis with the collapse of traditional business models, yet the demand for news remains high and has increased in the context of COVID-19, we can see a ‘news gap’ that can be filled by a range of outlets, including fake news” (Flew, 2021, p. 19). Further, the monetization of information means that news outlets have two viable options to maintain profits: use information perceived and verified as high quality to incentivize consumers, or use a strategy in which journalists “hunt for clicks by following what is out there online and what might get … readers’ attention” (Vobič & Milojević, 2014, p. 1032). Both strategies rely heavily on the judgement of the user in their outcome, placing the dilemma in each individual decision between transaction cost and perceived benefit.

Existing literature suggests that the best definition of misinformation would be “information considered incorrect based on the best available evidence from relevant experts at the time” (Vraga & Bode, 2020, p. 138). This is specifically applicable because it distinguishes the opinions of the public from that of experts in a field, an essential distinction considering that it is the public who are our case in this study. By placing


more emphasis on the opinions of experts, deliberate and factual consensus defines the truth rather than the public, thus reducing chances of misidentifying misinformation

While news consumption increased in 2020, so did social media usage — with 44% of the global population “substantially increasing” their usage of social media (Flew, 2021, p. 12). In conjunction with this occurrence, English language fact checks increased by 900% (Luengo & García-Marín, 2020). The credibility of information circulated via social media lacks proper vetting — it essentially circumvents the previous definition by allowing the public to define truth for themselves, with little to no mitigation. Thus, the discrepancy in incentives can be seen as “emanating from the behavior of platforms, rather than the attitudes of users” (Flew, 2021, p. 15). In this way, identifying the most common alternative sources is vital to mapping the outlets through which individuals learn of misinformation; because quality varies by incentives, solutions must keep these incentives in mind to prevent further distortion.


The most important outcome of this study lies in who is most susceptible to misinformation. Given that both explicit and implicit factors will contribute to decision making, demographics provide insight into implicit and identity-based choices, while explicit factors such as political orientation provide the other half of a person’s background.

Explicit factors, such as race, age, gender, education, and media use (including past payments or P.P), are generally easy to quantify and measure. A key gap in literature, however, lies in the more implicit and subjective factors that make up ones decision making path, such as paying intent (PI) and willingness to pay (WTP) (Flew, 2021). Demographics allow a key justification for the implicit psychological factors that stem from a person’s personality type, identity, and political orientation.


The most key distinction in identifying the factors weighed in the decision-making process lies in the difference between ability to pay for journalism and the willingness to do so. Existing literature heavily explored the socioeconomic impacts of access to journalism but notes that conventional wisdom about the impact of economic factors places too much emphasis on the quantitative measure of economic security “because it relies on a few crude indicators that fail to capture how individuals perceive their personal economic situation” (Wroe, 2016, p. 3). The most effective factors in measuring willingness versus ability are the previously mentioned variables of paying

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intent (PI) and willingness to pay (WTP). Note that these variables do not rely on the economic capacity of an individual directly; while financial capabilities may play a role in decisions, it is ultimately the subjective subfactors that determine the outcome. One study identifies 17 factors that influence this decision, divided into subcategories of consumer-based, product-based, and economic factors, including age, gender, education, media use, news interest, experience, brand image, free mentality, format, personalization, ease of use, exclusiveness, perceived quality, specialization, paywall, income, and price (O’Brien et al., 2020). For the sake of a more thorough modal, this study will add two additional factors: race and political party.

Status quo suggests that “news consumption has grown faster than the market can match — resulting in a wide gap between availability of information and the demand for it” (Pattabhiramaiah et al., 2019, p. 16). Because of this discrepancy, news outlets must continue to compete to find a balance between their ability to offer information versus the willingness of their consumers to purchase it. Understanding this tradeoff is essential to proposing solutions.


Often left unsaid are the motivations of the perpetrators of misinformation – the acknowledgement that online platforms allow psychological reasoning factors to take a backseat to momentary whims is widely understood by figures and weaponized against their political opposition. With intense political polarization and national tension, information environments are already interpreted skeptically – but, in this context digital spaces seem to increase the “irrationality” of the public (Luengo & GarcíaMarín, 2020, p. 420). As a result, social media platforms become political tools for disseminating misleading information and polarizing audiences. In conjunction with this weaponization is a rapidly decreasing trust in traditional media outlets, with the United States citizens decreasing their trust in media outlets by an estimated 21% in 2020 (Flew, 2021, p. 13).

Platform abuse and misinformation amplification is especially relevant considering the widespread reach and influence of politicians, public figures, and celebrities. In a study conducted by the Reuters Institute and Oxford University in which 250 flagged posts involving COVID-19 misinformation, it was found that while these groups made up 20% of misinformation claims, they accounted for 69% of the total social media engagement (Brennen et al., n.d., p. 1). The faces and ethos associated with information — particularly, free information — creates an easily identifiable outlet through which consumers can weigh value with very little transaction cost, again emphasizing the role of this tradeoff in the psychological decision making process, and


the implicit biases of the audiences.

The essential moment — when a person is seeking information, clicks on content, and is met with a paywall — becomes not one of intense calculation with the consideration of social susceptibility to misinformation, but rather a quick decision between several choices: 1) To increase transaction costs and take the time and resources to get through the paywall. 2) Seek information elsewhere. 3) Abandon the search entirely.

By viewing this critical juncture through a lens of demographics, we can then measure what groups view an increased transaction cost as a suitable tradeoff for higher quality information. The psychological implications of paywalls as impediments to quality information — and thus, a motivating factor in consumption of misinformation — is drastically under researched (O’Brien et al., 2020). The rationality behind news selection rests entirely on the psychological pathways a person may form. Without aiming to measure these factors, it is impossible to identify the true causes of an increased market for false information. By viewing all these factors in conjunction and interaction, we will begin to answer the question: To what extent do paywalls in online content affect the consumption of misinformation?


The most appropriate path to answering this question involves a twofold response; one of both qualitative and quantitative data. Using the 17-factor approach in the O’Brien study with the additional factors of race and party identification, creating a 19-factor profile of a case. Secondly, a survey approach will ask if the respondent agrees with certain statements, including a mix of true and false claims based on current events. Then, the 19 factors will be graphed as dependent variables, where the rate of correct identification of misinformation is the independent variable. This method will establish a quantitative profile of individuals who are more likely to believe false or misleading information at a statistically significant rate based on demographic features.

Once this profile has been established, the process of qualitative data begins. A second round of surveys will ask a different random sample about their various responses when faced with online paywalls in a variety of contexts, particularly the responses that occur at the point of interest, which was established during the literature review. Each response will fall in one of the three categories discussed — get through the paywall, seek information elsewhere, or abandon the search entirely, with the second option holding the most potential for misinformation to emerge. These responses can then be compared to the statistical profile of those who are most likely to accept misinformation — if the respondents who react to paywalls by consuming less credible news sources match with the statistically established profile, a clearer picture of the psychological

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pathways emerge by drawing connections between barriers and perceived solutions. The twofold process allows susceptibility to misinformation and practical response to paywalls to be evaluated in conjunction, creating a critical bridge between the two areas of literature. We expect to find significant correlation between those who are likely to believe misinformation and respondents with negative reactions to paywalls.


Addressing misinformation is vital to the long-term cohesion of society. Without a unified set of acceptable facts, there remains no foundation for collaboration, discussion, and development. As the “infodemic” continues to spread virally, scholars must act with deliberate speed to identify causes, outlets, and solutions to the significant increase in misinformation — as well as individuals’ susceptibility to it.

Paywalls, and the obstacles they impose to quality information, must be considered as viable catalysts of this problem. The context of inaccessible information, and the incentives it imposes to consume more easily accessible and possibly less credible information, is especially relevant in a time in which consumers have unlimited sources to select from. By establishing a clearer picture of the process that leads an individual to consume misinformation, scholars and policy makers can take considerable steps to prevent others from doing the same.



In 1957, George Mason opened as a branch of the University of Virginia, with just 17 students! Today, Mason serves over 39,000 students from 130 countries and all 50 states.



Major: Government and International Politics

Concentration: International Relations

Minor: Global Affairs

Class of 2023 ABSTRACT

This paper analyzes the question of whether one’s race impacts one’s confidence level in America’s education system. Specifically, if black Americans have less confidence in America’s education system versus white Americans. Using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) and scholarly articles, we statistically analyze the two variables to determine if there is a correlation. The end result of my data analysis did not support my hypothesis that black Americans have less confidence in America’s education system versus white Americans, however, it does support the fact that race has a relationship with one’s level of confidence in education.


Do African Americans show less confidence in the United State’s education system? This has been complex yet continuous research, but the answer to this question can further acknowledge a problem in America’s education. This paper theorizes that race is a predominant factor as to why African Americans are more likely to show less confidence in the education system and the following theoretical concepts support this hypothesis:

1. Better educational opportunities in white institutions during the 1960s:

During the 1960s when African Americans first were granted the opportunity


to have an education, black students began to enroll in predominantly white schools rather than choosing to attend historically black institutions. This was generally because of the greater opportunities that were accomplished through these white institutions, and how it was widely known that black institutions during the 1960s were purposely underfunded, understaffed, and established to separate the achievement gap between white and black students (Hartney & Flavin, 2013).

2. Reduced fundings towards education in low-income cities: Low-income cities, most of which are predominantly black, tend to have less funding towards their education, compared to its higher-income, more predominantly white counterparts. This creates an achievement gap between black and white students, furthering racial disparities in education (Hartney & Flavin, 2013).

3. Racial Prejudice in Academics: Not only do underserved black families in America face racial prejudice inside of academic settings, but many black Americans still face racial discrimination in higher levels of education like being subjected to slurs and jokes, being seen as if they were not smart enough compared to their peers, and being unfairly suspected by their teachers, peers, and polices on campus. (Anderson; 2019).

While I theorize that race is a determinant of an individual’s confidence level in America’s education system, there are also numerous intervening variables that can alter the way we see the dependent variable. For example, income is a good intervening variable to act as a control group as it will be used to interpret the independent and dependent variables in SPSS. Despite my hypothesis, I hypothesize that higher income black Americans will have more confidence in America’s education system rather than lower-income black Americans.

I am aware of my limitations throughout this paper and acknowledge the fact that race cannot stand on its own in comparison to one’s level of confidence in education, as there are many complex variables that surround racial bias and inequality. That being said, this paper does not attempt to “prove” the hypothesis to be true, but rather uses existing research data to support the once questioned hypothesis.


Public trust in education has fluctuated throughout the years. While there are many variables to choose from for an independent variable, it is hopeful that supporting

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variables like age, income, ideology, achievement rate, and demographics are supportive to the independent variable of race and how a person’s color affects their level of confidence in education. This literature review attempts to look back at past research and add to the question of if race determines one’s level of confidence in education and if African Americans tend to have less confidence in education.

Joshua Klugman and Jun Xu (2008) reviewed confidence levels in education between white and black Americans from 1974-2002. They theorized and tested that presidency, income, and higher education levels were associated with one’s level of confidence in their education. In contrast to my theory, Klugman and Xu hypothesized white Americans were more likely to have less confidence in education, as they tended to be more conservative, more religious, and have more income than black Americans, making them more critical towards education. Klugman and Xu’s data stated that white Americans’ confidence in education was always lower than black Americans, but while both white and black confidence had lowered between the years 1974-2002, many variables caused it to fluctuate (Klugman & Xu; 2008).

For example, the variable presidency was correlated with the fluctuating levels of confidence. They claimed that during Republican presidencies, whites were more confident in their education than blacks, rather than when Democrat Jimmy Carter and Democrat Bill Clinton came into office in 1977 and 1992, black confidence significantly increased as white confidence lowered. Overall, Klugman and Xu concluded that white Americans had lower confidence in education than black Americans (Klugman & Xu; 2008).

David R. Johnson and Jared L. Peifer (2015) succeeded Klugman and Xu’s theory and tested whether political ideology, religion, income, and demographics were associated with the confidence level of education (Johnson & Peifer; 2015). They both argued against Klugman and Xu and claimed that blacks had an overall lower level of trust in education compared to whites. Using income as a controlled variable, they both found that higher-income, more conservative blacks had a higher level of trust. Johnson and Peifer stated that with using blacks and education as covariates, they were the only variables that had significantly low levels of confidence. It was concluded that simply due to inequality within secondary and primary education for black students, blacks were more likely to be untrusting towards education, especially in higher-level institutions (Johnson and Peifer; 2015).

Jean W. Yeung and Dalton Conley (2008) explored the black-white achievement gap to see if there was any correlation between family income and the gap between black-white achievement in education. Three variables, occupation, income, and socioeconomic status, were the main determinants to one’s achievement rate. (Yeung & Conley; 2008). Based on the results, black students had significantly lower levels


of academic achievements compared to white students. It was concluded that racial disparity in wealth was clear between black and white families with the way that white families were more likely to have a higher level of academic achievement because of their higher level of income and status.

In conjunction with Yeung and Conley’s hypothesis, Michael T. Hartney and Patrick Flavin (2013) furthered the belief that political ideology and political foundations separated the black-white academic achievement gap, thus causing black families to have a lack of trust in their education. They theorized that due to the states’ legislators lack of attention to improving school resources and teacher quality for underserved, black families, this was a determinant to their lagging achievement rates. It was concluded that not only were education reform policies more responsive towards white communities rather than black communities, but whites were more likely to dismiss the identity of a racial achievement gap. (Hartney & Flavin; 2013). As a result, systematic political inequalities distinguished the academic achievement gap between blacks and whites.

James P. Huguley, Eric Kyere, and Ming Te-Wang (2018) agreed with Hartney and Flavin in terms of black Americans’ lower levels of confidence, yet investigated that parental confidence in their children’s long-term education determined educational outcomes within black students. They theorized that because black parents were more likely to have lower confidence in both their children’s long-term and shortterm education, they were more likely to have less achievement in their education. It was suggested that the lack of confidence towards higher level education by black parents had more of an effect towards their children’s academic achievement. Because of their opinion towards educational disadvantages and racial achievement disparities in higher level education for black students, black students tended to lagged behind white students in terms of overall academic success (Huguley et al., 2018).


I hypothesize that race is the dominant factor of one’s level of confidence in education. Furthermore, because I hypothesize that black Americans are more likely to have less confidence in education in contrast to white Americans, the null hypothesis is that there is no correlation between one’s race and levels of confidence in education. To test the hypothesis, I will have to use the variables race_2 (race: black / white) as my independent variable and coneduc (confidence in education) as the dependent variable in data set GSS 2012 within SPSS. The independent variable race_2 is a dichotomous variable that asks respondents to identify themselves as white or black. The ordinal dependent variable coneduc is categorized by a great deal, only some, and hardly any.

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However, I will recode coneduc to coneduc3 so that it reads as hardly any, only some, and a great deal.

To confirm or reject the null hypothesis, we will have to use various forms of measurement. Because this is an ordinal by dichotomous variable, we will use Chisquare and Phi to measure the significance and strength of association between race and confidence in education. I want to be at least 99% confident that I can reject the null hypothesis, therefore, I will need to have an alpha value of .001 or lower. If an alpha value of .001 or lower can be identified, then I am less likely to make a type 1 error and will further calculate strength and direction between the two variables.

While I hypothesize that race is a determinant of one’s level of confidence in education, I have yet to consider other variables that might affect one’s opinion. In previous research, a person’s income has been a recurring variable to measure one’s level of confidence in education. In this case, income will be used as a control variable in SPSS. The ordinal variable rincom06 ranges from under $1,000 to $150,000 and over. Since there are twenty-five categories, I have recoded this to rincom3 and into 3 categories: low income (under $1,000-$12,499), middle income ($12,500-$49,000), and high income ($50,000-over $150,000). Recoding the control variable to have fewer categories as an ordinal variable will allow the variables to compare with one another effectively and efficiently.

As Michael A. Miner (2020) and Johnson and Peifer hypothesized in their research, I also believe that black Americans who have more income are more likely to be confident in education than lower income black Americans (Miner; 2020). Because higher income individuals are able to afford better education and resources, I hypothesize that they will have more confidence in education than those who have lower income and cannot afford better education and resources. To test significance, I will have to use both Chi-square and Phi again to check for significance and strength of association.


Using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), I have conducted two data analyses. The first analysis will be conducted with the dichotomous independent variable race_2 that asks respondents if they identify as white or black, and the recoded ordinal dependent variable coneduc3 that measures level of confidence in education.

Using SPSS to conduct the first statistical analysis between the independent and dependent variables, the results are as follows. The cross tabulation, bar chart, and statistical tests goes against how I expected the variables to be related. Table 1.1 in the first row shows that white Americans (17.7%) have less confidence in education than black Americans (11.1%). Table 1.1 in the last row, black Americans (36%) shows


more confidence in education than white Americans (21.8%). It is noteworthy that in Table 1.1 in the second row, over half of the respondents (58.3%) are in the middle in terms of their confidence in education. There is a statistically significant relationship, as X2(4) is 33.388 with the degrees of freedom being 4, and the p-value being less than .001. The alpha-value allows us to be at least 99% confident to reject the null

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TABLE 1.1: Confidence in Education by Race (white/black) a,b CHART 1.1: Confidence in Education by Race (white/black)

hypothesis and not make a Type 1 error, as the relationship between the variables does exist in the population. However, although we are at least 99% confident that there is a relationship between race and levels of confidence, it does not support my hypothesis that black Americans have less confidence in education.

In Table 1.1, the degree of the relationship is calculated in Phi. As Phi = .159, this shows a weak relationship between the two variables. This confirms that although there is a statistically significant correlation between race and their levels of confidence in education, it is a rather weak relationship. Overall, my hypothesis that black Americans are more likely to have less confidence in education was not supported by the data analysis. Because Phi calculates the degree of the relationship, there are other potential explanations that I could use to alter the dependent variable, which brings me to my control variable rincom3.

TABLE 2.1: Analysis 2- Introduction to Control Variable


For the second analysis, income was introduced as a control variable and the results are as follows. As seen in Table 2.1, there are many differences between low income Americans and high income Americans in terms of their confidence in education.

For low income Americans, with X2(4) being .786 and the alpha-value (.940) being greater than .1 , it does not nearly reach the 90% confidence, and I have to assume that there is no relationship between low income Americans and how it affects blacks’ and whites’ level of confidence in education. This results in me having to fail to reject the null hypothesis and risk making a Type 2 error, as there is no statistically significant relationship. For Table 2.1, although low-income white Americans (11.2%) have less confidence in education than low-income black Americans (6.7%), compared to how low-income black Americans (40%) have more confidence in education than lowincome white Americans (32.7%), the statistical results show inconsistency and no relationship between the variables. This concludes that race does not have a meaningful relationship in the low income category. One limitation to this category is the small sample size of 133 respondents. If the sample size was increased and results still showed inconsistency and no relationship, I would be more confident that there is no relationship in the population and that I would no longer risk making a Type 2 error.

For high income Americans, with X2(4) being 15.200 and the alpha-value (.004) being less than .01, I can be at least 99% confident that there is a relationship between high income Americans and how it affects one’s level of confidence in education. With the alpha value, I am at least 99% confident that I can reject the null hypothesis and not make a Type 1 error. In Table 2.1, although high income white Americans (21.2%) have less confidence in education than black Americans (11.9%), high income black Americans (26.2%) have more confidence in education than white Americans (15.4%). Because Phi calculates the degree of the relationship and is .210, this indicates a moderate relationship between high income and an individual’s level of confidence in education. When talking about Phi in the middle income category, because Phi = .252 and is slightly higher than the Phi value in the high income category, I can conclude that while there is a relationship between race and both middle and high income Americans, race and the levels of confidence has more of a relationship in the middle income category. Black Americans had higher levels of confidence in all low, middle, and high income categories. Despite the low income category having no statistical relationship between race and levels of confidence, this again goes against Miner’s and my hypothesis that higher income black Americans are more likely to have more confidence in education (Miner; 2020).

In all three categories, white Americans had less confidence in education while black Americans had more confidence in education. My hypothesis that black Americans have less confidence in education was challenged and further not supported. In conclusion,


race does determine one’s confidence level in education and is proven to be supported based on my data analysis. However, while it is not in favor of my overall hypothesis, it is in favor of Klugman, and Xu’s hypothesis that white Americans have less confidence in education (Klugman & Xu; 2008).


The research question and the theories behind it were based on how race can determine one’s level of confidence in education. With higher opportunities within white institutions than black institutions, reduced fundings towards low-income cities that are predominately black, and racial prejudices towards black students in higher institutions, this led me to believe that race was a determinant of one’s level of confidence in education, and how black Americans were more likely to have less confidence in education. The GSS data showed a statistically significant yet weak relationship between race and the level of confidence in education and went against my hypothesis that black Americans have less confidence in education. With using income as an intervening control variable, it also did not support my hypothesis that high income black Americans have more confidence in education than low income black Americans, because they overall had more confidence in all categories. However, because white Americans overall had less confidence in education despite using income as a control variable, the relationship between blacks’ and whites’ confidence in education was not at all in my favor and requires further exploration and perhaps a larger population size.

One limitation that I encountered with the statistical data was the bias that could have been present during the time of the survey. Year 2012 was Democrat President Obama’s second term in office, and because white Americans leaned more conservative and against President Obama, thus making them more critical towards his policies and reforms, this could have led them to be less confident in education at the time of the survey. This was something that was tested in Klugman and Xu’s research and was further explored in my research as well. (Klugman & Xu; 2008). I would like to someday view a 2020 dataset with the same variables, as I predict that with Donald Trump being president at the time, black Americans are more likely to have less confidence in education.

Race cannot stand for itself in terms of one’s level of confidence in education, and this is proven by the different statistical significance and relationship strengths I encountered while using income as a control variable. Although race does appear to be a factor to one’s opinion on education, a much larger sample of respondents, perhaps a mixture of nation-wide and in-person respondents and an updated survey centered around racial biases should be conducted so that I can be more positive in not making a Type 1 error. Confidence in education has fluctuated through the years, and the


lack of updated data surveys has made this paper limited in what I can achieve. My hypothesis that black Americans have less confidence in education was not supported, but the relationship between race and levels of confidence has a statistically significant, yet weak relationship. I am determined in the future to revisit this research paper with a newly designed data set and a much larger sample size.



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TABLE 3.1: Independent Variable TABLE 3.2: Original Dependent Variable TABLE 3.3: Recoded Dependent Variable

TABLE 3.4: Original Control Variable


TABLE 3.5: Recoded Control Variable




Major: Psychology

Class of 2023 INTRODUCTION

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the incidence of mental disorders amongst individuals worldwide. Throughout the pandemic, the incidence of anxiety and depressive disorders increased fourfold, now affecting about 4 in 10 adults in the United States; a higher incidence of substance-related and abuse disorders, sleep- and food-related disorders was also reported through a number of surveys (Adibi et al., 2021). Several studies have connected the increased incidence of these disorders to an increase in maladaptive behaviors, cognitive distortions, and stress factors – including but not limited to food insecurity – as a direct result of the pandemic and its lockdowns (Coakley et al., 2021, Copeland et al. 2021).

The COVID-19 virus was initially identified in December 2019, in the Chinese province of Wuhan. The virus was initially named “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2” and later referred to as Coronavirus or COVID-19 by the general population. Despite China’s efforts to contain the virus, the virus spread to the rest of the world and, at the end of January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (WHO, 2021). By March 2020, the WHO declared the novel Coronavirus a pandemic (WHO, 2021). As of today, the virus has claimed the lives of five million people worldwide (WorldoMeter, 2021). The number of American casualties accounts to 15.23% of the grand total - over 750,000 (WorldoMeter, 2021). Since its arrival to the United States, the Coronavirus has become one of the leading causes of death in the country (Ahmad & Anderson, 2021).

While COVID-19 is being thoroughly researched across disciplines, the majority


of psychiatric research remains focused on the rates of incidence of mental disorders originated by COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns. As the United States government, companies, and schools push for a return to in-person activities, it is of vital importance to create a healthy, productive environment for all citizens — whether employers, employees, teachers, parents, social workers, mental health professionals, students, children — that will not exacerbate the existing stress factors and will facilitate the transition instead. In light of the shortages of mental health professionals, the inadequate mental care system, and the sheer number of individuals affected (Thomas et. al, 2009, Radfar et al., 2021, Sharma et al., 2021) it is of paramount importance to give a prevention-based approach particular consideration so that the current healthcare system will not be flooded from requests, and the incidence of these mental disorders will be decreased to more manageable levels.

Amongst the most at-risk demographics, college students rank highest. Before the pandemic, extensive research has shown how students, especially undergraduates, are prone to developing mental disorders given the number of stressors they face – including but not limited to the separation from their families, increased workload, a severe financial burden, and so forth (Eisenberg et al., 2007, Oswalt et al., 2020). Before the lockdowns, students had been shown to cope with their stress and disorders through drugs — various recreational drugs — and prescription stimulants — such as illicitly obtained Modafinil, Adderall, Ritalin, or some other amphetamine-based compounds (Mochrie et al., 2020, Teter et al., 2006, Vo et al., 2015). With the stay-at-home orders and the disruption of in-person education, it should be assumed that such maladaptive behaviors have been exacerbated. Such a hypothesis can be reinforced by the findings of Firkey et al. (2020), which show an increase of circa 15% in the consumption of cannabis.

More recently, several studies have found a correlation between wellness practices and a reduction of the incidence of mood and anxiety disorders (Bai et al., 2019, Copeland et al., 2021, Kris-Etherton et al., 2021, Ye et al., 2021). Similarly, a positive correlation was found between wellness practices and symptoms of anxiety and depression (Copeland et al., 2021, Kris-Etherton et al., 2021). Given the ongoing nature of the pandemic and the shortage of mental health professionals, these findings should constitute the base to create a prevention plan that focuses on reinforcing and developing mental resilience in college students.



College students have been a demographic at risk for decades. On one hand, heavy

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workloads, financial pressure, and academic pressure on top of several other stressors make the situation ripe for the onset of common mental disorders such as Anxiety and Mood disorders. On the other hand, poor dietary habits, alcohol consumption, and drug use are some of the maladaptive coping strategies students resort to in their college years. According to a survey published on the American Psychology Association (APA) journal in 2013, over 41% of students struggled with anxiety, while over 36% struggled with depression. In their survey, Oswalt et al. (2020) identified a major increase in Mental Health disorders between 2009 and 2015, which makes it fair to assume that, pre-Coronavirus, almost half of — if not more — students were struggling with their mental health while in college. Despite the availability of free mental health services, there is a consistent trend of avoidance in students when it comes to seeking mental support; 50%-80% of students battling anxiety and depression do not seek services (Eisenberg et al., 2007, Oswalt et al., 2020). In light of the findings of their 2007 webbased survey of 2,495 undergraduates and 2,526 graduate and professional students, Eisenberg et al. (2007) identified common predictors of the students’ avoidant behavior, listing among them “a lack of perceived need, being unaware of services and insurance coverage, skepticism about treatment effectiveness, low socioeconomic background, and being Asian or Pacific Islander” (Eisenberg et al., 2007, pp. 596,597).

Amid the various causes of the increased incidence of disorders amongst college students, sub-par nutrition stands out in light of the findings of a 2004 study from Cosineau et al.: in the study, by conducting a systematic analysis of qualitative information generated from their focus group participants using concept-mapping techniques, scholars found that most students follow poor dietary practices that involve copious quantities of processed foods. In addition, participants showed having littleto-no knowledge about the short- and long-term consequences of their diet. In their 2021 systemic review and meta-analysis, Kris-Etherton et al. thoroughly explored the positive correlation between poor dietary habits and the incidence of mental disorders that has been noticed over the years and identified low-cholesterol diets to be effective in both prevention and improvement of depression symptoms; their review centered around the review of 131 scholarly publications, 16 randomized clinical trials, and the data gathered from 45,826 non-clinically depressed participants. In light of the food shortages and the inability to access grocery stores that have characterized the Coronavirus pandemic, it can be assumed that consumption of cheap, highly processed foods has increased amongst the student population, given several factors, including but not limited to their limited financial availability.

Overall, the Coronavirus pandemic has turned the students’ lives upside down. Several studies have attempted to assess the level of disruptiveness of the pandemic: for example, a quantitative study by Copeland et al. (2021) found that, on a 10-point scale


— in which 0 meant not disruptive whatsoever and 10 meant extremely disruptive –, students reported an average level of disruptiveness of 7.8; over 87% of the participants reported a score of 6 or more. The researchers’ study was based on the results of an online survey of 675 first-year students enrolled at the University of Vermont during the Spring of 2020 semester. The study’s results were consistent with several other quantitative studies, which, in addition, identified how the overall disruption caused by COVID-19 led to an increase in anxiety and depression symptoms and food-, sleep-, alcohol-, drugs-related maladaptive behaviors (Coakley et al., 2021, Copeland et al., 2021, Marelli et al., 2020, Tasso et al., 2021).


Several studies have found an increased incidence of mental disorders amongst the general and student population associated with the intolerance of uncertainty caused by the pandemic (Coughenor et al., 2021, Lederer et al. 2021). Similar results were found in the mixed method study conducted by Browning et al. (2021) and the quantitative study conducted by Scharmer et al. (2020). For their 2021 study, Browning et al. recruited cross-sectionally a targeted sample of 14,174 participants across seven large universities in the United States; through the 2,534 responses gathered from the online questionnaires, Browning et al. (2021) concluded that the pandemic had a moderate to high psychological impact in 85% of the respondents, characterized by an increase in frustration, difficulties falling asleep, and anxiety and depression symptoms. Scharmer’s et al. quantitative study from 2020 relied on the responses to an online questionnaire gathered in a sample of 295 undergraduate students (65.1% females) recruited from a single large northeastern university in the United States instead; in their study, the scholars found that the increase in anxiety from COVID-19 and the increased intolerance of the uncertainty were correlated with an increased risk of eating disorder and compulsive exercise.

Considering the already elevated percentage of students that faced mental struggles before the pandemic, an increase in mental health disorders can be threatening to the entire system. Due to the nature of the pandemic, the mental healthcare system — which has been historically proved inadequate to meet its demands (Thomas et. al, 2009, Radfar et al., 2021, Sharma et al., 2021) — has been overburdened and unable to address the necessities of such a vast percentage of individuals. In their 2007 web-based survey, Eisenberg et al. indicated a shortage in personnel in on-campus counseling centers, following the results of their web-based survey. In light of Eisenberg et al. (2007)’s findings, it can be inferred that, following the disruption of services and increased demands, even student-exclusive infrastructures do not have the means to

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accommodate the request. Amongst the biggest concerns that emerge from the lack of an adequate mental workforce is the “increased” risk of suicide. Despite how in their literature review Sinyor et al. (2021) did not identify an increase in suicide rates in middle and upper-middle-class families during the pandemic, the long-term complications of certain mental disorders — such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) — and newfound stressors — such as housing, food, and employment insecurities — constitute a threat to the lives of many and can lead to suicide rates spiking.

Further research — like the 44-studies literature review conducted by Lee et al. (2021) and the quantitative studies based on the replies to online questionnaires conducted by Perz et al. (2020) and Tasso et al. (2021) — has shown how certain demographics — especially lower-income families, academically underperforming students, females, and students of color — have been more at risk of a multitude of mental disorders. This data is particularly relevant as it shows how the most at-risk categories are also the least likely to seek and engage in treatment. Because of this and because of the shortage of personnel, there is a clear need for an alternative to therapy on such a large scale. In order to reduce the incidence of mental health disorders and reduce the burden on mental health professionals, several researchers have suggested that prevention might be the most accessible and implementable option (Copeland et al., 2021, Parimala & Kanchibhotla, 2021, Oswalt et al., 2020,)


General well being has been associated with increased physical and mental resilience for years. As seen so far, students tend to have an incredibly stressful life with no healthy coping mechanisms. According to the 2021 systemic review by Kris-Etherton et al., there seems to be a significant connection between the increased incidence of depressive disorders of the past decades and the decline in healthy lifestyle behaviors. To face the exorbitant costs of college and to balance their work-study life, students often scale back on fundamental needs such as sleep, proper diet, exercise, and sun exposure; to address the increased stress and cognitive impairment these produce, students often resort to substances, whether it’s recreational drugs, alcohol, or illobtained prescription stimulants.

Extensive research has been conducted on the correlation between dietary habits and the incidence of mental disorders. According to a study from Pilato et al. (2020), which included extensive computerized cognitive testing and an online questionnaire on a convenience sample, a positive association between daily consumption of fruit and visual memory was observed. The same study also found a positive correlation between fruit intake,


higher standardized test scores, and increased academic performance — similar to the well-known correlation between improved cognition and long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (mainly found in fish) consumption (Pilato et al., 2020). Pilato et al. (2020) also reported an increase in both verbal and visual memory tied to hydration. Similar findings were shown in the small clinical trials reviewed by Kris-Etherton et al. (2021), which highlighted a relationship between improved cognition and a decrease and improvement in symptoms of anxiety tied to the consumption of long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and in particular of Atlantic salmon. Several other micronutrients have been tied to mental health and cognition: folic acid, vitamin D, vitamin B12, zinc, magnesium, L-Arginine, and L-Lysine all play a role in the production of neurotransmitters that regulate mood and mental health status (Kris-Etherton et al., 2021).

On top of dietary interventions, several well being programs and meditative practices have been showing results in lowering the incidence of maladaptive behaviors and the onset of disorders. In their article, Oswalt et al. (2020) stated: “A focus on primary prevention efforts — like sleep, stress management, mindfulness, and physical activity — could directly benefit students and could help reduce some of the strain college counseling centers are experiencing as they attempt to serve a growing number of students” (p. 48); the scholars then proceeded to highlight the benefits of mindfulness and sleep health programs such as Koru and Refresh, which have both been linked to a documented reduction in stress and depressive symptoms (Oswalt et al., 2020). In a 2021 observational cross-sectional study based in India, Parimala & Kanchibhotla, analyzing the 956 answers gathered through an online questionnaire, found that Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) participants were almost 50% less likely to experience anxiety and develop anxiety symptoms compared to their non-practitioning counterparts. The study also highlighted how 56.21% of non-SKY practitioners reported negative changes within their mood and mental health, compared to the lower proportion in SKY participants (40.6%) (Parimala & Kanchibhotla, 2021). Similar findings were found across several Wellness Programs student populations within the United States: for example, in their study, Copeland et al. (2021) reported that when “Using the Brief-Problem Monitor (BPM) — a survey comprised of 18 items, meant to evaluate internalizing, attention, and externalizing problems in adults aged 18-59” (p. 136-137) — researchers noticed that although BPM results were consistent through different demographics, Wellness Program involvement moderated changes in BPM scores. Participants of the Wellness Program showed a lesser degree of attention degeneration compared to their peers as well as an improvement in internalizing symptoms (Copeland et al., 2021). Overall, the recent nature of these studies seems to indicate that a strong correlation between Wellness Programs — and their practices — and reduced incidence of mental disorders has been maintained throughout the pandemic and should be further explored.

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Current findings indicate that there is a significant, concerning increase in the incidence of mental disorders worldwide as a result of the pandemic and the stayat-home orders. Given the current state of the mental health system, considering its limited accessibility as well as the lack of adequate personnel, it is mandatory to explore options to tend to the needs of college students limiting the need for individual therapy. Unfortunately, despite the extensive amount of research concerning student well being in the academic setting, very little changes have been implemented to this day; pre-COVID studies have often highlighted the importance of fundamental factors including restful sleep, self-care, meditation, and diet, as shown in the literature review by Kris-Etherton et al. (2021), yet these factors often remain overlooked through the socio-academic demands imposed on members of the Academy. While most studies conducted following the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus may have obvious limitations — including voluntary or response bias, concerns circa the consistency of the results — they have confirmed the pre-COVID findings: meditative practices and well being programs have shown promise in increasing resilience against anxiety and depressive disorders alike, as seen in Copeland et al.’s (2021) and Parimala & Kanchibhotla’s (2021) studies.

Overall, although attempts have been made to address students’ well being during these trying times, there is a generalized lack of applicable prevention plans and techniques that can be used to strengthen and help students during their return to in-person education, especially as the pandemic still rages on. The current knowledge on this topic is far from adequate, let alone comprehensive. Most available studies centered around prevention are limited to authors’ suggestions; the ones that are not, instead, often lack baseline parameters that could assess their effectiveness. In light of the limited amount of the knowledge currently available, further research is needed to assess the degree and type of changes that can be implemented within the collegiate academic setting.



The statue of George Mason located in the center of the Fairfax campus was built in 1995 to remind students and the public of Mason’s often forgotten influence on America’s founding. In 2021, it became part of the Enslaved People of George Mason Memorial, with a 10-year-old girl named Penny, and Mason’s personal manservant, James, taking prominent places along Wilkins Plaza.




Major: History

Concentration: Public History

Class of 2022 INTRODUCTION

Upon completing his second term as president, the Washington party, consisting of George and Martha Washington, two of their step-grandchildren, and a few of their enslaved individuals started their journey from Philadelphia back to Mount Vernon. George Washington was eager to retire from his life as a public servant and spend the remainder of his years managing the plantation that he had so lovingly built. At the time of his death in 1799, just two years after returning home, the estate of Mount Vernon included a mansion house with 21 rooms, about 8,000 acres of land and 10 miles of riverfront, and a workforce of 317 enslaved individuals who ensured the plantation ran as smoothly as it did. Of the 317 enslaved individuals who lived and worked at Mount Vernon, 42% of them were either too old or too young to work. Of the 68% of enslaved individuals who could work, about 50 of them were skilled artisans and craftsmen. These skilled artisans and craftsmen of Mount Vernon ensured George Washington’s success economically, socially, and politically. Without their labor, he would not have been a successful member of the upper class. And yet, despite their importance to George Washington and Mount Vernon, the historiographical literature available on the enslaved population is almost nonexistent. This paper aims to highlight the social and economic lives of the enslaved artisans who ensured that George Washington was able to become as successful as he did by utilizing their labor and bondage for his personal gain.



This paper will not focus on the Washington family as many other historians have done, instead, it will focus on the enslaved artisans that contributed to the success of the Washington family. But it is still important to understand the people that held these enslaved individuals in bondage. The scholarship that mentions George Washington as a slave owner is quite extensive. There are a few scholars that have come to a consensus that Washington’s changing views on slavery during his lifetime is what eventually leads to him becoming a man with conditional anti-slavery views.1 But there are others, like Dr. Minsha Singh, who argue that because George Washington never made an active effort during his lifetime to free the enslaved individuals in the United States, let alone on his own plantation, he cannot be considered an abolitionist.2 To understand Washington’s internal conflict and changing views on slavery, we must go back to the beginning, when he first inherits enslaved individuals. Washington inherited his first group of enslaved individuals at 11 years old, after the death of his father in 1743. By the eighteenth century, Virginia had been using slave labor for a hundred years. It was ingrained into the social, economic, and political lives of most Virginia gentry members. Virginia was known for growing tobacco as its cash crop during the colonial period. Tobacco was a time- and labor-intensive crop that facilitated the need for enslaved labor. Farmers that had the means utilized enslaved labor to care for the tobacco crop. There were few individuals in eighteenth-century Virginia who opposed morally to using enslaved labor, and George Washington was no different. For the next twenty years of his life, Washington would continue to expand the number of enslaved individuals at Mount Vernon through inheriting, purchasing, renting, and natural increase.

For members of the upper class, owning enslaved individuals was commonplace by the eighteenth century.3 But we cannot excuse their actions of enslaving people as it is something that everyone did and accepted. By the eighteenth century, there were people who had abolitionist thinking and tendencies.4 Edward Rushton is an

1 Fritz Hirschfeld, George Washington, and Slavery: A Documentary Portrayal (University of Missouri Press, 1997), 3; François Furstenberg, “Atlantic Slavery, Atlantic Freedom: George Washington, Slavery, and Transatlantic Abolitionist Networks,” William and Mary Quarterly 68, no. 2 (2011): 247 – 286. Thompson, Mary V., The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret: George Washington, Slavery, and the Enslaved Community at Mount Vernon (University of Virginia Press, 2019), 28. Note- Mary Thompson does not consider Washington an abolitionist, instead she believes that by studying Washington’s struggles to do what is right, we are able to use this to educate future generations.

2 Manisha Sinha, “Transatlantic Slavery Symposium: Transatlantic Abolition and Law,” streamed August 9, 2021, by the Benjamin Franklin House, Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington, and the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, London and Virginia, video, 52:10.

3 Lori Glover, Founders as Fathers: The Private Lives and Politics of the American Revolutionaries (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014), 175.

4 Henry Wiencek, An Imperfect God George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2003) — many mentions of John Laurens and Marquis de Lafayette’s abolitionist efforts, most specifically during the

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example of a contemporary of the time pointing out Washington’s shortcomings in the abolition movement. Advertised in The Time Piece and Literary Companion is Rushton’s expostulatory letter to George Washington, in which he writes against Washington’s continuation of being a proprietor of slaves.5 For years, scholars have written about George Washington’s private struggles on slavery.6 There are a few primary sources that they have looked at extensively, but none more so than his will and the letter he writes to Lund Washington that indicated his desire to “get quit of negroes.”7 There is one member of the Washington Family that historians most often overlook, but who was just as integral in keeping the enslaved people at Mount Vernon in bondage.

Upon her marriage to George Washington, Martha Washington, her children, and her dower slaves moved from the home she had shared with her first husband to Mount Vernon. As mistress of the house, Martha Washington oversaw the hiring of both free and enslaved people to work for her and her husband.8 It is believed that Martha Washington never had the same moral challenges to slavery as her second husband did. It does appear that she shared her husband’s deep-seated racial prejudices.9 If one were to pay closer attention to the primary sources available, they would notice how critical and skeptical of the enslaved people she was.10 Martha Washington understood the significance that slavery played in the economic, social, and political world, and accepted this as a reality of life. Whether she was concerned about the institution of slavery or not, her primary concern was ensuring the success of her family.11

The existing historiographical literature on enslaved artisans has only just started to become something that more scholars are taking interest in. There is not a lot of scholarship available on enslaved artisans at Mount Vernon, but scholars have been examining enslaved artisans in a broader lens in various areas. Lori Glover’s “Founders as Fathers” does not examine enslaved artisans specifically but does talk about the revolutionary era.

5 “Advertisement” The Time Piece and Literary Companion, 5 June 1797, 3. To see the letter in its entirety see Edward Rushton’s Expostulatory Letter to George Washington of Mount Vernon, on His Continuing to be a Holder of Slaves, 1797.

6 Henry Wiencek, An Imperfect God; Fritz Hirschfeld, George Washington and Slavery: A Documentary Portrayal (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1997), 3; Phillip D. Morgan, “To Get Quit of Negroes: George Washington and Slavery,” Journal of American Studies 39, no. 3 (December 2005): 403 – 429.; Robert F. Dalzell Jr. and Lee Baldwin Dalzell, George Washington’s Mount Vernon: At Home in Revolutionary America (Oxford University Press, 1998); François Furstenberg “Atlantic Slavery, Atlantic Freedom: George Washington, Slavery, and Transatlantic Abolitionist Networks,” William and Mary Quarterly 68, no. 2 (2011): 247 – 286. DOI: 10.5309/willmaryquar.68.2.0247

7 George Washington, Will, 9 July 1799; George Washington to Lund Washington, 15 August 1778, GWP.Rev.Series. NoteShortly after Washington’s death there are individuals who are commending Washington’s decision to free his enslaved individuals. See Revered Richard Allen’s “Eulogy of George Washington,” 29 December 1799.

8 Kelly Fanto Deetz, “In Fame and Fear: Exceptional Cooks” in Bound to the Fire: How Virginia’s enslaved Cooks Helped Invent American Cuisine (Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky, 2017): 75.

9 George Washington and Slavery, 65.

10 Mary Thompson, “I Never See That Man Laugh to Show his Teeth” in The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret, 41.

11 Marie Jenkins Schwartz, Ties That Bound: Founding First Ladies and Slaves (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2017), 17.


relationship between the founders and their enslaved peoples. Mary Thompson’s “Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret” is one of the more comprehensive books available on enslaved people at Mount Vernon. In “Threads of Bondage,” Gloria Seaman Allen studies the Chesapeake region, an area that broadly included Northern Neck down to the Tidewater. She writes on enslaved women, textile production, and their importance to the plantation economy. Bethany McGlynn’s “Who Built the City on the Severn” aims to offer a landscape that accurately portrays the enslaved artisans in Annapolis and how they shaped the city they built.12 Further south, scholars like Phillip Morgan and his book “Slave Counterpoint” examine enslaved artisans in the Carolina Lowcountry.13 These scholars, amongst many others, are pushing forth the effort to write on the social and economic lives of enslaved artisans in the pre-and post-colonial periods.

These scholars write about the enslaved artisans as being fundamental in ensuring the success of their white master’s plantations. There are various jobs that an enslaved artisan could have been doing, too many to name here in this paper.14 The work that they performed ranged vastly from personal body servants of their white owners to miners. According to the social hierarchy amongst enslaved people, those that were performing fieldwork were seen as lower down on the social ladder than those that worked in the mansion directly with the owners. There are pros and cons to both situations. For the fieldworkers, they were further away from the main house, out of sight from their owners. This meant they were able to enjoy some sort of freedom that would not have been afforded to their counterparts working in the main house. For those enslaved individuals who worked in the house, they were under more scrutiny but were able to form more of a bond with their owners.15


12 Lori Glover, Founders as Fathers; Gloria Seaman Allen, “Threads of Bondage: Chesapeake Slave Women and Plantation Cloth Production, 1750 – 1850” (Ph.D. diss., The George Washington University, 2000); Mary Thompson, The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret; Bethany J. McGlynn, “Who Built the City on the Severn? Slavery, Material Culture, and Landscapes of Labor in Early Annapolis” (Masters diss., University of Delaware, 2020) com/dissertations-theses/who-built-city-on-severn-slavery-material-culture/docview/2451865146/se-2?accountid=14541.

13 Phillip D. Morgan, Slave Counterpoint: Black Culture in the Eighteenth Century Chesapeake and Low-Country (The University of North Carolina Press, 1998); Ira Berlin, Many Thousands Gone: The First Two Centuries of Slavery in North America (Massachusetts, The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1998).

14 For examples of the different types of enslaved artisans and fieldworkers see- “Black Craftspeople Digital Archives,” Black Craftspeople Digital Archives, accessed November 9, 2021, browse.; James E. Newton, and Ronald L. Lewis, “Appendix,” in The Other Slaves: Mechanics, Artisans, and Craftsmen (Massachusetts, G.K. Hall & CO., 1978), 243 – 245.; Theresa L. Donnelly “George Washington’s Laboring Women: An Examination of the Work and the Lives of the Enslaved Female Workers at Mount Vernon’s Outlying Plantations” (Master’s Diss., ProQuest, 2014).

15 This is also partly because many slave owners wanted “mulattoes” to work in the mansion and to be seen by guests. Mount Vernon Ladies Association, “Clothing,” Accessed November 10, 2021, slavery/clothing/.

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From sunup to sundown, hundreds of enslaved people at Mount Vernon found themselves working tirelessly for the benefit of George Washington. Alongside field laborers, enslaved artisans also contributed to the economic success that Washington enjoyed.16 Of the enslaved individuals who were able to work, about 28% were considered skilled laborers.17 There were various artisans at Mount Vernon including house servants, blacksmiths, coopers, cooks, dairy maids, gardeners, millers, distillers, seamstresses, shoemakers, spinners, knitters, ditchers, wagon drivers, and postilions to name a few.18 Washington utilized both the labor of enslaved and white individuals to perform artisan jobs. This situation was not unique to Washington, as many of his contemporaries utilized enslaved artisan work. Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, Robert “King” Carter, and James Madison are just a few wealthy Virginia plantation owners who utilized enslaved artisans.19

By using primary sources such as the farm reports, letters, and the financial papers of George Washington, historians can start to piece together the economic lives of the enslaved people of Mount Vernon. Many of the artisans at Mount Vernon were enslaved males, with most of the enslaved women and teenagers working in the fields. Theresa Donnelly argues that by having women perform the laborious and monotonous tasks of field labor, enslaved men were able to have the opportunity to be artisans.20 But there were also opportunities for some enslaved women to have skilled work.

Charlotte, a seamstress at Mount Vernon, was one example of an enslaved woman who performed skilled labor. Her work as a seamstress included making clothes for the enslaved field hands, those working in the mansion would get finer cuts of cloth called livery.21 Based off the farm reports that George Washington was getting, Charlotte was consistently making 9 shirts a week and would occasionally make other items depending on what the estate needed. These shirts were typically meant for enslaved field hands, but there a is record of her working on clothing for members of the Washington family from time to time.22 On January 16, 1793, Washington

16 Gwendolyn K. White, “Commerce and Community: Plantation Life at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 1754 to 1799” (PhD diss., George Mason University, 2016).

17 Mount Vernon Ladies Association, “Slave Labor,” Digital Encyclopedia of George Washington, Accessed November 10, 2021,

18 For a more comprehensive list of the enslaved artisans look at the 1786 and 1799 wills of George Washington.

19 Henry Wiencek, “Master of Monticello,” Smithsonian 43, no. 6 (October 2012); Charles Richard Baker, “What Can Thomas Jefferson’s Accounting Records Tell Us About Plantation Management, Slavery, and Enlightenment Philosophy in Colonial America?” Sage Journal 24, no. 2 (May 2018): Philip D. Morgan, “Slave Counterpoint.”

20 Theresa L., Donnelly, “George Washington’s Laboring Women,” 2.

21 The livery was made of finer cuts of cloth and dyed, showing the wealth of the Washingtons, that they were able to cloth these enslaved people in such expensive clothing.

22 Weekly Report, 12 January 1793, Mount Vernon – This report is most likely prior to Anthony Whiting whipping her.


got a letter from his farm manager, Anthony Whiting, who stated that he “Gave…a very good whipping,” to Charlotte for being insolent with him. A few days after this event, it was reported to Whiting that the clothing that Charlotte had been given was refused, leading him to whip her again. Whiting was “determined to lower her Spirit or skin her Back.”23 Washington wrote back that he considered this treatment of Charlotte to be appropriate and that “If she or any other of the servants will not do their duty by fair means, or are impertinent, correction (as the only alternative) must be administered.”24 By examining these two letters, one could see that though Charlotte had been whipped just days before, with her finger injured in the process, Washington approved of Whiting’s punishment. Washington was first and foremost a businessman, and by having one person out of the workforce, it would have cost him in the long run. Washington’s textile industry at Mount Vernon was meant to help him save money rather than make money by providing most of the cloth needed to clothe enslaved field hands. Charlotte not working because of her injury and prior illness would set back the number of shirts that could have been made in a single year. Charlotte’s job at Mount Vernon was rather unique, she was in more constant contact with Martha Washington due to her job as a seamstress. It was not uncommon for enslaved seamstresses to work on clothing meant for other enslaved individuals on top of their domestic chores.25 There was nothing special about the cloth that was being produced on the plantation. It was made of some of the poorest quality fibers George Washington could buy or produce himself. The textile industry at Mount Vernon helped Washington save money by not having to buy cloth for every single one of his enslaved individuals.

Kate, a midwife, was another example of an enslaved woman who was a skilled artisan at Mount Vernon. In 1794, Kate petitioned George Washington to allow her to “serve the negro women” as a “Granny” for the other enslaved women on the estate. This request comes to Washington from his overseer Will, who also happened to be Kate’s husband. What is perhaps more interesting about this request is that she requested monetary payment for her skills.26 Midwives would have gained their skills in a variety of ways depending on their station in life. It is very likely that Kate would have learned her skills from a white midwife, like Susanna Bishop, who delivered many enslaved women at Mount Vernon after 1785.27 But Kate’s status as an enslaved midwife would not have been new to Mount Vernon. Between 1790 and 1798,

23 Anthony Whiting to George Washington, 16 January 1793.

24 George Washington to Anthony Whiting , 20 January 1793.

25 Karol K. Weaver, “Fashioning Freedom: Slave Seamstresses in the Atlantic World,” Journal of Women’s History 24, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 47.

26 Sara Collini, “The Labors of Enslaved Midwives in Revolutionary Virginia,”19; For letter from GW to William Pearce, 17 August 1794.

27 Sara Collini, “The Labors of Enslaved Midwives,” 22.

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Washington had at least eight enslaved women who attended women in childbirth.28 Not only were they midwives, but they also could perform simple medical procedures and would help in the postpartum care of both mother and child. The actions of Kate and these other enslaved women acting as midwives provide for an interesting paradox. These women, who showed their importance and value by ensuring the successful births of enslaved African Americans, contributed to the increase of slaves owned by their white masters. This natural increase of slaves provided their masters with more economic wealth by having more enslaved people that could perform the various tasks needed to run a plantation.


Although the economic lives of enslaved artisans are becoming more well known to historians, when it comes to the social lives of these people, there is very little known. Most of what is known about the enslaved artisans’ personal lives come from archaeological reports, visitor accounts, oral histories, and runaway ads. To understand the social lives of enslaved artisans, it is also important to understand how most enslaved people were living at Mount Vernon. Their lives were so intricately woven together. Their experiences were mostly, though not completely, the same in their private lives. There were three different archaeological digs done at Mount Vernon, with one of the most important being the House for Families site.29 For this dig, archaeologists focused on the cellar of the House for Families. The cellar was first excavated by a private firm in 1985, and then completed by Mount Vernon in 1990.30 Uncovered during both digs were artifacts like bone fragments, ceramics, game pieces, and personal items. By utilizing these archaeological findings, historians have been able to get a better understanding of items that were discarded that have offered us a glimpse into the social lives of the enslaved people. Before it was demolished in 1793, many enslaved artisans would have lived in the House for Families. After its demolition, the enslaved individuals were moved to new quarters located near the greenhouse.31 As it is currently displayed and interpreted, there are two separate wings, one for men and the other for women. There were also a few cabins that families were allowed to live in, but there is little information on the number of cabins that would have been present

28 Sara Collini, “The Labors of Enslaved Midwives,” 23. Washington was known to have hired enslaved women from other plantations to also be midwives of his estate. See- Mary Thompson, The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret, 137.

29 Mount Vernon Ladies Association and Virginia Research Center for Archaeology, “House for Families,” https://www.daacs. org/sites/house-for-families/#home

30 Johanna Hope Smith, “Adorned Identities: An Archaeological Perspective on Race and Self Preservation in 18th - Century Virginia” (PhD diss., University of Tennessee, 2017), 19.

31 Mount Vernon Ladies Association, “The House for Families.”


at Mansion House Farm, and no information on who inhabited them. The cabins at Mansion House Farm would have been vastly different than those of the fieldworkers on the outlying farms.32 The reason for these quarters to have been so close to the mansion was because it was expected that one would live where they worked at Mount Vernon. Many of the enslaved artisans were working in or near the mansion, and thus would have lived at Mansion House Farm. The enslaved artisans that lived on the outlying farms would have most likely lived in a cabin with their family members. It is nearly impossible to know what these cabins would have looked like since there were very few people who were writing about the private lives of enslaved individuals.

Clothing for the enslaved people at Mount Vernon varied differently, typically dependent on how close or far one was to the mansion. The cloth that Washington was providing for those not working in the mansion itself was made of coarse linens (often called negroes cloth) and wools. He allotted to them two sets of clothing a year; one made of linens for summer and the other made of wool for the harsh Virginia winters. Those that directly worked in the mansion and would have been seen by guests would have gotten finer cuts of cloth that were either dyed to match the family colors or were simpler versions of Martha Washington’s dresses. Those getting their clothing produced at Mount Vernon were able to then use dyes to liven up their clothing.33 We know that this was something that many enslaved individuals were doing based on runaway ads. The runaway ads for Ona Judge, Cupid, Pero’s, Neptune, and Jack give some clues as to the clothing that these enslaved individuals had with them, though it may not specify the colors of their clothing.34 There is an account of Charlotte who was walking around Alexandria, who was then stopped by a white woman who accused her of wearing the clothing that was stolen from her. The gown in question was one made of finer fabric and dyed, which is something Charlotte typically would not have had access to as an enslaved person. Clothing was just one of many ways that enslaved people were able to show their individuality through various stylistic choices.35

There was not much free time for the enslaved artisans at Mount Vernon. Work was from sunup to sundown, six days a week. Sunday was the only day given off, but for some of the enslaved artisans, they were needed at all hours of the day all week long. If they could, the enslaved people would try to spend their days off with their loved ones,

32 Mary Thompson, The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret,” 161; Julian Niemcewicz, Under Their Vine and Fig Tree describes the homes of the enslaved fieldhands as “huts of the Blacks, for one can not call them by the name of houses. They are more miserable than the most miserable of cottages of our peasants,” 95; For a more general understanding of the homes of enslaved people in the Chesapeake region see Philip D. Morgan, “Housing” in Slave Counterpoint, 104 – 124.

33 Philip D. Morgan, Slave Counterpoint, 128.

34 Kayleigh Seng, “The Enslaved Workers of Mount Vernon and Their Social Lives,” Mason’s Legacies, exhibits/show/artisans-mountvernon/social-lives.

35 For some examples of things that enslaved people were adorning their clothing with see- Mount Vernon Ladies Association, “Clothing.”

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since most enslaved families lived apart from each other during the work week. During this time, enslaved families could have been doing a variety of things. Many cabins had attached to them a yard to grow fruits and vegetables, animals like ducks, turkeys, chickens, and perhaps even beehives. After Washington’s death, it is known that in his free time Davy Gray, one of two former enslaved overseers at Mount Vernon raised 32 turkeys, 20 ducks, and 42 chickens for Martha Washington who paid him about $9 for the poultry. This was not an uncommon practice in Virginia. It was known that owners would purchase eggs, chickens, ducks, and turkeys from the men and women they held in bondage.36

To get a more in-depth understanding of the social lives of a few of the enslaved individuals, I have chosen to examine the lives of Hercules and Ona Judge. Both enslaved individuals worked intimately with the Washington family, and when they escaped, their absences were well noted by both George and Martha Washington. Historians have closely examined the lives of Hercules and Oney Judge, often writing of their success running away from the Washingtons. What many do not realize when writing about them, is that by telling their stories, we are able to get a better understanding of the social lives of not just these two enslaved artisans, but the lives of countless others during the colonial period. The sources used in creating their stories for modern audiences allow for scholars to begin a deeper dive into the social lives of countless enslaved individuals in the United States.

Hercules was the enslaved cook of Mount Vernon. He was purchased by George Washington in 1754 at the age of sixteen and was a house servant for a decade before being moved to the kitchen.37 Working as the Washington family cook would not have been easy for Hercules. He would have needed to rise before Washington to ensure that breakfast was on the table in a timely manner. If the Washingtons were hosting guests, as they typically did, then his work might not have been completed until long after sundown. But Hercules quickly became an indispensable and valuable member of the Washington household through his talents as a cook. Hercules accompanied the family when they moved to Philadelphia to serve out Washington’s second term as president. According to a Pennsylvania law, Hercules would have qualified to claim his freedom after living a minimum of six months consecutively in the state.38 Hercules was given many privileges that other enslaved individuals would not have been given. One notable example was how he showed that he had some influence over the Washington

36 Barbara J. Heath and Amber Bennett, “The Little Spots Allow’d Them: The Archaeological Study of African-American Yards,” Historical Archaeology 34, no.2 (2000): 42. 37 Kelly Fanto Deetz, “In Fame and Fear,” 75. 38 Gradual Abolition Act of 1780 Upon learning of this law, and Washington’s actions to send home the individuals who qualified for this provision, Hercules was able to convince the family of his loyalty. Tobias Lear writes of this situation to George Washington on 5 June 1791.

family by requesting his son Richmond become his scullion and George Washington granting his request.39 Another notable example comes from George Washington Parke Custis, Washington’s step-grandson, who writes about the freedoms that Hercules enjoyed. He notes that during Congress dinners, Hercules would “make for an evening promenade,” and that his “perquisites from the slops of the kitchen,” earned him one to two hundred dollars a year. And during these strolls, he would put on his finery, and for those that knew him, they would bow to him.40 By utilizing these privileges given to him by the Washington family, Hercules was able to roam freely around in a northern city, in style, and interact with the public. By doing this, he was able to make connections that would make his eventual escape easier. Hercules ran away from Mount Vernon, on February 22, 1797.41 The response to his absence was felt differently by his family members and those that had enslaved him.42 By earning the trust of the Washington family, Hercules was able to make his way back into Philadelphia and eventually become a freedman.43 Even though Hercules was not the first, nor the last enslaved person to escape from Mount Vernon, his story showed how he was able to use the connections he created in his spare time of being the Washington family cook to gain his freedom.

Ona Judge, at the young age of ten years old, became Martha Washington’s personal maid. As Martha Washington’s maid, she would have learned various things about her mistress and her trade. As the personal maid of Martha Washington, Ona Judge had to learn everything about her mistress in order to do her job successfully. She had to know in what way and setting Martha Washington wanted things done. This meant that she spent much of her working years learning the art of the matriarch’s needs. She even became highly skilled at needlework and was even commended by George Washington as being, “the perfect mistress of her needle.”44 She was brought to both New York and Philadelphia, by the Washington family during the presidency. And although she was considered extremely valuable to Martha Washington, it had been decided that Ona Judge would be given to her eldest granddaughter, Elizabeth Park Custis Law as a wedding present.45 Knowing that her life was to be uprooted, Ona Judge had to

39 Kelly Fanto Deetz, “In Fame and Fear,” 77.

40 George Washington Parke Custis, Recollections and Private Memoirs of Washington, by His Adopted Son, George Washington Parke Custis, with a Memoir of the Author, by His Daughter; and Illustrative and Explanatory Notes by Benson J. Lossing (New York: Derby & Jackson, 1860), 423.

41 Mary Thompson, The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret,” 284. Note- Thompson notes that Hercules was at Mount Vernon when he runs away, despite the previous assumption that he left while in Philadelphia.

42 Mary Thompson, The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret,” 284 – 285.

43 Kelly Fanto Deetz, “In Fame and Fear,” 86; Mary Thompson, The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret, 285.

44 George Washington to Oliver Wolcott, 1 September 1796.

45 Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge (New York: Simon and Schuster Inc., 2017), 95. Note- Ona Judge was part of the Custis/Dower slave group and thus would have been split among the four Custis grandchildren anyways. She would not have been set free by George Washington’s will.

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consider the possibility of pulling off the impossible. During her time in both New York and Philadelphia she was able to create a network of connections that would help with her eventual escape. On the outside she continued to the daily work of attending to Martha Washington, on the inside, she was biding her time till her escape.

On May 21, 1796, Ona Judge slipped out while the Washington’s ate their supper.46 Just a few days after her disappearance ads were placed in the Philadelphia Gazette and in Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser, acknowledging her disappearance and her defiance of the president.47 These ads also offered an insight into the possessions that she had taken with her, noting that she had “many changes of very good clothes of all sorts, but they are not sufficiently recollected to describe.” Not only that, but the ads mentioned her physical appearance which is one of the few sources that gives us information on the appearances and mannerisms of enslaved people.48 Where Judge’s story differs from Hercules’ is that historians know what became of her after she escaped, primarily because she had an interview with Benjamin Case towards the end of her life. She settled in New Hampshire where she would marry Jack Staines, a freed black sailor, in 1797. The skills that she had gained in bondage for the Washingtons allowed her to get a skilled job once she was freed. There were a few moments in her life that she almost faced being sent back to the Washingtons at Mount Vernon.49 But after Washington’s death in 1799, it was said that the family never bothered her again. Ona Judge’s story is one that has captivated countless generations of people, primarily because she was able to escape bondage.

What many members of the public do not realize by listening to and telling the stories of these enslaved individuals who managed to escape, we get a sense of what their private lives were like. These enslaved people were able to form connections that would eventually grant them their freedom. The runaway ads that quickly followed the escape of enslaved people allows for us to piece together things like their mannerism, dress, and physical appearance. And although it might not sound or look like a lot of information can be found in these papers, it gives historians a better jumping-off point than they originally had.


46 Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Never Caught, 110.

47 “Advertisement,” Philadelphia Gazette, 24 May 1796. ;“Advertisement,” Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser, 27 May 1796.

48 Ibid.

49 A few months after arriving in New Hampshire, Ona Judge was recognized by a friend of Nelly Parke Custis. George Washington tried to bring her back, but she refused, knowing that he could not force her back to Mount Vernon without enraging Northern abolitionists, it appears that George Washington backed off. In August of 1799, George Washington enlisted the help of Burwell Basset Jr, to find her. He relocated her, but announced his plans to John Langdon, who secretly told Judge, and she quickly left the city. – Mount Vernon Ladies Association, “Ona Judge.” library/digitalhistory/digital-encyclopedia/article/ona-judge/#_ftn1


When thinking about slavery and what kind of work the enslaved people did on plantations, most people would jump to the conclusion that the only work being done was fieldwork. It is not common knowledge that many enslaved men and women were tasked with skilled labor that was vital to ensuring the plantation ran smoothly. Even as historians start to explore more in-depth the histories of enslaved artisan communities, there is still this modern opposition to enslaved people being capable of having the skills to be an artisan. Further research of this topic would include looking at the enslaved artisans on plantations throughout the Chesapeake area. Eventually, I would like this research to include enslaved artisans in Virginia and other states. The social and economic lives of the enslaved artisans of Mount Vernon, contributed extensively to the success of George Washington socially, economically, and politically. Without these individuals that the Washington family held in bondage, the Washington’s would not have enjoyed the lives they lived. By understanding the importance of enslaved artisans at Mount Vernon and on other plantations, we can begin to understand the complexities that is United States history. By continuing to tell the narratives of enslaved artisans, historians will be able to show just how essential enslaved artisans were to the success of not just white plantation owners, but the foundation United States as a whole.

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Major: Biology

Class of 2023


Lung cancer is a prominent and life-threatening cancer that affects many people worldwide today. It causes many deaths and has no real cure.1 Lung cancer is a disease that is usually detected too late and progressed far enough to make treatment difficult. This makes the need to find biomarkers to detect early-stage lung cancer an important part of the pathway of fighting lung cancer. Treatment of lung cancer is typically done by chemotherapy, which reduces the size of tumor cells in the lung. However, chemotherapy is not a cure or always an effective solution. T-cells are the response of the body to tumors. Therapies allowing for increased production of tumor-fighting T-cells have shown to have positive results in the survival rates of lung cancer patients.2

The gut microbiome is comprised of gut bacteria that help influence our metabolic, endocrine, and immune systems.3 The balance of the microbiome or the relative abundances of certain microbes has become more important in recent studies. Probiotics containing strains like Lactobacillus are used by people to help aid in their digestive health. Many doctors will stress the importance of probiotics in one’s health as it relates to the health of the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is not something that has been as fully emphasized as an important part of daily health to avoid cancer when compared to habits like not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and sun protection.

1 Siegel, R. L., Miller, K. D., & Jemal, A. (2017). Cancer Statistics, 2017. CA: a cancer journal for clinicians, 67(1), 7–30.

2 Reuben, A., Zhang, J., Chiou, S. H., Gittelman, R. M., Li, J., Lee, W. C., Fujimoto, J., Behrens, C., Liu, X., Wang, F., Quek, K., Wang, C., Kheradmand, F., Chen, R., Chow, C. W., Lin, H., Bernatchez, C., Jalali, A., Hu, X., Wu, C. J., … Zhang, J. (2020). Comprehensive T cell repertoire characterization of non-small cell lung cancer. Nature communications, 11(1), 603.

3 Zheng, Y., Fang, Z., Xue, Y., Zhang, J., Zhu, J., Gao, R., Yao, S., Ye, Y., Wang, S., Lin, C., Chen, S., Huang, H., Hu, L., Jiang, G. N., Qin, H., Zhang, P., Chen, J., & Ji, H. (2020). Specific gut microbiome signature predicts the early-stage lung cancer. Gut microbes, 11(4), 1030–1042.


Recently, more studies have indicated that the maintenance of a healthy gut microbiome may have more important implications on the health of other systems. For example, the gut-lung axis is the pathway that has been more recently researched in its relationship to relative immunity. Different bacteria and microbes play an important role in a person’s health. The relationship between the lung and gut will be explained in this review as the “gut-lung axis” plays a role in the development and progression of lung cancer.

This review will evaluate the question of how the gut microbiota is related to lung cancer, as well as discuss why it has become important in advancing lung cancer research. The studies in this review aim to answer the questions of how gut microbiota can help predict and slow the progression of lung cancer. I decided that it would be best to group my sources by subcategories that separate the sources on whether they present information that is relevant to the relationship between the gut-lung axis, and the prediction and treatment of early-stage lung cancer. First, the topic of the relationship of sodium butyrate in the reduction of cancer cells will be explained. The importance of the gut-lung axis will be discussed to give context to why the microbiome plays a role in lung cancer. Next, studies focusing on the distinct alterations of the gut microbiome has allowed for the detection of lung cancer will be discussed. Finally, some of the ways a healthy microbiome has been shown to slow or stop the progression of lung cancer will be explored. By the end of this review, the mechanism of how specific gut bacteria can help aid in lung cancer treatment and how they may serve as biomarkers (predictors) will be answered.


The first article (Zheng et al. 2018) was found using the Taylor and Francis Online database using keywords gut microbiota and limiting search results to original articles within the last five years that excluded literature reviews. The Taylor and Francis online database contains thousands of peer-reviewed journals and articles. Most of the sources found about the microbiota as biomarkers for lung cancer and the use of probiotics in treatment were found through bibliography mining of that source. Other sources, like the study that focused on butyrate-producing bacteria and its relation to lung cancer (Gui et al. 2020), were found using the Pro Quest database. I also used the PubMed database using the same filters used in the ProQuest database search but using the keywords “gut microbiome and cancer”. I used the keywords “gut microbiota and lung cancer” and limited searches to within the last five years and included clinical trials and articles, while excluding literature reviews. Two relevant sources were found through the bibliography mining of that source as well. The previous study also helped identify

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“sodium butyrate cancer apoptosis” as a relevant keyword, and using the same filters in ProQuest helped identify a study that focused on the mechanism of how those specific gut bacteria can reduce cancer cells (Salimi et al. 2017). While performing keyword searches, I found that there was a limited number of studies that linked lung cancer specifically to gut microbiota. Therefore, I expanded my research to include studies that included other types of cancer but included other valuable information that relates to the mechanism of gut bacteria and cancer-killing. I specifically wanted to include information that explained why and how healthy gut microbiota can slow the progression of cancer by using sources that are related to sodium butyrate and T-cells. Therefore, I included the study by Sun et al. (2020). Although it relates to colorectal cancer, I wanted to show the mechanism that T-cells are regulated by within the gut microbiome. In addition, I wanted to show what kinds of treatments are effective in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome and the effects on cancer cells, which is why I used sources that related chemotherapy effectiveness to sodium butyrate. The one source that is very distantly related to my specific topic focused on early lung inflammation and changes in the gut microbiota (Arrieta et al. 2015). However, I found this source to be important in defining the relationship of how alterations in the gut microbiome may lead to a higher risk of immune system inflammation.


I: Sodium Butyrate and its inhibition of cancer cells

Author/Year Purpose Methods Results

Salimi et al. 2017

To investigate the role of sodium butyrate in apoptosis in breast cancer cells.

The Cytotec effect of Nabu on breast cancer cells was determined using an MTT assay. Flow cytometry was used to detect apoptosis.

Nabu apoptosis was accompanied by reduced reactive oxygen formation and impairment of the mitochondria. In normal breast cells, there were no significant differences. The study focuses helps show the pathway that sodium butyrate affects cancer cells Sodium butyrate was found to be a histone deacetylase inhibitor. Shows the mechanism by which butyrate inhibits cancer cells.

This section will explore the answer to the question of how sodium butyrate can affect the size of cancer cells or aid in their reduction. A study conducted on breast cancer cells in 2017 found that sodium butyrate apoptosis, or cell death, was accompanied by reduced reactive oxygen formation and impairment of the mitochondria of breast


cancer cells. Sodium butyrate is an SCFA that has shown important anti-cancer activity as a histone deacetylase inhibitor.4

A study by Salimi et al. (2017) found that apoptosis of cancer cells was caused by sodium butyrate-induced activation of caspases 3 and 8. However, Salimi et al. also points out that sodium butyrate does not promote cell death in healthy cells. This study was also consistent with previous studies5 using other types of cancer cells that indicated that sodium butyrate induces cancer cell apoptosis via oxidative stress through decreased reactive oxygen formation. Salimi et al. indicates from these findings that this pathway of cell cycle arrest is not exclusive to only one type of cancer.

The mechanism in which sodium butyrate can inhibit tumor growth via mitochondrial impairment and oxidative stress is important to consider when thinking of the microbiome. Many gut bacteria produce sodium butyrate, so gut bacteria may have the ability to kill cancer cells, as many produce sodium butyrate. Salimi et al. state that “the relevance of Sodium butyrate and cancer cell growth has yet to be investigated in many cancers, (pg 2).”4 Although this study focused on breast cancer cells, evidence of apoptosis due to sodium butyrate has been shown in other types of cancers. More recent studies that have explored this phenomenon in lung and other cancers will be explored in the next section.

Before exploring the ways that research into the gut microbiome has allowed for new advances in lung cancer treatment and detection, the relationship between lung cancer and the microbiome must be given context. Although it is clear there is a relationship between gut and lung, there is still a lot that is unknown. The gut-lung axis gives insight into what specific microbial changes are important to the immune system and why. This section will explore the gut lung axis and how it relates to lung immunity and lung cancer.

The methodology of the three studies that will be mentioned was similar in that they analyzed the fecal microbiomes of mice and/or humans. Jin et al., Arrieta et al., and Gui et al. (2020), all used qPCR and 16sRNA techniques to analyze the microbiota present and determine the abundance and phyla of gut bacteria present. Gui et al. used a small sample size and did not use testing with germ-free mice to validate the findings like Arrieta et al. and Jin et al. The testing of germ-free mice helps validate these findings, as they are genetically engineered to mimic lung cancer. All three studies also found Faecelibacterium to have an important role, which indicates a relationship

4 Salimi, V., Shahsavari, Z., Safizadeh, B. et al. Sodium butyrate promotes apoptosis in breast cancer cells through reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation and mitochondrial impairment. Lipids Health Dis 16, 208 (2017). s12944-017-0593-4

5 Louis, M., Rosato, R.R., Brault, L., Osbild, S., Battaglia, E., Yang, X. ... Bagrel, D. (2004). The histone deacetylase inhibitor sodium butyrate induces breast cancer cell apoptosis through diverse cytotoxic actions including glutathione depletion and oxidative stress. International Journal of Oncology, 25, 1701-1711.

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II: Sodium Butyrate and its inhibition of cancer cells

Author/ Year Purpose Methods

Gui et al. 2020

To investigate the association between butyrate-producing bacteria and non-small cell lung cancer.

This study used qualitative PCR to detect the expression of eight butyrate-producing bacteria in healthy adults and NSCLC. Data was collected by fecal samples.

Important Findings

Sodium butyrate can induce apoptosis of lung cancer cells and inhibit their growth. This also applies to lung cancer as it increases the expression of p glycoprotein in lung cancer cells.

Jin et al. 2019

To investigate how microbiota of the lung promote cancer development via T-cells.

Used a genetically engineered mouse that mimics lung cancer. To examine the microbiota in the mice 16 S rDNA qPCR analysis was done.

Shows that depletion of microbiota is linked to the development of lung cancer in mice. Microbiota can help shape lung immunity and protect against airway inflammation by T-cells.

Arrieta et al. 2015

To investigate early infants’ microbial metabolism to see how it affects the risk of asthma .

Four bacterial genera were analyzed by qPCR from fecal samples collected from very young infants. Mice were injected with the four bacterial taxa.

Infants at the risk of asthma had gut microbial dysbiosis during the first few months of life. The abundance of Faecfalibacterium was reduced, as well as the other three genera. The mouse model demonstrated that these bacteria have a role in reducing the risk of asthma.

between lung immunity and lung cancer. Arrieta et al. (2015) found that antibiotic usage contributed to decreased microbial diversity in the gut leading to decreased lung immunity, while Jin et al. (2019) found that antibiotic usage helped contribute to the reduction of lung microbiota diversity in the airway which led to a decrease in the progression of lung cancer.

Arrieta et al. examined the gut microbiome of infants during their first 100 days of life. Exposure to antibiotics in infants was found to be a significant indicator of a loss of microbe populations. The significant reductions of populations Faecalibacterium, Lachnospira, Veillonella, and Rothia were linked to a higher risk of asthma and compromised immune systems. However, Arrieta et al. was unable to determine whether the changes in the gut microbiome were preexisting and caused an inflammation or are a result of asthma.


The findings of Arrieta et al. provided a basis for a study performed in 2019. Jin et al. were able to further explore the relationship of causality between lung immunity and the role of microbes. However, this study focused on lung cancer cells and the development of T-cells, which are vital to fighting lung cancer.6 Additionally, Jin et al. used findings from airway microbiota rather than intestinal microbiota. Jin et al. discovered that “depleting microbiota or inhibiting γδ T-cells or their downstream effector molecules all effectively suppressed lung cancer development (p4)”.7 Jin et al. results indicate that the reduction of certain lung microbiota leads to an improvement in lung cancer status.

The findings of Jin et al. help indicate that there are two separate and different types of relationships between the microbiomes of the lung and gut that contribute to lung immunity. However, how the interactions of the lung and gut microbiota contribute to one another are still unclear. Future research is needed in describing the distinct lung microbiota signatures in lung cancer patients and how these compare with gut microbiota.

Gui et al. (2020) also found that Firmicutes like Facelibacterium and Clostridium, which produce sodium butyrate, were significantly reduced in lung cancer patients. Gui et al. examined the gut microbiota in fecal samples of healthy and lung cancer patients. According to Gui et al. his results confirm “a significant correlation between the gut microbiota and lung cancer (p.6)”.

All three studies do not establish a clear indication as to whether the reduction or enlargement of a certain population of microbe/s is responsible for lung immunity. The results of Jin et al., Gui et al. and Arrieta et al. are consistent with the idea that the phyla of lung microbiota and gut microbiota both play a role in the gut lung axis and affect cancer development. The next section will explore how these distinct changes in the gut microbiome have allowed for a new way for lung cancer to be detected.

One of the ways the research on the gut lung axis has been helpful in lung cancer research is its usage as biomarkers. Specifically, the abundance of certain phyla present only in lung cancer patients helps indicate its presence. Zheng et al. (2020) and Ren et al. (2017) characterized OTUs, or operational taxonomic units, which are used to compare markers of specific bacteria. Ren et al. investigated the relationship between gut microbiota and hepatocellular carcinoma, or liver cancer. Zhuang et al. (2019) further investigated the alterations that the gut microbiome undergoes during lung

6 Reuben, A., Zhang, J., Chiou, S. H., Gittelman, R. M., Li, J., Lee, W. C., Fujimoto, J., Behrens, C., Liu, X., Wang, F., Quek, K., Wang, C., Kheradmand, F., Chen, R., Chow, C. W., Lin, H., Bernatchez, C., Jalali, A., Hu, X., Wu, C. J., … Zhang, J. (2020). Comprehensive T cell repertoire characterization of non-small cell lung cancer. Nature communications, 11(1), 603.

7 Jin, C., Lagoudas, G. K., Zhao, C., Bullman, S., Bhutkar, A., Hu, B., Ameh, S., Sandel, D., Liang, X. S., Mazzilli, S., Whary, M. T., Meyerson, M., Germain, R., Blainey, P. C., Fox, J. G., & Jacks, T. (2019). Commensal Microbiota Promote Lung Cancer Development via γδ T Cells. Cell, 176(5), 998–1013.e16.

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III: The role of the gut microbiota as biomarkers for lung cancer

Author/ Year Purpose

Zheng et al. (2020)

To investigate specific gut microbiome in predicting early-stage lung cancer.


16 S rRNA gene sequencing was performed using fecal samples from lung cancer patients and healthy individuals. The abundance of four phyla of gut bacteria was examined.

Important Findings

Establishes that an overall specific gut microbial biomarker may be used to predict lung cancer.

Zhuang et al. 2019

To investigate the gut microbiota of lung cancer patients.

The gut microbiota of 30 LC patients and 30 controls were examined via 16 S rRNA and analyzed for diversity and biomarkers.

Identified reduced Actinobacteria and Bifidobacterium as potential biomarkers of lung cancer. The study also offers a very detailed table of the decline in certain functions of microbiota in LC patients which other studies have not covered.

Ren et al. 2017

To investigate the gut microbiome of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma and evaluate which biomarkers may be used to detect HCC.

Fecal samples of patients in China were collected. The gut microbiome of these patients was analyzed, and microbial gut markers were characterized.

Early-stage cirrhosis patients had a decreased amount of Actinobacteria and Bifidobacterium. The study indicates that early cancer like HCC can be predicted by microbial gut markers. The first study to characterize the gut microbiome of patients with HCC.

cancer rather than liver cancer. This was elaborated on further by Zheng et al. (2020) who investigated whether gut microbe biomarkers like those found by Ren et. al could be identified in early-stage lung cancer. The results were consistent with the findings of Zhuang et al. (2019), in that there were unique gut microbe signatures present in lung cancer patients as compared to healthy ones. Zheng et al. and Ren et al. both used cross-validation from different regions to confirm and validate the accuracy of the OTU system, however only Zheng et al. also used patients with liver cirrhosis to measure differentiation. Zheng et al. only used 13 OUT makers, compared to the 30 used by Ren et al.

Ren et al. used gut microbiota data to determine biomarkers for liver cancer. This study was the first to use cross-regional validation, by using samples from different regions of China. This helped confirm the accuracy of the OUT-based system and


shows a potential way for early detection of liver cancer via microbial markers. The OTUs were able to differentiate and predict between healthy patients and patients with liver cirrhosis which is not the same as liver cancer.

Zhuang et al. and Zheng et al. found Actinobacteria and Bifidobacterium were reduced in lung cancer patients, which Ren et al. also found to be reduced in the patients with liver cancer. Therefore, it can be inferred that the similar results indicate a similar signature for even different cancer types. The similar signatures are given by many cancers, as they seem to all involve a general decrease in butyrate-producing bacteria which may make it harder for the OTU model to accurately differentiate between different types of cancer.

The importance of these certain phyla is that they increase SCFA production.8 As mentioned in the previous section, SCFAs or short chain fatty aid in lung immunity by controlling T- cells, which protect the airway from inflammation8. However, there is not just one microbe that contributes to cancer, as the overall composition of the microbiome is more important. Zheng et al. states that “No microbe was found to be specifically increased only in the non-metastatic patients when compared with the healthy controls and the metastatic patients (pg 6).”8 This is important when considering that the microbiome of a lung cancer patient is very distinct and has many different individual alterations.


The predictive model with 13 operational taxonomic unit (OTU)-based biomarkers achieved high accuracy in lung cancer prediction. Zheng et al. (2020) narrowed down the 97 OTUs detected to 13.

Figure 1, taken from Zheng et al., illustrates that there is a clear separation between the healthy and lung cancer patients, which indicates the effectiveness of the OTUbased system implemented. Zheng et al. concluded that their 13 OTU marker-based system is more “accurate and reproducible, (p.8)9” because of the efficiency of the 16 S rRNA sequencing.

However, there are limitations to this technique as it is not able to identify the full taxa of the gut microbiome. One study in 2021, found that “16 S rRNA gene sequencing detects only part of the gut microbiota community revealed by shotgun

Gut microbes, 11(4), 1030–1042.

Gut microbes, 11(4), 1030–1042.

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8 Zheng, Y., Fang, Z., Xue, Y., Zhang, J., Zhu, J., Gao, R., Yao, S., Ye, Y., Wang, S., Lin, C., Chen, S., Huang, H., Hu, L., Jiang, G. N., Qin, H., Zhang, P., Chen, J., & Ji, H. (2020). Specific gut microbiome signature predicts the early-stage lung cancer.
9 Zheng, Y., Fang, Z., Xue, Y., Zhang, J., Zhu, J., Gao, R., Yao, S., Ye, Y., Wang, S., Lin, C., Chen, S., Huang, H., Hu, L., Jiang, G. N., Qin, H., Zhang, P., Chen, J., & Ji, H. (2020). Specific gut microbiome signature predicts the early-stage lung cancer.

III: The role of the gut microbiota as biomarkers for lung cancer

sequencing (pg.1)”10. This indicates that a more accurate depiction of phyla not as abundantly present would be more effectively done by shotgun sequencing. This means that the findings of Zheng et al. (2020) as well as all the other studies conducted using 16 S rRNA may have not found certain less abundant phyla that may also act as more accurate OTU-based markers.

In this section, I will explore how alterations to the gut microbiota via external methods have allowed for a change in the development of lung cancer. All studies mentioned also used 16 S rRNA sequencing for identification using fecal samples. Gui et al. (2015) and Chen et al. (2020) both treated mice with multiple antibiotics followed by probiotics to establish a healthy microbiome followed by observation via in vivo tumor growth. Both Gui et al. and Chen et al. indicate that the increased production of certain gut microbiota via probiotics helps lead to tumor size reduction and enhances the efficiency of chemotherapy. Gui et al. and Chen et al. also used germ-free mice to help confirm their results. Sun et al. (2020) used only patients with colorectal cancer and is the only study within this review that was performed in a successful human clinical trial. Sun et al. was able to show how a new integrative cancer therapy can be developed to help increase the production of certain beneficial antimalignancy bacteria.

10 Durazzi, F., Sala, C., Castellani, G. et al. Comparison between 16S rRNA and shotgun sequencing data for the taxonomic characterization of the gut microbiota. Sci Rep 11, 3030 (2021). Figure 1: taken from Yajuan et. al 2020 “Figure 1c the PDI distributions of healthy and lung cancer patients”

IV: The Gut microbiome in new lung cancer therapies

Author/ Year Purpose Methods Results

Chen et al. 2020 To investigate the Akkermensia muciniphilia effect on tumor growth using Lewis lung cancer mice.

Cisplatin and AKK were combined to intervene in the mice, while in vivo imaging was. used to measure tumor size. Transcriptome sequencing was used to screen different expressed genes.

This study found that AKK is often decreased in lung cancer patients.

Sun et al. 2020 To investigate the effectiveness of Quixie capsules on the survival of patients with tumors from colorectal cancer.

Randomized double placebo-controlled clinical trial in China that used a Quixie capsule or control group. Stool samples were collected and analyzed via 16 S rRNA analysis and blood samples.

Gut microbiota was utilized as a way to control T-cells which help fight cancers Q capsule could enhance T-cells and increase the abundance of anti-cancer butyrateproducing bacteria.

Gui et al. 2015 To investigate the anticancer response in wellbalanced microbiota in a mouse model.

The microbiome of mice from fecal matter was measured by 16 S rRNA sequencing.

Found that microbiota influences metabolism, tissue development, and immunity of the human body. The study showed that mice treated with chemo and Lactobacillus bacteria had a smaller tumor size and greater survival rate.

Sun et al., Chen et al., and Gui et. al. had similar findings in that the production of sodium butyrate-producing bacteria helps aid in slowing the progression of cancer. This section will show the findings of studies that have indicated that the treatment via probiotics or the promotion of a healthy microbiome allows tumors to be reduced. In the future, more research is needed into how this mechanism can be used within humans.

In a study conducted by Gui et al. in 2015, germ-free mice were used to measure the anti-cancer response in well-balanced gut microbiota. Mice were treated with heavy amounts of antibiotics so that all gut bacteria would be killed. One group was given probiotics in addition to cisplatin (chemo). One group of mice was given only probiotics (Lactobacillus) so that only healthy microbiota would live within the gut. Mice were treated with Lewis Lung cancer cells and their tumor sizes were monitored. Besides the placebo group of mice, the other groups were injected with cisplatin. The

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one group that was given both probiotics and cisplatin had a significantly smaller tumor size, compared to the group that was given only cisplatin.11

This study was elaborated on further in 2020 by Chen et al., who studied the specific interaction of Akkermensia munichphilia (AKK) in patients with lung cancer. Chen et al. suggest that AKK combined with cisplatin may enhance immune regulation, as AKK was found to be reduced in lung cancer patients.12 Chen et al., in comparison to other studies, was more representative in identifying the relationship of how certain microbiota help reduce the size of lung cancer specifically. In addition to chemotherapy, other methods of reducing tumor formation have been researched.

The study by Sun et al. (2020) focuses on how the gut microbiota is influenced by the treatment of cancer by using a therapy involving Quixie capsules. Sun et al. found that QX treatment was positively related to Actinobacteria, which are SFCAproducing and immunity-enhancing bacteria.13 This result indicates that the Quixie capsule can modulate the production of SCFA-producing bacteria which inhibit metastasis of cancer cells. Zheng et al. also found that a reduction in SCFAs leads to a progression in lung cancer which means this technique could be applied to lung cancer patients as well. This similarity indicates that Quixie capsules may have a positive effect on patients with lung cancer as well. Overall, these studies all indicate that the promotion of a healthy, diverse microbiome may help lead to a better prognosis in lung cancer patients.


The unique microbial signatures of the gut allow for the identification and enhancement of treatment against lung cancer. The studies discussed in this review indicate the overall importance of the abundance of sodium butyrate-producing bacteria within the gut microbiome. Sodium butyrate can promote cell death of cancer cells by mechanisms that are not specific to one cancer. The amount of sodium butyrate-producing bacteria within the gut seems to have a relationship with the overall immunity of a person and their ability to fight cancer. Recent studies that have examined the lungs’ relationship to the gut show that changes in the microbiome

11 Gui, Q. F., Lu, H. F., Zhang, C. X., Xu, Z. R., & Yang, Y. H. (2015). Well-balanced commensal microbiota contributes to anti-cancer response in a lung cancer mouse model. Genetics and molecular research: GMR, 14(2), 5642–5651. https://doi. org/10.4238/2015.May.25.16

12 Chen, Z., Qian, X., Chen, S., Fu, X., Ma, G., & Zhang, A. (2020). 0RW1S34RfeSDcfkexd09rT2Akkermansia muciniphila1RW1S34RfeSDcfkexd09rT2 enhances the antitumor effect of cisplatin in lewis lung cancer mice. Journal of Immunology Research, 2020.

13 Sun, L., Yan, Y., Chen, D., & Yang, Y. (2020). Quxie Capsule Modulating Gut Microbiome and Its Association With T cell Regulation in Patients With Metastatic Colorectal Cancer: Result From a Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. Integrative cancer therapies, 19, 1534735420969820.


specifically, a decrease in sodium butyrate-producing gut bacteria are connected to the progression of lung cancer. However, it is not clear whether these changes in gut microbiota are a direct result of lung cancer or due to interactions with lung microbiota. The studies discussed in this review establish that distinct and specific changes in the gut microbiome balance are in some way related to immunity and lung cancer, but not very clear on why. It is possible that the diversity of microbiota may only be a result of decreased immunity, which in turn leads to the progression of lung cancer. Defining these relationships is important in understanding how to change the diversity of gut microbiota to stop the development of lung cancer. This is useful to the medical and pharmaceutical industries as it will allow for treatments that involve the increase of butyrate-producing bacteria to be researched for the treatment of lung cancer. In the future, more products and research that focus more on these specific bacteria should be applied to lung cancer.


Most of the studies mentioned in this review utilized 16 S rRNA sequencing, which is the primary way of analyzing microbes from human fecal samples. As previously mentioned, newer technologies must be developed to analyze more of the less abundant phyla that may act as biomarkers. The studies that involved measuring the reduction of tumor size in patients because of the infusion of certain microbiota were not conducted directly on humans and were performed in vivo or in germ-free mice. This indicates a limitation in whether certain changes in microbe populations apply to mice as well as humans. Additionally, the fecal samples from human patients also did not necessarily account for unhealthy diets and lifestyle habits. These habits change people’s microbiome, so certain microbial changes in humans may not necessarily be from lung cancer, but other factors. Some studies overcame this challenge by using phyla from human fecal samples and injecting them into germ-free mice who were treated with antibiotics and then probiotics. However, not all studies confirmed their results via further animal testing.

More research into the 13 OTU-based system differentiation against other immunocompromising diseases and other cancers should be done to help confirm its accuracy. Additionally, more OTU markers may be identified as shotgun, metagenomic sequencing. This would be important in the medical communities as a viable way to detect lung cancer in a noninvasive method that does not require biopsy.

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Major: Neuroscience

Class of 2023


Since the Europeans colonized the Americas, the Native Americans have been forced to give up their land to make way for settlers. Most accommodated them over time and some resisted. Either way, Native American communities faced irreparable damage, and even today, living on reservations, they face hardships that most people are not accustomed to. Reservations lack the most fundamental resources, and this is the primary cause of distress in this community. The way reservations are today greatly contributes to the deterioration of the mental health of the indigenous people. Substance use disorders and suicide rates are on the rise. To take a step towards betterment and reform for this community, representation of more Native Americans in Congress is needed. Acts like the American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans Mental Health Act of 2020 need to pass in Congress to provide resolution to years’ worth of trauma that this group has unfortunately had to suffer through.


The United States of America, arguably the most powerful country in the world, is a melting pot of many different ethnicities and nationalities. The coexistence of such diverse communities allows the US to be a role model for the rest of the world. However, one community that has attempted to coexist with the American way of living, giving up its land for settlers since the very beginning of times, has unfortunately been ill-treated and stripped of its quality of life. That community would be the Native Americans. Native Americans, who can trace their ancestry in North America as far back as the beginning of history, are underserved and are one of the most underrepresented groups in the entirety of the United States. The United States Constitution has guaranteed life,


liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all citizens, but, sadly, the last element of this declaration has not been carried through to the indigenous people.

Since the European colonization of the Americas, Natives have been subjugated, and the sovereign nations that persisted were eradicated from existence through forced diaspora. The most infamous instance is the Trail of Tears, which caused a tremendous loss of life (Myhra, 2020). Today, with a major portion of the Native American population decimated, Natives are still not given the care they deserve (Myhra, 2020). Though reservations have been made for them, life on the reservations lacks the most fundamental resources one needs in today’s day and age. Because of this, many suffer mental distress.

Even though reservations have been built so Native Americans can practice and maintain their culture and customs, they lack major financial and health-related resources. Most indigenous people on reservations lead a poor quality of life, living through poverty and seclusion (FireMoon, 2020). Many, because of the nature of reservations, develop mental health issues that haunt them for the rest of their lives. Even worse, many times, they are not capable of affording treatment, forcing them to resort to their community, which in today’s day and age has drifted towards social isolation (FireMoon, 2020). Due to a lack of funds and basic facilities, it can be inferred that, to a great extent, reservation life is contributing to mental health issues within Native American communities. Two of the most major ones are substance use disorders due to insufficient healthcare resources and suicide due to social isolation.


Substance use disorders (SUDs) exist in all communities, but a lack of resources and medical attention on reservations has exacerbated the preexisting issue, lengthening the mental struggle in Native communities. Substance use disorders involve drugs and alcohol and are developed when a person reaches a mental and physical point of dependency on them that leads to unhealthy levels of consumption. Though SUDs exist in all communities, the fact that Native American adults “exhibit high rates of binge drinking, heavy drinking, and illicit drug use” in comparison to adults in other “racioethnic groups” reveals the predisposition the Indigenous people have to developing these disorders (Serier, 2020). If a community has higher rates of substance abuse, it will consequently have higher rates of developing addiction, and the mere fact that Native Americans are “more than twice as likely to have SUDs than the general population” reveals just that (Hallum, 2019). In addition, if “alcohol mortality rates for AI/ANs are approximately five times the rates of the general population” and the mortality rate for “other drugs is nearly double the rate for the general population,” one can reasonably


conclude that these statistics include deaths due to SUDs, as substance addiction has an extremely high probability of leading to death (Hallum, 2019). Not only do these statistics reveal the magnitude of the SUDs among the Native community, they allow one to gauge the impact of SUDs on this specific community in comparison to the rest of the Unites States. Considering the skyrocketing rates of addiction and mortality that may be caused by SUDs in the Native community, one cannot help but wonder why these rates are specifically high in Native communities.

The rates of SUDs may be high among indigenous people due to the traumatic past that they experienced, and considering the state of healthcare on reservations, one can reasonably assume that that must be a contributing factor in exacerbating and extending SUDs among Natives. In fact, Native Americans have “the greatest unmet need for treatment among all ethnic groups in the United States” (Hallum, 2019). The Indian Health Service has tried to create clinics on reservations to compensate for the lack of resources and treatments, but “IHS is severely and chronically underfunded,” and because of this, individuals “may be denied provider recommended services” (Sommerfeld, 2018). This causes Natives to be forced to pay out of pocket or carry on without the treatment they need (Sommerfield, 2018). It may be argued that they can use health insurance to pay for the services, but Natives are “more likely to be uninsured” compared to the rest of the United Sates (Sommerfield, 2018). Healthcare in general is losing its affordability as time goes on, and people living on reservations already lack resources, which causes them to not invest in healthcare to cover health costs. Even if they do have the money to pay for the resources, the health clinics, as mentioned above, do not have the ability to support a large number of people, and because of this, Natives “must travel to seek care, which adds an additional barrier and may prevent them from receiving needed services,” (Gonzalez, 2020). Even if a treatment is developed in clinics on the reservations, “efficacious treatment is useless without avenues for implementation,” and the clinics do not have resources to create treatment options, nor any means of distribution nor manufacture (Venner, 2012). Considering the dire conditions of healthcare on reservations, one speculates whether the rate of SUDs, disorders that cause mental and physical distress, in the Native American population may have been lower had there been adequate healthcare on reservations. The mere fact that Natives have the possibility of being denied treatment they need to treat SUDs is sufficient evidence that the conditions on reservations are making SUDs and other mental health problems among Native Americans worse.


In addition to the conditions on reservations making SUDs worse among Natives,


social isolation on reservations has increased depression among Natives as well, leading to suicides. Every community has individuals struggling from depression that end up taking their own lives, but the fact that American Indian and Alaskan Native youth “carry the greatest burden of suicide attempts and deaths in NM [New Mexico]” is shocking (Qeadan, 2020). In fact, New Mexico has suicide rates that have increased… [and are] double the national average,” making suicide the “eighth leading cause of death” in the state in 2015 (Qeadan, 2020). The fact that indigenous people constitute the largest percentage of suicides in the state discloses the poor condition of the Native youth and calls for an urgent need for intervention. A study conducted at TCU (Tribal Colleges and Universities), a place “reflecting the cultural and social norms of the local AI/AN reservation,” suggests that behavior indicating positive mental health and the reporting of suicidal behavior can be enhanced among Natives through “community campaigns to support changes in interpersonal communication styles, and inclusion in community events” (Duran, 2020). By having solid social support and a feeling of belonging, instances of suicides or even depression can be avoided in general. Unfortunately, as time goes on, reservations are starting to lack just that, contributing to increases in suicide and depression.

American Indian communities were known to be tight-knit and extremely vibrant culturally, but as time has progressed and reservations have become the norm, Native Americans find themselves distant from one another. Earlier in history, when reservations were not developed, and some Natives were living in tipis housing eight people “within encampments of 200–800 persons,” everyday life “focused on hunting and ceremonial engagement” (FireMoon, 2020). The social life Natives had was exuberant, but as time went on, Native Americans had little choice other than to live in “independent households” on reservations, and this stripped them of the dynamic “family structure” they had had in “pre-reservation days” (FireMoon, 2020). The “opportunities for everyday contacts with community members and kin,” something foundational to the entire Native American culture, were greatly reduced, further creating distance among the community members (FireMoon, 2020). This “lack of intimate and close connections” ultimately has caused the community, especially the young people, to feel “distressed and lonely” on reservations, spurring a “problematic trend” of suicide in the youth (FireMoon, 2020). According to the interpersonal-psychology theory, the act of suicide is further exacerbated by “a sense of low belongingness or social isolation over a long period of time,” and, unfortunately, as time goes on, social isolation is becoming more prevalent in this community, which will only increase rates of suicide (Quedan, 2020). Not only do reservations lack the fundamental resources to sustain a healthy life, they are starting to head towards social isolation, and this, without a doubt, is having an extreme detrimental mental effect on the youth, contributing to suicide rates

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among this group of people.


The United States created the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service to better the overall well-being of Natives living on and off reservations. Even though this may be true, the fact that “four of the nation’s five counties with the lowest life expectancy at birth are located on AI/AN land in North and South Dakota” reveals that the actions taken by the government are not enough and that the living conditions on reservations are not ideal by any means (Armstrong, 2020). One may dismiss one or two counties, but the fact that four out of five counties with the lowest life expectancies are inhabited by Indigenous people is saddening, as these people, people who the land actually belongs to, are leading poor and shortened lives. Even in 2019, during the partial government shutdown, the Indian Health Service was affected greatly, while “Medicare, Medicaid, and the Veterans Health Administration” were spared from the repercussions (Armstrong, 2020). The Indian Health Service delivers care to “2.56 million” Natives, and the fact that services involving citizens’ health were impacted for a certain group of people for a shutdown of merely 35 days reveals the dire condition and calls for an immediate reform to improve the quality of life of these people (Armstrong, 2020). Considering these statistics, it can be concluded that living on reservations is hugely impacting quality of life of Natives’ mental and overall health due to the unstable nature of vital services.

Others may believe that living on reservations is a personal choice and that if something is done through consent, it cannot be a source of distress. Though it is a personal choice, given the trauma Natives have been through together and the number of Native tribes that have historically been eradicated from existence, it is understandable that they still have the desire to live together, even if that means sacrificing necessities and living on reservations. Through the course of history, forceful migrations of Natives have taken place, which have caused a huge loss of Native American lives. Because of the Trail of Tears alone, “10,000” people perished (Myhra, 2020). Cherokees were put into “concentration camps” without “food or any belongings,” while many women were raped and children were beaten (Myhra, 2020). The fact that this is just one of many examples of a forceful migration reveals a lot of disturbing elements of the history of the ill treatment that Natives have endured. Having gone through so much mental, physical, emotional, economic, and social abuse together and having their culture practically destroyed, their desire to remain in a tight community on reservations with people they connect with explains their need to stay on reservations even if the living conditions are not ideal. Because a small number of tribes remain,


it is harder to instill the culture in their posterity, which may be another reason why they choose to live the way they do. The argument that Natives choosing to live on reservations means reservations cannot be a contributing factor in the deterioration of their mental health is therefore flawed because Natives may be prioritizing their community over their personal needs.


Considering how reservation life has the potential to do more harm than good, it can reasonably be concluded that the state of reservations today has a huge impact on the mental health of Indigenous people. For example, SUDs exist in all communities, but what differentiates the Native communities from other communities is the complete lack of healthcare on reservations. Other communities have the benefits of health insurance, but for Native Americans, attaining that itself is a struggle, and this contributes to higher rates of addictions within the community as well as other unattended issues. Another example of the effect of living on reservations is a loss of a communal experience, which leads to an increase in the rates of suicide in Native communities. Social support is vital for any human being to thrive, but the fact that Native Americans are not getting enough of that and are instead heading towards social isolation is contributing towards suicide rates in the community, especially in adolescents.

To compensate for the trauma this community has gone through, legislation needs to pass that allocates funds towards sufficient healthcare on reservations. To do that, there needs to be more representation of Natives in Congress and in other governmental bodies, because, presently, the Native community is highly underrepresented. Currently, among the few Native American leaders is Congressman Tom Cole of Oklahoma, who has introduced the American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans Mental Health Act of 2020 (“Congressman,” 2020). Under this act, the VA (Department of Veteran’ Affairs) would be required to have a coordinator who would make sure that every VA medical facility is prepared to provide care to Native American veterans (“Congressman,” 2020). Plans like these are being put forth, but since they only cater to a specific portion of the Native population, they cannot be the only solution. Since a reliable form of healthcare takes time to develop for the entire Native American community and every individual must have access to healthcare no matter the circumstances, reservations can hold free outpatient clinics that have a team of professionals meeting with Natives frequently. Each reservation can have its own unique team. From both a consumer and provider perspective, this option is not as taxing as it seems, as many such teams exist in the US and around the world and many healthcare professionals voluntarily hold clinics free of cost every year. Having an interdisciplinary approach to healthcare benefits the

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Native American community, as more people are seen by professionals in less time and with multiple approaches offered to tackle an issue. In addition, because healthcare will take time to develop and many reservations are in isolated places, there needs to be legislation that provides sufficient infrastructure for Natives to travel to other locations to get their health conditions treated, as travel is a major barrier for many. There also needs to be more mental health awareness campaigns in the reservations because they are extremely secluded from the rest of the American society and the topic of mental health can be extremely taboo. Adolescents should have access to counseling should they need it and should be made aware of the resources they have access to as American citizens. There are many ways the quality of life of Natives can be enhanced, and with an urgent need of intervention due to the deterioration of mental health among the Native American population, the time to take initiative is now.



The Johnson Center, which The Washington Post once called “a mall of knowledge,” is named after former Mason president George W. Johnson (1978-1996) whose brainchild it was. Standing at 6’6”, it was said Johnson was almost as big as the building itself!


Major: Political Science

Minor: International and Comparative Studies

Class of 2022


Conflict: how do we win? How do we get an adversary to think it knows our strategy and behave based on that so that we can then take advantage of the adversary’s thinking and adjust our choices to manipulate the adversary? Rational choice theory (RCT) and its application of game theory can help us visualize and even quantify conflict; however, there are certain limitations to this approach. Behavioral analysis theory (BAT) provides insight into why nation-states make certain decisions and how to predict state behavior more accurately.

I will critically analyze the rationalist choice perspective of Thomas Schelling in Schelling’s The Strategy of Conflict (1980). Using Schelling’s application of rational choice theory (RCT) as an example, I will show how Schelling’s argument is incomplete and insufficient to handle the complexity of problems relating to international relations. Without a behavioral decision-making analysis (presented by Robert Jervis in Jervis’s Perception and Misperception in International Politics (2017)), RCT may lead to incorrect perceptions and poor decisions. First, I will introduce each author and his works. Second, I will argue that Jervis’s BAT argument identifies and provides solutions to Schelling’s weaknesses. Third, I will argue for an approach giving a strengthened view of RCT when it is supported by BAT.


Schelling (1980) views rational behavior as behavior consistent with one’s value system that leads to the greatest utility or benefit for the actor. Therefore, even those considered “neurotic,” Schelling suggests, can have a deeper level of rational behavior


that, although seemingly irrational on the surface, results in behavior consistent with the “neurotic” actor’s value system (1980). Conversely, an irrational actor would be an actor who does not act according to its own value system and instead consistently behaves in ways that harm rather than benefit the actor. I will use this understanding of “rational” and “irrational” actors.


RCT involves how such rational actors analyze a set of options and determine which will provide the best utility in relation to the choices of other actor(s). Political theorist Stephen Walt (1999) refers to RCT as “formal theory,” which Walt defines as “the construction of specific mathematical models intended to represent particular real-world situations and the use of mathematics to identify the specific solutions (“equilibria”)” (p. 9). In RCT, an actor weighs the importance of their choices, orders them by importance and their likelihood of being chosen, and then identifies the solution(s) that give the actor the best possible outcome relative to the best possible outcome of the other actor(s) (Walt, 1999, p. 9; Levy, 1997, p. 88). I will use the words “rational choice theory,” “rational theory,” “formal theory,” and the acronym “RCT” interchangeably.


Schelling first published The Strategy of Conflict in 1960, and it was republished in 1980. Schelling went on to win the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2005, and he passed away in 2016. In his work, Schelling examines interdependent strategies to deter conflict. Schelling applies insights from an individual actor’s behavior in games to a state’s behavior in conflicts. Through the application of game theory, Schelling works out a strategy of conflict predominantly focusing on two-player games; written during the Cold War, such examples were apt given the bipolar nature of the international system. Three important concepts that mark the essence of Schelling’s strategy for describing conflict and prescribing solutions are bargaining, game theory, and brinkmanship.


Strategy looks a lot like bargaining, Schelling explains. “[Strategy] takes conflict for granted, but also assumes common interest between the adversaries; it assumes a ‘rational’ value-maximizing mode of behavior; and it focuses on the fact that each

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participant’s ‘best’ choice of action depends on what he expects the other to do” (1980). Each actor or adversary wants the best deal, but the actor’s preferred outcome is contingent upon what that actor thinks the other actor’s preferred outcome is. The actors share mutual interests and must therefore cooperate on some level. The resulting decision by the actors may not be each actor’s favorite or best outcome, but the decision is better than no cooperation at all.

Effective bargaining involves credible threats and promises. In establishing credibility, Schelling makes several paradoxical yet compelling statements about types of strategy: “[These tactics] rest on the paradox that the power to constrain an adversary may depend on the power to bind oneself; that, in bargaining, weakness is often strength, freedom may be freedom to capitulate, and to burn bridges behind one may suffice to undo an opponent” (1980). Schelling demonstrates the power in tacit communication and coordination, which “can reveal information about a player’s value system or about the choices of action available to him… when speech often cannot” (1980). This practice helps alleviate the information asymmetry problem both actors face.

Schelling demonstrates how tacit bargaining can occur using evidence from a series of experiments. With convergent interests, Schelling concludes that, through particular “focal points,” or conspicuous points of connection, actors can cooperate and find each other. And with divergent interests, an actor can coerce the adversary through the actor “binding itself” in ways that seem to weaken the actor but actually force the adversary to make the first move (1980). For example: an actor alerting an adversary of its location, then limiting its communication by claiming the receiver malfunctioned and only the transmitter works, leaves the adversary with no other choice than to make the first move and go find the actor (1980). And in this way, the actor now has the upper hand.


Schelling incorporates game theory into his work, which helps the reader visualize his explanation of bargaining. Unlike zero-sum games, such as a game of chess, in which a player either wins or loses, Schelling’s nonzero-sum or “mixed-motive” games involve interdependence. A strategic actor “influences the other person’s choice, in a manner favorable to one’s self, by affecting the other person’s expectations on how one’s self will behave” (Schelling, 1980). Schelling explains that unlike in the zero-sum game in which an actor is trying to deceive an adversary, in a mixed-motive game, the actor wants to be “found out” knowing the adversary will act according to how it perceives the actor thinks the adversary will act (1980).

Schelling’s strategy of conflict is both a descriptive and prescriptive framework that makes it easier to visualize and quantify conflict. If a player knows why and how an


opponent will act, the player can use this information and choose strategic moves that deter the adversary from striking out. In addition, games need not be limited to two players and can have multiple actors or involve third parties. Third parties, through delegation, mediation, and information sharing, can influence the game by limiting the actor trying to win (1980). Schelling’s trump card for his strategy of conflict in RCT is brinkmanship, especially when the stakes are high (1980).


Schelling refers to the concept of “brinkmanship” when summing up his strategy of conflict. Bargaining with credible threats and promises to deter conflict involves taking risks akin to “getting onto the slope where one may fall in spite of his own best efforts to save himself, dragging his adversary with him” (Schelling, 1980). When the stakes are high, an actor must show that it will carry out its threat, not that it might (1980). One can practice brinkmanship as incremental steps, having threats grow slowly, building a “tradition of trust” (1980). Moving incrementally tempers the stakes, yet Schelling at the same time concludes that in certain instances, arms races can make sense and do not necessarily threaten stability, as the point is to build a second-strike capability, implying one does not want to make the first strike (1980). Schelling goes a step further by explaining that brinkmanship intentionally cannot fully be controlled, and the point is for a shared risk between an actor and the actor’s adversary. An example of this is setting a tripwire (1980).


Robert Jervis was inspired by Schelling’s The Strategy of Conflict to write Perception and Misperception (2017). Jervis recently passed away in December 2021. Both Jervis and Schelling were friends, with Jervis having been somewhat of a protégé of Schelling (Wheeler, 2014, p. 484). However, Jervis took a different route in examining conflict by incorporating cognitive behavioral psychology into the study of international relations (IR). While watching Schelling argue theories of deterrence with critic of deterrence

Anatol Rapaport, Jervis observed that the debate was not about theory, but about the “goals, intentions, and motives” of the then-Soviet Union (Wheeler, p. 484). Jervis wrote Perception and Misperception as a response (Wheeler, p. 484).


Perception and Misperception was first published in 1976 and was republished about

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forty years later in 2017. Like Schelling, Jervis wrote during the Cold War era. In Perception and Misperception, Jervis focuses on the cognitive processes that occur in the decision-maker’s mind, showing how and why decision-makers make apt or poor decisions. According to Jervis, “If it is true that perceptions of the other’s intentions are a crucial element of policy-making and that such perceptions are often incorrect, we need to explore how states perceive others and why and where they often go wrong” (2017). Thus, Jervis focuses on the individual level of analysis, the decision-maker, to look at how and why perceptions are created and what can be done to decrease misperceptions by decision-makers. The two most important principles from Jervis’s work are 1) how perceptions and misperceptions are formed and 2) how to deter misperception. Jervis’s work includes and builds on the theories of leading behavioral psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky (Jervis, 2017).


Jervis (2017) recognizes that, under a similar set of external circumstances, actors may produce a variety of responses. Jervis seeks to explain this phenomenon by analyzing internal processing. Knowing an actor’s belief system and its perception of the other actor can explain a spectrum of potential decisions and responses by the actor. As in a game of strategy, an intelligent actor needs to know how another actor will behave in response to each of several possible plans of action. While an actor may think it knows how it will behave, psychological understanding can assist other actors in accurately predicting how the actor will behave (2017). Jervis provides the example of how the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the John F. Kennedy administration could predict Kennedy’s behavior relating to the Bay of Pigs before Kennedy himself knew his course of action (2017).

Jervis discusses several psychological factors that assist in understanding internal processing and behavioral analysis. Decision-makers tend toward “cognitive consistency,” in which they see what they want to see and subsequently filter new data into their pre-existing images of other actors (2017). Decision-makers are also inclined to focus on immediate issues and place themselves at the center of international issues. Jervis provides the example of how the U.S. saw actions by the Soviet Union, such as providing missiles to Cuba, as direct threats to the U.S. Thus, a defensive action of increasing one’s self-defense may be interpreted as an offensive act to another actor. Information asymmetry can also prevent decision-makers from making well-informed decisions. When it comes to history, Jervis says, “history is the best teacher but its lessons are not on the surface” (2017). For example, Jervis says it is unhelpful to divide historical events simply into “successes” or “failures” (2017) as well as that decision-


makers can be influenced by first-hand experiences or experiences shared by a large group of people. Finally, decision-makers have a strong resistance to both change and to considering alternatives. Through cognitive dissonance, decision-makers can maintain their pre-conceived but disproven notions through making the accurate information fit into the decision-makers’ original statements—pretending that the decision-makers knew the right answers all along (2017).


Through identifying the process of forming perceptions and misperceptions, Jervis highlights several important misperceptions for decision-makers to consider (2017). Jervis states that decision-makers must understand the principle of decentralization. States are comprised of multiple decision-makers and do not act as a uniform, homogenous unit, as some such as political scientist Jack Levy (1997) would contend (p. 100). IR scientists James Goldgeier and Philip Tetlock (2001) would concur, saying that “[d]ecision makers virtually never work in social isolation” (p. 75). A major reason for misperception is failing to look at and understand alternative explanations, given a decision-maker’s strong bias against attitude changes (Jervis, 2017).

While Jervis claims that his work is not meant to prescribe policy, one of the suggestions Jervis does make is to have a devil’s advocate on retainer to provide alternative images of what other actors believe and value, and consequently several scenarios of how the other actor may act (2017). Goldgeier and Tetlock (2001) similarly alert that “[p]eople, even experts, are often too slow to change their minds in response to unexpected events,” particularly when circumstances are unclear (p. 100). Jervis would respond that decision-makers need to analyze beyond how they think another will act: “You must also try to estimate how the other will respond if he has intentions and perceptions that are different from those that you think he probably has” (2017).



Schelling treats actors as homogenous units, not accounting for differences in culture, beliefs, and values. Jervis would argue against this approach, saying that what one values can vary by culture and society, and that different value systems and psychological factors like biases and tendencies to draw analogies to real-world events influence perception and misperception in decision-making. Certain tactics Schelling broaches could be interpreted as threatening to some and not threatening to others.

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Both Jervis and Schelling agree that the devastation from the use of nuclear weapons on Nagasaki and Hiroshima is sufficient to deter atomic warfare now. However, one must also consider the current and future world order with multiple nuclear powers and nonstate actors that would like to acquire nuclear weapons—points Schelling’s and Jervis’s works do not discuss, with Schelling’s work understandably being older and Jervis perhaps thinking the concern of multiple nuclear powers with hungry nonstate actors a nonissue.

Without understanding one’s adversary, threats and promises, the capstone bargaining pieces of Schelling’s strategy of conflict, will be ineffective. Goldgeier and Tetlock (2001) broach the two World Wars as examples of misperceiving the enemy — in World War I, the Allied powers did “too much” by teaming up unnecessarily in response to perceived offensive dominance, and in World War II, the Allied powers did “too little” by assuming that other powers would take care of the conflict (p. 72). Thus, threats and promises were either seen as unnecessary or insufficient (p. 72; Jervis, 2017). Walt (1999) cites Barry Nalebuff in emphasizing that it is not certain how states will react to various actions: “Intervening could be seen as a sign of weakness… or it could be seen as a sign of strength” (p. 19).


As a “first-wave” rational theorist, Schelling cautioned against approaching formal theory as “solely a branch of mathematics” (Walt, 1999; Schelling, 2017); however, Jervis would likely argue that Schelling does not incorporate sufficient knowledge of the beliefs, values, and intentions of actors. Without this incorporation, decision-makers cannot accurately understand “why and where they often go wrong” (Jervis, 2017).

Included in Schelling’s approach to formal theory is Schelling’s problematic focus on two-player games. As Jervis (2017) emphasizes along with Goldgeier and Tetlock (2001), there are multiple decision-makers, and anticipating how a certain entity or state will respond depends on a variety of factors from a variety of decision-makers with authority. Schelling could have been focusing on two-player games because such games are easiest to illustrate in a matrix. Another factor could have been that Schelling wrote The Strategy of Conflict during the Cold War, when there were only two hegemonic world powers — the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Regardless, the two-player matrices do not accurately represent the multitude of decision-makers, and, as Jervis would likely add today, the multiple large powers currently in existence. Thus, Schelling’s strategic model suffers from being incomplete.

Another potential pitfall Jervis may present to Schelling is cognitive dissonance, or forcing systematic errors into a game theoretical framework. Schelling must be careful


not to follow the tendencies of “second wave” formal theorists. “Random errors can be explained away easily by strict structuralists and game theorists” Goldgeier and Tetlock caution, (2001, p. 72) and such, theorists can presume that something other than the process is wrong. Jervis discusses conversing with rational choice theorists who react to disproven results by saying, “That can’t be true!” instead of asking, “Where did my model go wrong? How do I explain this aspect of the world?” (Wheeler, 2014, p 500). Walt joins the fray, saying that when formal models result in multiple equilibria or “solutions a rational actor would not depart from unilaterally,” there is not a convincing way to deduce the explanation for why and how certain outcomes are determined to happen (Walt, 1999, p. 18). Walt does acknowledge Schelling’s divergence from this line of thought through Schelling’s principle of “focal points,” which are derived from mutual interests or understanding between actors (p. 19), but “mutual interests” is as specific as Schelling gets in looking at the beliefs and values of actors.


Schelling discusses at length the principles of rationality and irrationality, explaining that even in irrationality, certain elements can be explained as rational. Yet Schelling does not spell out the difference between a rational actor using irrational tactics from an irrational actor using irrational tactics. For example, some members of terrorist groups have been open to negotiations while others actually want to fall off the brink and drag down as many other actors as they can, such as suicide bombers. If “[r] ationality of the adversary is pertinent to the efficacy of a threat” (Schelling, 1980), then an actor should know the difference. Otherwise, the threat could easily self-inflict. This is a situation where one of Schelling’s paradoxical conclusions, less information gives more power, severely comes up short.

Jervis’s choice to focus less on rationality and more on analogies and patterns of state behavior helps to solve this problem. For example, when North Vietnam did not respond positively to U.S. demands that the North quit fighting the war in the South, it was not because North Vietnam was necessarily irrational or did not comprehend the threat; rather, North Vietnam was willing to pay the significant cost of attacks from the U.S. for North Vietnam to maintain its position (2017). In another instance, Jervis looks at the tendency for actors to be quick to make assumptions that a power is hostile, which Goldgeier and Tetlock (1999) refer to as “attribution errors,” in which it is assumed that a power is hostile when it is taking defensive steps, where in reality the power is maintaining the status quo (p. 73). The opposite can occur in which powers are assumed to be maintaining the status quo, where in actuality such powers are intending to expand. But Jervis implies that the former case of being too quick to label

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powers as hostile is more common than being too slow. Therefore, while it would be more rational to not assume hostility where it may not occur, many realists would take the “irrational” approach by saying that the risk is not worth it — a conclusion not necessarily upheld by Jervis but implied by international relations BAT. For Jervis, this emphasizes the need for devil’s advocates to provide alternative potential intentions of other states (2017).

Given Schelling’s murky distinction between rational and irrational actors each using irrational tactics, Jervis would aptly call into question Schelling’s concept of brinkmanship. Ramping up the pressure and increasing threats, considering limited warfare, and conceding that an arms race “does not necessarily lead to a more and more unstable situation” (Schelling, 1980) seems like an irresponsible course of thought and action. Without understanding one’s adversary, brinkmanship may not be the way to go.


Schelling bases his argument on the principle of credibility — to coerce one’s opponent, an actor must make a credible threat or a promise in such a way that the adversary is convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the threat or promise will be carried out. The actor must engage “the power to bind oneself” (Schelling, 1980). Jervis does not take such a high view of credibility, arguing that even when adversaries know that a threat is credible, the adversary may still act, such as North Vietnam in response to U.S. pressure (2017). Or, going to the most extreme example, Jervis presents the credibility of promising or threatening a nuclear response. No issue supersedes an allout nuclear war; therefore, a nuclear threat is futile (2017). But Schelling would look at the situation differently and say that a nuclear threat is already a credible one because it was carried out. Thus, there is a worldwide hesitancy to use nuclear weapons because of their great devastation (Jervis, 2017). As General Leslie R. Groves puts it, “Our reluctance to strike first is a military disadvantage to us; but it is also, paradoxically, a factor preventing a world conflict today” (qtd. in Schelling, 1980). With the possession of nuclear weapons by nuclear powers acting as a deterrent, Schelling argues that credible threats can still be made and limited wars can still occur with actors that possess nuclear weapons (in Schelling’s case, this was the U.S. and the Soviet Union) (1980). And therefore, rather than seeing a credible threat not panning out as hoped as a failure, Schelling would likely mark this act as but one act in a continual game of strategy. One could argue that the game of strategy Schelling first wrote about between the U.S. and the then-Soviet Union continues to this day.


Jervis suggests that to deter misperceptions, actors should make their beliefs and values “more explicit” through a devil’s advocate (2017); however, Schelling argues that “just talk” is not enough for a credible commitment (1980). Schelling emphasizes that in mixed-motive games, bargaining occurs as dynamic “maneuvers” at different stages so that the game initiated between actors becomes “irreversibly different from what it was before” (1980). With this understanding, Schelling actually does not treat actors as homogenous units, as someone like Jervis may argue, because each bargaining game is unique to Schelling. In addition, Schelling identifies a problem in the communication of information, but the problem is not a lack of information, or information asymmetry, as Jervis might argue; rather, the problem is putting too much stake in communication. Actions and maneuvers, rather than words, may convey and reveal the most accurate information (Schelling, 1980).


An obvious difference between The Strategy of Conflict and Perception and Misperception is the presence in the former and the absence in the latter of game theoretic, graphic, and mathematical models. Schelling wrote his work to provide a framework in understanding conflict strategically; Jervis wrote his work to dismantle a framework that does not lead to consistent or accurate perceptions (Wheeler, 2014). While both works may seem at odds in this respect, Schelling made it clear that he wanted his theory to apply not simply to formal theorists but also to “people concerned with practical problems” (1980), which Schelling does. Schelling continues in welcoming the concepts from experimental psychology to assist with understanding the symbolism behind an actor’s choices and expectations. Snyder, another influential figure for Jervis (Jervis, 2017; Wheeler 2014), wrote that concepts such as interdependency, the difference between deterrence and defense, costs, benefits, and utility are meant to provide tools through “an analytical framework which some may find useful” and not to find easy and likely elusive solutions (1961).

While some political scientists emphasize the need for BAT in decision-making to understand the field of IR, others caution the lack of empirical data in applying individuallevel decision-making theory with international-level collective state behavior. Levy (1997) cautions against applying generalized behavior decision-making to IR theory (p. 89, p. 98). Levy critiques expected utility theory — a principle of rational theory in which actors make utility-maximizing decisions — along with prospect theory — a psychological concept put forth by Kahneman and Tversky explaining that individuals tend toward loss aversion and make decisions that do not maximize their utilities. Levy argues that generalized BAT and behavior decision-making ideas do not work well when

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applied to the “ill-structured choice problems foreign policy leaders typically face” (p. 98). Thus, while recognizing the pervasiveness and importance of behavioral decisionmaking theories in IR, Levy still stands behind rational theory until more research is done. Schelling emphasizes the need for structure, and Levy agrees (Schelling, 1980; Levy, 1997). Levy concurrently upholds the importance of reading Jervis while also critiquing Jervis’s lack of structure: “Jervis does not systematically identify different kinds of misperceptions, specify their consequences, or demonstrate what kinds of misperceptions have the greatest impact…neither does he show how they interact with institutional and systemic factors” (Levy, 1983, p. 77).


Through critically analyzing Schelling’s work with critiques from Jervis’s work and along with input from several notable IR theorists, I suggest that RCT supported by BAT is the most relevant, useful, and realistic framework for understanding, explaining, and effectively engaging in conflict. Jervis (2017) points out that a state is made up of several parts or actors. Such “parts” could be a President, Prime Minister, Congress, Parliament, political appointee, nonstate actor, military group, cartel, mafia, or terrorist organization. Understanding the perceptions of a state’s parts is key and identifying the one(s) with the most influence is crucial. For example, Henry Kissinger had significant sway in U.S. policy as both National Security Advisor and Secretary of State during the Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford Administrations; the President’s or Prime Minister’s position in Russia is the most powerful depending on which position Vladimir Putin holds; and a military junta currently holds power in Myanmar as of February 2021.

Every game between an actor and adversary is unique with the rules adapting at every node (Schelling, 1980), but BAT bolsters an actor’s ability to make better decisions through making better perceptions. An actor can use its knowledge of how the adversary perceives the actor as well as how the adversary perceives itself so that the actor can get inside the adversary’s head. From this position, an actor can more accurately interpret its possible choices relative to those of the adversary. Accurately perceiving an adversary allows an actor to make credible threats through deliberately binding or weakening itself to manipulate the adversary. Accurately perceiving an adversary also allows an actor to identify a rational actor acting irrationally from an irrational actor acting irrationally. Thus, an actor can responsibly walk the adversary to the very edge of the brink in seemingly irrational ways until the adversary folds and the game is won.



Political scientists such as Alex Mintz and Karl Derouen Jr. have incorporated RCT and BAT into their research with works like Understanding Foreign Policy Decision Making (2010). I suggest that political researchers continue to study how BAT and RCT work together to create a strengthened understanding of making better decisions.

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Major: Government and International Politics


Class of 2021


The date is December 20th, 1777. George Washington had just encamped his fledgling Continental Army at Valley Forge Pennsylvania for the long winter ahead. The soldiers, weary from defeat after defeat, were beaten and battered, but still determined to fight on for the cause of liberty. Enduring bitter cold, cramped quarters, and scarce food, these soldiers were in desperate need of something to lift their spirits. More soldiers had deserted day after day as the conditions grew worse.1 Washington’s already meager army continued to dwindle. Washington knew that in order to maintain the integrity of his army, something would have to be done to raise its morale. Perhaps nothing in the camp would lift their spirits better than a rousing rendition of a wellknown tune, the “Ballad of Nathan Hale,” a song about a patriot who was caught spying for the Continental Army and then summarily executed in a most brutal fashion2. The men, joined by accompanying fifes and drums, loudly sang the tune together and were reminded that although they faced severe hardship, their situation could always be worse. Not only that, but they determined for themselves that men such as Nathan Hale would not die in vain. The performance of that song was exactly what those particular men of the Continental Army needed in order to remain steadfast and true to their convictions and to continue the struggle for independence. Although this story is fictional, it is entirely feasible that instances like this were

1 Gregory Massey. ““Those Dear Ragged Continentals”: Winter at Valley Forge December 1777-June 1778.” In John Laurens and the American Revolution, 86-106. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 2000. 87. 2 Frank Moore. Songs and Ballads of the American Revolution. New York: Applewood Books, 2009. 130.

common occurrences during the course of the American Revolution. Specifically, during the trying times in the early phase of the war, when victories were few and far between, some of the only comforts that these soldiers would have had would have been the songs and music that bound them together. This kind of patriotic music served to greatly impact not only the morale of the Continental Army, but also its disposition. Maintaining the integrity and disposition of the army was deemed so important that a great amount of emphasis was placed on increasing the morale of troops and thus improving the music of the army. Although there was no single song in particular which can be attributed to the victory of the colonists, the combination of the emphasis on maintaining morale and the improvement of music within the army had a sizeable impact on the ultimate outcome of the war.


Throughout the early periods of the American Revolution, the Continental Army was plagued by a sore lack of the necessary provisions that an effective fighting force would need in order to engage in combat effectively: clothing, equipment, and, perhaps most importantly, food. This lack of necessities came to a head at the late 1777 encampment of Valley Forge. The soldiers at the camp built themselves suitable shelter, but they lacked warm clothing to weather the harsh winter conditions. Additionally, they had very little in the way of nutritious food, especially in regards to meat.3 The inadequate provisions hampered the army’s fighting abilities quite early on during its stay at Valley Forge. Specifically, a number of troop movements meant to counter the British presence in Philadelphia failed due to the soldiers being either too ill-equipped or too emaciated to be an effective fighting force.4 One soldier, a Lieutenant Samuel Armstrong who had served under the Eighth Massachusetts Infantry in Saratoga and in the relief of Washington in Philadelphia, described this sore lack of food in a diary entry. On February 17, 1778, he wrote, “for seven-or-eight days back we have not received more than three-or-four days allowance of meat,” which he then understandably described as having “occasioned much desertion.”5

The conditions of Lieutenant Armstrong and his comrades deteriorated very quickly. Many officers, including Washington himself, sounded alarm bells to the Continental Congress about the wretched conditions that the men faced. Washington forcefully stated his concerns in a letter, writing, “this Army must inevitably be reduced

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3 Massey “Ragged continentals,” 87. 4 ibid 5 Joseph Lee Boyle and Samuel Armstrong. “Notes and Documents: From Saratoga to Valley Forge: The Diary of Lt. Samuel Armstrong.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 121, no. 3 (1997). 264-265. Diary entry written on February 17th 1778.

to one or other of these three things. Starve, dissolve, or disperse, in order to obtain subsistence in the best manner they can.”6 The likely source of the Continental Army’s woes was the mismanagement by the Continental Congress’ Commissary Department, which was in charge of procuring the army’s provisions. Part of the problem was that the Congress had relieved the previous Commissary General from his position and had also left the position vacant for nearly five months. Once it was finally filled, the individual appointed proved himself as inept as his predecessor.7 Compounding all of this was the difficulty of travel for supply chains across both the frozen land and the frozen waterways, a lack of wagons, and the perpetual lack of money.8 In short, it was a perfect storm which led to nearly disastrous results.

The lack of supplies was not limited to food, however. Many soldiers lacked basic clothing, let alone the wool which would have been required to keep an individual warm during a harsh winter. Soldiers often wore rags for shoes, and others had clothing in such tatters that they were nearly naked.9 This occurred not just during the Valley Forge winter, but throughout the remainder of the winters during the war. The lack of funds from the Continental Congress was so great that it took efforts from Martha Washington to rectify the failures of Congress. Washington sought to solicit donations from the rest of the female gentry to raise the desperately needed funds.10 This helped to alleviate the problem somewhat, but the root cause of the trouble remained.

As alluded to earlier by Lieutenant Armstrong’s comment regarding a severe lack of meat, the overall circumstances in which the soldiers of the Continental Army found themselves were prime conditions for low morale, high occurrences of desertion, and major threats of mutiny within the ranks. The soldiers had grown impatient and weary, and many resorted to protest. Washington worried that he would have a mutiny on his hands unless the situation changed dramatically.11 One of his close aides, John Laurens, stated simply that “the soldiers were scarcely restrained from mutiny.”12 Although greatly amplified during this period, the frequent desertion from the army was not new. One instance which Washington alludes to in his October 1775 General Order described two soldiers, Ensign Proctor and John Gallop, who had “absent[ed]” themselves from “[their] regiment,” and were then caught and dealt with accordingly.

6 From George Washington to Henry Laurens, 23 December 1777, Founders Online, National Archives.

7 Massey “Ragged continentals,” 87.

8 Boyle, “Diary of Lt. Armstrong,” 265.

9 Massey “Ragged continentals,” 87.

10 Thompson, Mary V. ““As If I Had Been a Very Great Somebody”: Martha Washington’s Revolution,” In Women in the American Revolution: Gender, Politics, and the Domestic World, Ed. Barbara Oberg, (Charlottesville, Virginia: University of Virginia Press, 2019), 128.

11 Massey “Ragged continentals,” 87.

12 J. Laurens to H. Laurens, Feb. 17,1778, Simms, The Army Correspondence of Colonel John Laurens, 126.


13Due to constant defeat, the lack of necessities, and poor weather throughout the early years of the war, desertion was an incredibly common occurrence.


Clearly, the circumstances that the Continental Army faced were far from ideal and were also mostly unavoidable. Because the army could not solve these issues at their core, they instead had to work to reduce the symptoms, which were primarily low morale and desertion. One of the most efficient ways to reduce instances of desertion and to generally improve conditions amongst a fighting force is to promote morale and esprit de corps through a variety of means. This esprit de corps, or the common feelings of pride, fellowship, and investment in one’s group, was most definitely evident within the Continental Army. However, growing this feeling was often made difficult for a number of reasons, including a wide diversity of backgrounds amongst the men, different motivations for fighting, and a general lack of recognition of their suffering from fellow Americans.14 The numbers of the Continental Army dwindled in size during the early years of the war, as soldiers would gradually and silently escape to their homes to avoid the hardships that they faced.15

Knowing these difficulties that come with forming a brand-new army, Washington placed a major emphasis on the improvement of morale and esprit de corps by investing in the welfare of his troops. He was very concerned with the overall disposition of his fighting force, as he recognized that they were a finite resource and that there would be little in the way of reinforcements provided to him. For Washington, his fear was “a long-standing disposition based on the scarcity of troops.”16 In other words, Washington was designing his plans based on avoiding a large-scale battle, which he had not nearly enough troops to fight and would likely result in decisive defeat.17 Essentially, Washington’s primary focus was on ensuring the survival of the Continental Army in order to prolong the war and weaken the British resolve to continue to fight. Washington also recognized the importance of keeping the morale of the troops as high as possible for this same end, to preserve his fighting force for as long as possible. He understood that the American Revolution would be a war of attrition, and that whichever army remained standing with the will to fight would be the ultimate victor.

13 “General Orders, 3 October 1775,” Founders Online, National Archives.

14 Harry Ward. George Washington’s Enforcers: Policing the Continental Army (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2006), 15.

15 Robert Middlekauff, The Glorious Cause: the American Revolution, 1763-1789 (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2007), 24.

16 Middlekauff, The Glorious Cause, 24.

17 Middlekauff, The Glorious Cause, 20.

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To this end, he took the utmost care to protect the viability of his fighting force.

An excellent example of Washington’s stance on the importance of maintaining morale is his General Order from October 3, 1775. The primary purpose of this order was to ban “gaming” (gambling) within the ranks. The order provides a wholesale ban on playing “Toss-up, pitch & hustle, or any other Games of chance,” likely due to the tendency for these sorts of games to end in violent outburst, and also due to their ability to sow discord in the ranks.18 However, although it may seem counterintuitive, the remainder of this order encourages recreation and other forms of relaxation besides gambling.19 Washington qualifies the order specifically by stating that he does not mean “to discourage sports of exercise and recreation,” instead, he only desires to discourage and punish “Gaming.”20 In other words, Washington’s General Order makes it very clear to his soldiers and subordinates that recreation as a tool to improve morale is highly encouraged, but only if it is in a productive manner.

Additionally, this order served to discourage desertion through more direct means. It begins by describing two individuals under Washington’s command who deserted from the army for a period. He then listed their punishments to remind his soldiers that anyone caught deserting would see something similar. Publicly broadcasting these instances was a clear attempt to make an example of these deserters and prevent it from happening more in the future. Another simple example of Washington directly taking action to improve morale is found within another General Order that was issued shortly after the publishing of the Declaration of Independence. Washington issued this order for the recitation of the nation-creating document in order to reinvigorate his troops for the cause for which they were fighting.21 As seen within his own General Orders, Washington understood that desertion was a major problem, and as such, used both carrot and stick to improve the morale amongst troops, thus preventing desertion. Clearly, the maintenance of morale was exceedingly important to Washington in order to maintain an effective and sizeable fighting force.

Despite the actions and encouragement described above, of all of the methods for increasing morale within reprehensible conditions, it was perhaps the singing of songs and playing of music that was the most effective. Short of removing the ills of poor weather, lack of clothing, and inadequate provisions, the primary tool many commanders use to raise morale is entertainment, which during this time was mainly through music. In this regard, Washington was no different.

18 General Orders, 3 October 1775.

19 General Orders, 3 October 1775.

20 Ibid.

21 Middlekauff, The Glorious Cause, 25.


Throughout the war — as in any time — songs, poems, and ballads were written for a variety of reasons. Songs to lovers, poems to families, and ballads of those lamenting the departed were dancing through the minds of every soldier. A number of songs in particular, however, had alternative political aims embedded within them. Careful reading of the lyrics of these songs along with an analysis of the authors and audience are essentially time capsules into the lives of those who engaged with them. This is true for all sides of the conflict, as popular grievances — as well as songs of mourning and encouragement — were aired through song by both Patriot and Loyalist alike. In other words, music is a personal and emotional artform, and as such, a very powerful tool to gauge the full range of emotions within those who were performing and listening to these songs. With this in mind, the lyrical analysis of songs during the Revolutionary War period suggests a clear and targeted message towards soldiers in order to encourage and inspire them.

Before discussing the songs themselves, however, it would be beneficial to maintain an understanding of the range of influence that these types of popular songs had during this time period. In the field of collecting samples of music from the Early Republic period, one excellent curator of such pieces was Isaiah Thomas, who compiled his collection in 1813. In Arthur Schrader’s article, “Broadside Ballads of Boston, 1813: The Isaiah Thomas Collection,” he attempts to summarize the findings within this collection and discover the influence that the songs had upon society at the time. In the article, Schrader is concerned primarily with three main goals. The first is finding the associated tunes that corresponded with the lyrics, as the songs in the collection appeared without any sheet music attached. The second is attempting to understand the context around the songs and determining “what they meant to the people who sang them.” The third goal is to gauge the level of popularity and influence that these songs had during the period.22 One such song that he discusses at great length is “The Death of General Wolfe,” which he describes as being written with common folk in mind, but was actually performed for the middle and upper classes. In an effort to gauge the influence of this song, he discovers that Thomas Paine added new verses to it and that the song was published by Dr. Benjamin Rush in the March 1775 edition of the Pennsylvania Magazine. Following the publishing of this song, Schrader found that the subscriptions “more than doubled from 600 to 1500,” showing the influence and popularity of this song at the time.23 Although the popularity of this song might not be wholly indicative of the popularity of the ones that are about to be mentioned, this at

22 Arthur Schrader, “Broadside Ballads of Boston, 1813: The Isaiah Thomas Collection,” Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society 98, no. 1 (April 1988): 71.

23 Schrader, “Broadside Ballads,” 107-8.

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the very least serves to bring some context especially to politically themed music during this time period.

The first song, mentioned within the introduction, was a ballad written in 1776 titled “Nathan Hale.” Hale was a Captain in the Continental Army who famously served as one of Washington’s spies. He secretly entered New York to gain information on British General Howe, and, having almost completed his objective, was spotted by his Loyalist cousin Samuel Hale.24 Knowing that his disguise had been ruined, he attempted an escape, but he was caught by a British guard. Following his capture, Samuel Hale testified against him, and Nathan Hale was sentenced to death by hanging.25 After he was hanged, he quickly became a renowned hero amongst the patriots, and his exploits were memorialized in the aforementioned ballad. Although the likelihood that he actually said this is in dispute, he is often attributed as making the famous statement as his last words: “my only regret is that I have but one life to give for my country.”26

Two specific things about this ballad remain unknown. The first is the name of the writer and the second is whether it was specifically written for or dedicated to someone. However, upon closer reading, the song leaves a number of clues that point to both its author and audience. The song begins with a gentle account of the setting of the night of Hale’s capture. It describes him hiding behind enemy lines within the brush and that he must stay still to evade capture, as “the tyrants are near.”27 It then specifically describes the actions that he took to avoid capture in the night as he began to launch his boat. This suggests that the author had knowledge of his exploits and of the stealth tactics that he would have used. In addition to this, the author depicts Hale as having moved after “the tattoo had beat.”28 The tattoo in this case would be the evening bugle or drum call, which would direct the soldiers to return to their quarters. This again suggests at least a limited knowledge of military movements and functions. By piecing those assertions together, it would be more than reasonable to believe that the author might have been someone who served in the Continental Army with Hale, perhaps as a peer or a subordinate.

The audience and purpose of this piece are much more straightforward to determine, as it is clear in its ideological message towards Patriots. The ballad uses adjectives such as “murderous” and “cruel” and nouns such as “tyrant” and “minion” to describe the British in an obvious attempt to display them as unenlightened, brutish individuals who cannot think for themselves.29 In describing the Loyalists in such an unflattering

24 Moore, Songs and Ballads, 134.

25 Ibid.

26 Kenneth Daigler. Spies, Patriots, and Traitors: American Intelligence in the Revolutionary War. Georgetown University Press, 2014: 107.

27 Moore, Songs and Ballads, 131.

28 Ibid.

29 Moore, Songs and Ballads, 131-132.


manner, it is apparent that his ballad was intended to serve not only as a memorial to Hale but to rouse the Patriots to the cause. More specifically, the nature of Hale as a war hero would appeal greatly as a recruiting tool, but also as a song which fellow soldiers would enjoy more, as they would be able to appreciate the woes and exploits of Hale. This ballad is an excellent lens into the minds of those very Patriots who were absolutely willing to die for their cause and who greatly cherished those who actually did. In an instance where this song would be sung, perhaps at a military camp, one could imagine the immense feelings of pride and kinship that the fellow soldiers would have for one another knowing that such men had walked before them.

Another song that was introduced and performed during the war, specifically for a soldier’s audience, was “General Sullivan’s Song.” This song was written and performed for the American General John Sullivan shortly after the battle of Trenton in 1777.30 Although the author of this song is not known either, much like the ballad “Nathan Hale,” certain characteristics of the author can be assumed from its subject matter. Clearly, by devoting a song to General Sullivan, whoever wrote it would have had either some level of affection for him or would be seeking his approval by displaying respect. This would imply that the author was someone under Sullivan’s command. The style of writing also suggests some level of learnedness. Therefore, it is likely that it would have been one of Sullivan’s aides or subordinate officers. This song was performed after the tremendous American victory at Trenton, in which General Sullivan was an instrumental part of completing the crossing of the Delaware River. Keeping this in mind, the song’s lyrics offer a triumphant and spirited message that would have capitalized on the renewed morale following that victory. One stanza in particular that highlights this fighting spirit reads as follows: “We, Americans, so brave, o’er the land or the waves, All invaders defy, we’ll repulse them or die, We scorn to live as slaves.”31 This is a classic appeal to the soldiers of the Continental Army to remind them of the reasons for why they are fighting. The song continues with this type of appeal as it refers to those who fought for freedom amongst previous generations of British subjects:

Recall the days, wherein our fathers bravely fought, And crown’d with praise, they patriot glory sought, Bid their high deeds inspire, Bid Magna Charta fire, Greatly they labor’d for our good All sorts of tyranny withstood, All these we despise, on our courage rely, For what American so base would his country disgrace

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30 Moore, Songs and Ballads, 165. 31 Moore, Songs and Ballads, 166.

And from his colors fly. 32

The reference to the Magna Carta tells us a number of things. The first of which is that the Magna Carta is widely regarded not only as the grandfather of America’s founding documents but also as a major historical turning point for the rights of the common man. By appealing to the audience through this aspect of it, the author is not-so-subtly proclaiming to General Sullivan and the others who are listening that the campaign for which they have embarked upon will do nothing short of change the world and, at the very least, will be remembered as a major historical event. This, in combination with the invoking of their forefathers, would have been a very powerful way to encourage the weary soldiers. It would essentially remind them that the shortterm sacrifice that they were then enduring is a small price to pay for an eternity of glory. The very lyrics of the song paint the picture of a determined soldier with grit who, like his fathers before him, is placing his life on the line for the promise of freedom. Again, specifically due to this song having been written in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Trenton, it not only provides a particularly useful lens into the mindsets of the soldiers at that time, but it also implies its use to capture that sense of elation and pride following the battle for future reminders when morale is once again low. The states of mind that can be implied from these songs are not just limited to the side of the Patriots, however. There are many other songs which describe dejected and angry individuals, especially those of loyalist Americans, who felt betrayed by their countrymen. Neil MacKinnon’s article entitled “Bitter Verse: Poetry, Verse and Song of The American Loyalists in Nova Scotia” is an excellent collection of songs which highlight just that. The article helps to shed light on the opposite end of the story, including a similar use of music for expressing feeling, especially on political topics. MacKinnon argues that revealed within these songs are a people who experienced “trauma, anger, bitterness and often denial of their fate.”33 The individuals who wrote these songs were all former American colonists loyal to the crown who moved to Nova Scotia following the war to remain under British dominion. Throughout his collection of eight songs, common themes appear, including ideas of resentment towards Americans, loss of home, and betrayal by the Crown. Although most of these songs were written upon their arrival in Nova Scotia, the raw feelings that the war left these individuals were still very much alive. As such, from those songs, one can determine very particular emotions that were felt during the war, even though these songs were written later. For example, one song, “New Year’s Eve Verse,” very clearly served as an attack “on the new nation and its citizens,” which suggests resentment towards not

32 Ibid.

33 Neil MacKinnon, “Bitter Verse: Poetry, Verse and Song of the American Loyalists in Nova Scotia,” Dalhousie Review 65, no. 1 (March 3, 1985): 111.


only the leaders of the revolution, but also towards the regular citizens who fought in it.34 Overall, this shows that song was being used as an outlet for expressing political grievances, which was not unique to the American side of the revolution. Although these songs described within this collection were not being used to improve morale, they do serve to highlight the idea that music was a popular vehicle for expressing strongly held views at this time.


In addition to the ample evidence from the songs themselves in their clear goal and usage to increase morale, there are also a number of historical anecdotes which help to further the idea that music had a sizable and noticeable effect on maintaining the morale of the troops. The frequent making of music that was pleasing to the ears was of the utmost importance for raising morale. Specifically during the winter quarters, Washington’s soldiers would use music, paired often with alcohol, to drown their sorrows as the bands would march through the various camps and towns in order to lift morale and to “give expression to shared emotions.”35 It is the emotional outlet that music is that makes it such a powerful tool to raise morale, especially amongst soldiers. Music performed by military musicians would function as a way to bring the disparate troops together under their communally shared hardships and to commiserate together and console each other along the way. Additionally, these military bands playing in rural towns throughout the country brought exposure to band repertoire for a new group of Americans when, previously, that kind of music was only available in bigger cities.36

Well-played music did not just raise morale when it was used recreationally, however. Military music, when played properly and with conviction, could serve just as well to invigorate and prepare the ranks for the battles that were about to ensue. One soldier encamped in Long Island described the call to arms as such; “instantly this vast body of men were at their respective posts. For one single hour my heart fluttered… horses straining every way… drums and fifes on all quarters making the very air echo To Arms! To Arms!”37 This feeling was likely very typical amongst soldiers during this time. There is a sense of awe and wonder when a call is effectively played and the movement of troops en masse begins with the utmost efficiency. It would undoubtedly serve as a way to instill pride in one’s unit and thus improve morale.

There were occasionally other types of events that provided additional opportunities for music to be used for the purpose of raising morale. One such example, this time for

34 MacKinnon, “Bitter Verse,” 115

35 Kenneth Silverman, A Cultural History of the American Revolution, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 357.

36 Silverman, A Cultural History of the American Revolution, 352.

37 Ibid.

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celebratory purposes, was again during winter quarters, on February 22, 1778. A small band was hired by Martha Washington to perform for her husband’s birthday. They played amongst the gentility, who themselves were just as downtrodden over the course that the war had taken.38 This indicates that the discomforts of the war as well as the uplifting abilities of song were not exclusive to the enlisted ranks. Soldiers of all ranks and classes were still soldiers, and as such, they shared much of the same experiences. Additionally, this birthday party for George Washington became the first of many of such celebrations, and to this day, Washington’s birthday is celebrated by Americans everywhere.39 Music was not only significant while under the deprived and freezing conditions of the Valley Forge winter quarters, but also throughout the duration of the war from Lexington to Yorktown. For every hut with a cold and scared soldier in Valley Forge, there was another in some other part of the country, and a number of those soldiers were writing verse to release their fears and anxieties onto paper and into song.40

There are also a number of examples of music being used for the opposite purpose, in order to depress morale, either intentionally or unintentionally. One remarkable example of this was early in the war, when a detachment of American soldiers was retreating through the woods from an intense engagement with British regulars. The Americans were already sorely outmatched, and as the British were pursuing them through the forest, their bugler stopped and played the traditional call for a “Fox Hunt,” being the customary leisure activity of British aristocracy. This act understandably destroyed the American detachment’s morale and thoroughly humiliated them, as they felt as helpless as a fox being pursued during a hunt.41 Alternatively, this creative use of music would have greatly increased the confidence of the pursuing regulars. There were also instances in which the performance of music unintentionally suppressed the morale of the soldiers. One of these was the performance of the “dead march,” which was played for deceased officers and select enlisted soldiers. It depressed the men of Nathaniel Greene’s southern army to such a degree that he banned the playing of it in order to preserve the morale of the sick and wounded men.42

In a different vein, it was perhaps the universal accessibility of music that made it such a widespread and well-liked social activity throughout the army.43 For one, every soldier had the ability to partake in the making of music, whether it be writing his own verse or joining with his comrades in song. Additionally, the large number of built-in fifers and drummers who were serving allowed for music to be plentiful. Even though

38 Thompson, “As If I Had Been a Very Great Somebody,” 141.

39 Ibid.

40 Silverman, A Cultural History of the American Revolution, 352.

41 Silverman, A Cultural History of the American Revolution, 352.

42 Ward, Enforcers, 170.

43 Silverman, A Cultural History of the American Revolution, 352.


the exact number of military musicians employed by the Continental Army during the American Revolution is unknown, there were undoubtedly a large number of them.44 To give an idea of the size of the music force, in a 1783 survey of New England regiments, there were over 376 musicians and drum and fife majors who were employed by the Continental Army.45 This does not even include the ceremonial bandsmen who would have been employed, let alone the number of musicians from the rest of the colonies. Additionally, there would have been a plethora of amateur musicians serving within the ranks, many of whom would have brought their own instruments to play with them while encamped. Finally, the hundreds, if not thousands, of papers that were written by soldiers with poems and verse on them further adds to the idea of the universality of music during this war.46 Of all the forms of cultural recreation which were engaged in during the war, ranging from theater to painting, music was the most common, due to its ability to be performed and enjoyed by all.


Music clearly had a calculable effect on the morale, disposition, and effectiveness of the Continental Army. The leaders of the army recognized this fact and were cognizant of the need to improve it because of their struggles at the beginning of the war, not only with maintaining morale, but with command and control. It was these early war conditions that provided the motivation for taking poorly disciplined and organized military musicians and turning them into consistent performers with standardized repertoire. Once that occurred, these bands were able to meet the “tactical, ceremonial, and social” needs of the Continental Army to a degree much improved from that of the war’s beginning.47

As discussed previously, at the onset of the war, the Continental Army was severely disorganized, underequipped, and underdeveloped, including musically. The Continental Army had very little in the way of formal training or doctrine, let alone expertise or experience. This did not only have implications for morale, but also for battle. The music provided by fifers and drummers was one of the primary methods for disseminating orders during the thick of combat. The incredibly loud roars of musket volleys, combined with the thick black smoke that they produced, made it immensely difficult for commanders to communicate orders effectively. As such, the clearly audible sound of the snare drum and the high-pitched pierce of the fife were able to rise above the sounds of combat, and thus were able to be heard. From that, fifers and drummers 44 Silverman, A Cultural History of the American Revolution, 353. 45 Silverman, A Cultural History of the American Revolution, 353. 46 Ibid.

47 Warren Howe, “Early American Military Music.” American Music 17, no. 1 (1999): 88.

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became an invaluable part of every standing army during this period.48 Because of these factors, not only was music from bands necessary for raising morale of the troops, but it was also just as important for directing troops during battle.49 Unfortunately for the Americans, the substandard state of military music, specifically the lack of standardization of fife tunes, likely contributed to the string of defeats suffered by the Continental Army during the early war period.50

It was not until the Prussian Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben became the Inspector General of the Continental Army, during winter quarters at Valley Forge, that a greater sense of importance was placed on military music by the army’s leaders.51 Von Steuben desired to turn the unprofessional citizen soldiers into a professional standing army, and one of the first steps to doing so was to rapidly improve its musical capabilities. This is again not only because the music of the military was crucial for command and control in a tactical environment, but also because it instilled great pride within the units and helped to improve morale. Following these developments, the proper performance of music was deemed so important that General Washington issued a General Order on this subject on June 4, 1777. Washington himself wrote this order, and within it he discussed the current state of the military music within his army and the actions that he would take in order to change it. The middle paragraph of the order, which pertains to music, states the following:

The music of the army being in general very bad; it is expected, that the drum and fife Majors exert themselves to improve it, or they will be reduced, and their extraordinary pay taken from them: Stated hours to be assigned, for all the drums and fifes, of each regiment, to attend them, and practice — Nothing is more agreeable, and ornamental, than good music; every officer, for the credit of his corps, should take care to provide it.52

Clearly, as is written in the order, Washington believed that his army’s music was “very bad,” and so he attempted to find ways to improve it. The use of the term “very bad” is incredibly blunt and straightforward, which, after a cursory look at some of his other orders, was somewhat unusual and expressed a strong sense of disapproval that required immediate action. In this aim, Washington decided to threaten pay cuts to any military musician who did not take the time to practice his craft and improve. To

48 Howe “Early American Military Music,” 87

49 Ibid.

50 Ibid

51 Howe “Early American Military Music,” 89.

52 General Orders, 4 June, 1777.


this day, for any soldier, the threat of reduction in pay is one of the most serious of all threats, short of corporal and capital punishment. Reduction in pay was often used to punish other more severe offenders such as deserters and thieves.53 Keeping that in mind, this is a clear attempt by Washington to amplify the gravity of this matter and prove its importance. Therefore, this section of the order specifically targeted the “drum and fife Majors” of his army.54 With that said, because it is a general order, these particular instructions were not just issued to only the musicians, but rather the whole Continental Army itself. This means that Washington intentionally decided to let the poor state of the army’s music be known to all, which could feasibly have been to induce the soldiers to compel their musician comrades to practice and improve in a form of peer pressure. At the end of the section of the order, Washington implores his officer cadre to take care to provide good music for the “credit of his corps.”55 This implies that he was then placing the responsibility not only on the individual musicians, but also on their superior officers. This appeal to his officers’ senses of pride in their units was made in order to ensure action on the matter through building a competitive spirit amongst units.

Despite this encouragement of action at the individual level, by the middle of the war, the situation of poor musicianship had remained mostly unchanged. Washington decided that because the bottom-up method of enacting change did not work, he would take a top-down approach instead. The primary method that Washington used to improve and standardize military music was to appoint a single individual who would be tasked with all music-related issues within the army. This individual would be selected in an August 1778 General Order, where Washington writes that he has appointed a “superintendent of music” for the Continental Army by name of John Hiwell.56 Hiwell, a “lieutenant and fife major of Col. John Crane’s 3d Continental Regiment,” then became Baron von Steuben’s “subordinate inspector” of music and was appointed in order to streamline its improvement by beginning the work of standardizing the music of the army.57

Throughout the rest of the war and immediately following it, Hiwell worked hard to improve the army’s military music. Hiwell then likely began to compile fife and drum tunes into the Drummer’s Book of Music. Although it is possible that this book was written after the war, it contains a great amount of Revolution-era repertoire, which makes it likely that it was not.58 Regardless, this book would have then been issued to

53 General Orders, 3 October 1775.

54 General Orders, 4 June, 1777.

55 Ibid.

56 General Orders, 19 August 1778.

57 Howe “Early American Military Music,” 89.

58 Howe “Early American Military Music,” 95.

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the rest of the army to establish uniformity across the units. After the war ended, he also requested a number of instruments to replace the dilapidated war-beaten ones that remained. He also requested staff-paper and music books in order to assist in the education of his subordinates, many of which were musically illiterate.59 Unfortunately for Hiwell, immediately after the war, the Continental Army was drastically reduced in size, and as such, his requests for musical equipment were mostly rejected. However, after Daniel Shay’s rebellion ended in 1787, The Continental Congress was convinced of the necessity to have a standing professional army; the emphasis on military music was renewed once more.60

Hiwell also believed that the performance of music was important for instances other than during combat. In one of Hiwell’s supply requests for appropriations, he asks for “two B clarinetti,” or two B-flat clarinets, which were instruments not played by combat musicians but rather by musicians who were members of “musick band[s].” These “musick bands” were small eight-piece bands for ceremony and morale, which a clarinet would have been a part of.61 This implies that Hiwell deemed “musick bands” to be important enough to receive congressional funds.62 The legacy of these “musick bands” can be felt today, as each branch of the United States armed forces has professional music groups which perform to the same end. Additionally, army fifers had books which not only contained tactical songs, but also songs and dances for recreational uses, such as “God Save the Congress” and “The Lass of Patie’s Mill.”63 This again highlights the dual purpose of these military musicians for communication as well as morale.

On another important note, besides the useful applications of music for ceremonial, tactical, and recreational purposes, it also served as a very effective means for recruitment of fresh troops, which were always sorely needed by the Continental Army. In one such example, a military musician writing to General Washington made the claim that one particular Virginia militia band “had more influence on the minds and motions of the militia… than would a Cicero; and in the recruiting business, they are at least as successful as a well-spoken recruiting [Sgt.].”64 These bands were not the typical regimental fifers and drummers, but rather the “bands of musick” as discussed earlier. This anecdote would have given yet another reason for Hiwell to promote the importance of these bands to Congress, as they clearly had a direct effect on winning over the hearts and minds of the Americans who were either indifferent towards or

59 Ibid.

60 Howe “Early American Military Music,” 102.

61 Howe “Early American Military Music,” 90.

62 Howe “Early American Military Music,” 95.

63 Silverman, A Cultural History of the American Revolution, 354.

64 Silverman, A Cultural History of the American Revolution, 356.


uninspired to join the conflict. This again highlights one of the many uses of music, whether it be for recruiting new soldiers, for issuing orders in combat, or for musical entertainment of the troops.


Perhaps it is no coincidence that as the music of the Continental Army gradually improved, so did the victories. Washington’s emphasis on maintaining the size of his army and fighting and winning the battle of attrition paid off well. Even though his army dropped to as low as 3,000 during March of 1777, it continued to grow as victories became more frequent and as the weather improved.65 The enjoyment of song made the otherwise unbearable conditions a little bit better, and the Continental Army survived that winter and the even harder ones that followed in Valley Forge and Morristown. As the musicians of the army improved over time, their ability to enact battlefield orders likely improved as well. Baron von Steuben’s effort to professionalize the army had for the most part succeeded, partially thanks to the newfound emphasis on the role of fifers and drummers.

As the military fortunes of the Continental Army grew greater year after year, so did their size. The Americans finally had a substantial victory in Saratoga, and despite numerous setbacks, the victories generally continued to increase. As a result of these victories, the high likelihood of the French joining the war, and a number of other increasingly aggressive actions by the British, colonists steadily continued to join the Continental Army. As the British public began to turn on the war and the war seemingly began to wind down, the Americans had their culminating victory at Yorktown, thanks to the help of the newly arrived French fleet. A fitting close to this engagement occurred when the French bands who were playing during the official surrender responded to a slight by the British regulars. The regulars had turned their heads away from the Americans and towards the French while marching forward in an act of disrespect, to which the French band responded in kind by playing “Yankee Doodle.” As such, the regulars were recorded as having thrown down their muskets in anger and embarrassment.66


The date is June 19 1778, and the Continental Army’s encampment at Valley Forge had just been struck. Washington’s army moved to regain the initiative in the war and to

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65 Middlekauff, The Glorious Cause, 45. 66 Silverman, A Cultural History of the American Revolution, 410.

test their newly reorganized and retrained troops. The soldiers had just made it through unimaginable hardship, thanks in part to the calming and commiserative effects that playing music with their comrades had had. They also felt more pride in their units, as they heard their fifers and drummers practice frequently in order to improve their craft and to make their calls all the more impressive. The soldiers marched on with a renewed sense of optimism and with the idea that their struggles were for a noble cause. In short, music and song served, if only temporarily, as an effective means to soothe their suffering and to renew their spirits for the long road ahead.

Although there are no known accounts of a particular soldier foregoing his decision to desert based off the performing of or listening to a particular patriotic tune, the impact that music had on the morale of the army was undeniable. The Continental Army survived great amounts of desertion and fought through low morale caused by defeat, poor weather, and a lack of provisions. They did this by engaging the services of musicians, professional and amateur alike, who sought to alleviate the stresses that these men faced daily. If there were no music to fulfill that role, the Continental Army could have easily been dissolved as there simply were not enough men to fill its ranks. By actively seeking to improve morale, which music played a major part of, the war of attrition was slowly won. Additionally, the specific emphasis and training given to the fifers and drummers led to a better performance of military duties and easier issuing of orders. That alone would be enough to determine the impact that music had in securing the victory of the United States of America. Even if music cannot definitively be pointed to as the specific reason for the eventual victory of the Continental Army, it was most certainly known by army senior leadership that music was a critical aspect to their success. By emphasizing music as a tool for improving morale, retention, recruitment, and for increasing tactical efficiency, the Continental Army was ultimately able to triumph in their struggle for freedom.



34% of Mason undergraduates are the first in their family to earn a 4-year degree.

6% of Mason Students are attending on the GI Bill.


Major: English

Concentration: Writing/Rhetoric

Minor: Sport Management

Class of 2023


Sports are an important part of society for a variety of reasons. According to Wankel and Berger (2018), participation in sport has many social benefits. Through sport, people build social connections and stay active, which altogether leads to better mental health. Many people fall in love with their sport and begin to dedicate countless amounts of time to it in order to develop skills that will allow them to perform better when they play. These people, once considered people who played sports, are now considered ‘athletes.’ The jump from casual athlete to full-time athlete can happen at any time, but is often seen taking place in the teenage years of someone’s life.

The relationship between an athlete and their sport is often referred to as ‘athletic identity.’ According to Menke and Germany (2018), “Athletic identity is the degree to which an athlete identifies with the athlete role. Athletic identity can be a social construct, conferred on the individual by family, peers, teammates, and coaches. An individual often constructs the self by emphasizing those aspects of identity that are positively regarded and enforced with other aspects of identity becoming less significant and less connected to the self.” When other aspects of the self become less significant to that of sport, it makes for the passionate pursuit of athletic success. This strive for greatness is a good thing, as it develops a sense of self-worth and motivation. However, there are instances where the pursuit of sport cannot be maintained due to the loss of sport.

While research on the mental health effects that loss of sport has on athletes is fairly extensive (Giannone et al., 2017; Taylor, 2006), there seems to be a lack of true findings to help mitigate the mental stressors that come with loss of sport (Putikian, 2016; Yang et al. 2014). Despite the amount of studies that have been conducted, there is still a need for further research regarding the mental health issues that are presented with loss


of sport. The purpose of this article is to review the literature related to the loss of sport in student-athletes and its relationship with athletic identity.

The main research question guiding the review of the literature on this topic was “Given the role that sport plays in a student-athletes identity, how can coaches help athletes who are struggling with the loss of sport due to the COVID-19 pandemic?”


A search for scholarly, peer-reviewed articles was conducted on the following online databases: Google Scholar, PsycInfo, and PsycArticles. The searches were conducted with the following terms: (identity OR self-view) AND (depression OR anxiety OR suicide OR mental illness) AND (athletes OR young adults OR teenagers OR studentathletes) AND (injury OR retirement OR loss OR termination) And (sports OR athletics). No search limiters were used. While many articles were presented by the databases searched, ten articles discussed the scope of this project and were reviewed. While there are most definitely more sources available, the articles used will allow me to effectively write a review of the literature on this topic.


Through my search for scholarly information, I have found a few examples of loss of sport that have been well-researched. The following sections will explain the findings of this research to better understand the relationship between athletic identity and loss of sport. They will also provide an understanding of the research on these forms of sport loss, and their similarities to the sport loss of the pandemic.


Results from two sources in this review found that the loss of sport through retirement puts athletes at risk of some forms of psychological trauma. According to Giannone et al. (2017), those who have a stronger sense of athletic identity have a harder time coping with the loss of sport. “Athletic identity, the degree to which one identifies with the athletic role, has been proposed as a critical determinant of adaptation to sport retirement” (Giannone et al., 2017). Athletes who identify themselves heavily with their sport may be subject to more psychological issues when the participation in sport is taken away. This is often seen in the transition from collegiate athletics as the majority of those athletes have constructed their identity around their sport involvement (Menke and Germany, 2018).

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A study by Giannone et al. (2017) measured the levels of athletic identity among a group of individual athletes who had just retired from their sport. Also measured were the levels of anxiety and depression the athletes experienced in the months following their retirement. “Results from this study provide evidence that athletic identity — as endorsed during athletes’ sport career — is associated with the emergence of anxiety symptoms in the months following retirement from sport”(Giannone et al., 2017). This study suggests that the higher levels of athletic identity an athlete has, the more at risk they are for psychological trauma as a result of retirement.

The spontaneity of sport retirement is a catalyst for psychological trauma such as stress, anxiety, and depression. Alfermann et al. (2003) conducted a study in which athletes were measured for their levels of athletic identity, and then were measured for their general mental preparedness for the loss of sport. Athletes who were prepared for their sport career termination had significantly better results. “This study suggests that athletes who plan retirement in advance have higher cognitive, emotional, and behavioural readiness to the last sport career transition than athletes who do not plan their retirement” (Alfermann et al., 2003). When retirement from sport is planned rather than forced by other influences, the psychological approach is much more controlled, leading to less psychological problems. In agreement with this, Menke and Germany (2018), state that many college athletic careers end due to collegiate athletic eligibility running out. Oftentimes there is not much planning for when this occurs. The spontaneity of this situation is often difficult for athletes to comprehend. Feelings of sadness, loneliness, and emptiness are experienced as a response to such a large aspect of their livelihood being lost.


Results from four sources in this review found that the loss of sport through injury puts athletes at risk of psychological trauma such as stress, anxiety, and depression (Putukian, 2016; Yang et al., 2014; Mitchell et al., 2014; Wiese-Bjornstal, 2010). Yang (2014) found that 40 to 50 percent of collegiate athletes experience an injury that prohibits them from playing their sport for at least one day in their college athletic careers. While the physical disturbance is one aspect of the injury, the psychological disturbances are another. They can even be more important than the injury itself. “These injuries often cause psychological disturbances among injured athletes, including depression and anxiety, which in turn play a role in their injury recovery” (Yang, 2014).

It is important to recognize what the post-injury responses are for athletes. Postinjury response in athletes includes struggle with stress, coping, adjustment, and the mental and physical aspects of returning to sport (Wiese-Bjornstal, 2010). In


agreement with this notion, Putukian (2016) identified a hierarchy of problematic emotional responses to injury. Persistent symptoms seen could be appetite alterations and irritability. Worsening symptoms include sadness that may lead to depression, appetite alterations that lead to eating disorders, and lack of motivation. Excessive symptoms are substance abuse and excessive anger/rage.

As seen in the hierarchy, cognitive responses to injury can be “perceptions and emotions associated with stress, such as depression and anger” (Wiese-Bjornstal, 2010). Our understanding of these responses is enhanced by the notion that the spontaneity of sport injury is a catalyst for psychological trauma, and that the loss of athletic identity is tightly wound with that. Loss of athletic identity often leads to loss of confidence, fear of re-injury, and other feelings associated with doubt (Mitchell, 2014).


There are two main findings or themes associated with the athletic identity and loss of sport. These findings are the most plausible and effective ways to reduce levels of psychological trauma in athletes dealing with loss of sport. They will be discussed in further detail to understand how they are presented by the sources.


There are many benefits to having good social support around athletes coping with loss of sport (Putukian, 2016; Yang et al., 2014; Menke & Germany, 2018; Graupensperger et al., 2020; Giannone et al., 2017; Wiese-Bjornstal, 2010). Social support has been seen as the most critical aspect of this coping process (Mitchell et al. 2014). In a study that explored the relationship between social support and symptoms of anxiety and depression in athletes, Yang (2014) concluded that athletes who are satisfied or very satisfied with their social support during injury are 70-87% less likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety at return to play. To enhance the understanding of these impacts more, a study by Mitchell (2014) examined the main effect of stressors and perceived available support. It was found that when the perception of available social support is low, stressors become associated with higher levels of psychological trauma such as stress, anxiety, and depression. Inversely, when the levels of perceived social support are high, levels of psychological distress are much lower.

It is important to recognize that most of the time, athletes will not seek help willingly. High-level athletes are often conditioned to play through pain and struggles. This mentality leads them to resent seeking help, as to them revealing symptoms is a sign of weakness. Along with this, many athletes have not developed healthy coping

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mechanisms, as their response to pain, loss, or defeat is to push harder and fight back. (Putukian, 2016). This is why it is so important for coaches and athletic trainers to take initiative by supporting their athletes and offering them the resources that they need. “It is important for coaches, athletic trainers and team physicians to provide support for injured athletes and keep athletes involved and part of the team. This might include keeping athletes engaged and encouraging athletes to seek help instead of ‘tough it out’. For coaches, one of the most powerful actions is to ‘give the athlete permission’ and encourage them to seek care,” (Putukian, 2016). In a study that measured athlete’s connectedness and social support during the COVID-19 pandemic, Graupensperger et al (2020) found evidence that teammate social interactions have protective effects on the mental health and well-being of athletes. By enhancing the perception of social support, coaching staffs have the power to protect athletes from versions of psychological trauma.


Educating and preparing people for possible situations is essential to their development of healthy coping mechanisms (Taylor and Stanton, 2006). Athletes who lose their sport are at risk of several concerning psychological responses such as stress, depression, and anxiety. In a study that examines the transition out of sport for former college athletes, Menke and Germany (2018) suggest that college athletes will benefit from coping skills. Struggles with the transition out of sport deal heavily with the emotional response to what feels like a hole in the athletic identity that has been established for so long. In an article that reviews the psychological responses to injury, Putukian (2016), ranks the education and awareness of mental health issues and/or services as the most impactful facilitator for psychological trauma related to an athlete’s loss of sport.

In agreement with this, a study that examines the transition out of sport for former college athletes by Menke and Germany (2018), found that there are many benefits to the preparedness for the end of sport. The more prepared athletes are for activities following their athletic career, such as career opportunities outside of sport, the better off they will be when their athletic career comes to an end. Discussions about the career termination along with collaboration with counselors and sport psychologists, will help encourage the development of the whole student-athlete (Menke and Germany, 2018).


The review above has identified and examined different types of loss of sport. By analyzing the loss of sport through injury and retirement, the review has provided a better understanding of the literature of sport loss. The sport loss literature examined in this review


also develops a better understanding of the loss of sport through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the scholarly works examined, eight articles (Putukian, 2016; Yang et al., 2014; Mitchell et al., 2014; Wiese-Bjornstal, 2010; Menke and Germany, 2018; Giannone et al., 2017; Alfermann et al., 2003; Graupensperger et al., 2020) analyzed the psychological effects of loss of sport. They concluded that loss of sport has a direct relationship with psychological trauma in athletes such as depression, stress, and anxiety.

Four of these articles analyzed the relationship between these psychological effects and athletic identity (Menke and Germany, 2018; Giannone et al., 2017; Alfermann et al, 2003; Graupensperger et al., 2020). They concluded that the more an athlete identifies themselves with their sport, the more at risk they are for experiencing psychological trauma if they lose their sport.

The two main themes of the literature were associated with the mitigation of psychological trauma from loss of sport. Six articles (Putukian, 2016; Yang et al., 2014; Menke & Germany, 2018; Graupensperger et al. 2020; Giannone et al., 2017; WieseBjornstal, 2010), analyzed the relationship between social support and psychological trauma. They concluded that the perception of social support has a direct effect on the risk of negative psychological responses. Three articles (Alfermann et al., 2003; Putukian, 2016; Menke & Germany, 2018), analyzed the education and preparation for sport termination. They concluded that preparing athletes for the loss of sport reduces their risk of negative psychological responses.

Literature on the loss of sport through the COVID-19 pandemic was quite scarce. However, the way in which sport is lost through retirement and injury is strikingly similar to that of the pandemic. The research of other examples of sport loss help us further understand the effects of the pandemic. Future research on this topic should narrow the focus to strictly loss of sport by pandemic. This way, a more specific understanding of the psychological responses to loss of sport will be developed.


The purpose of this article was to review the literature related to the role that sport plays in a student athlete’s identity, and the potential ways that a coaching staff can help athletes who are struggling switch their loss of sport due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, two convergent findings were found in an attempt to answer the research question. The findings presented in this article can be used to support athletes who heavily link their sport to their identity. For example, coaches and staff can enhance the sense of social support in their athletes by providing avenues for communication, such as counselors and sport psychologists. Lastly, coaches and staff can educate athletes about the potential of loss of sport, so that athletes can feel prepared before something occurs.

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Major: Neuroscience

Class of 2023


Enzymes are proteins that act as catalysts, accelerating the rate of a reaction by binding small molecules, called substrates, to their active site.1 Amylase is an enzyme that hydrolyzes, or breaks down, the substrate starch into the disaccharide maltose.2 Amylase is important to many organisms; for example, amylase helps the maturation of germinating seeds, since their embryos require a great deal of energy for growth and development.2 Additionally, porcine pancreatic amylase, the amylase selected for this experiment, plays a vital role in the digestion of feed in pigs; it breaks down starch with the addition of water into maltose, which is further broken down in order to become usable energy. Amylase was the first enzyme to be discovered in 1833 by French chemist Anselme Payen.3 In recent years, amylase has held an important role in the production of ethanol — to break starches in grains into fermentable sugar, producing shorter chains of oligosaccharides for various use.3

In order to thrive, enzymes must maintain specific environmental conditions, such as enzyme concentration, temperature, and pH. An enzyme at optimal environmental conditions will maximize the rate of its enzymatic reaction. The higher the enzyme concentration, the faster the rate of the reaction and vice versa. If the temperature is too hot, then the enzyme will denature. Colder temperatures reduce kinetic energy and slow the rate of the reaction.2 A much higher or lower pH both result in the

1 Hillis DM, Heller HC, Hacker SD, Hall DW Laskowski MJ, Sadava D. Life: The Science of Biology. 12th ed. W.H. Freeman 2 George Mason University. Introductory Cell Biology Lab Manual 2nd Edition. 2nd ed. Bluedoor, LLC 3³ Gurung N, Ray S, Bose S, Rai V. A broader view: microbial enzymes and their relevance in industries, medicine, and beyond. Biomed Res Int. 2013;2013:329121.

denaturation of the enzyme. An enzyme that is denatured loses its specific threedimensional shape and structure, resulting in a loss of function and decline in enzyme activity. Since the amylase in this experiment was sourced from porcine pancreatic tissue, we therefore hypothesized the optimal environmental conditions for the amylase to have an undiluted concentration, a temperature of 102℉, and a pH of 7.5, based on the average internal body temperature of a pig and the alkaline bile produced by the pancreas as well as the large amounts of bicarbonate present in pancreatic juice.4 The purpose of this experiment was to understand how enzyme concentration influences the production of product and to understand the influence of temperature and pH on enzyme activity.


The experiment measured how the rate of an enzymatic reaction would be affected by manipulating the following variables: enzyme concentration, pH, and temperature. In these three subsections of the experiment, the protocol for the kinetic that measured the starch depletion was the same: after the enzyme was combined to react with starch, 2mL of the reaction mixture was removed, added to a test tube containing 3 drops of reagent, mixed via vortex mixer, transferred to a cuvette, and put into the spectrophotometer to record the absorbance of starch. This process was repeated every 30 seconds for 6 minutes total for each subsection. The only exceptions are subsections 2 and 3, which only recorded the absorbance in 1-minute intervals for a total of 7 minutes. Additionally, it is important to note that the spectrophotometer was set to a constant wavelength of 540 nm and the reagent used was kept constant as Lugol’s iodine.

In the first section, 3 Erlenmeyer flasks were prepared with 10mL solutions of undiluted enzyme, 1:3 dilution, and 1:9 dilution. In each flask, 20mL of starch was added to cause a reaction and the protocol for the kinetic was followed. This process was repeated for each of the 3 flasks. Additionally, the spectrophotometer was zeroed for each flask by using a cuvette of 1mL of the respective enzyme solution, 1mL of water, and 3 drops of Lugol’s iodine.

In the second section, 4 Erlenmeyer flasks were prepared to have pH’s of 4, 5, 6, and 7 and contain 2mL of starch solution. In each flask, 1mL of enzyme solution was added to cause a reaction and the protocol for the kinetic was followed. This process was repeated for each of the 4 flasks. Additionally, the spectrophotometer was zeroed for all 4 flasks by using 2mL water and 3 drops of Lugol’s iodine.

4 Melamed P, Melamed F. Chronic metabolic acidosis destroys pancreas. JOP. 2014;15(6):552-560.

In the third and final section, the following temperatures were evaluated: 4°C, 22°C, 37°C, and 95°C. 4 Erlenmeyer flasks were prepared by adding 22mL of water and 2mL of starch solution. Additionally, 1mL of enzyme solution of a constant concentration was added to 4 test tubes. Each of the 4 flasks was heated and/or chilled with one of the 4 test tubes to its respective temperature. In each flask, 1mL of enzyme solution was added to cause a reaction and the protocol for the kinetic was followed. This process was repeated for each of the 4 flasks. The spectrophotometer was zeroed for all 4 flasks by using 2mL water and 3 drops of Lugol’s iodine.


In general, the trendlines of the absorbance graphs (Figures 1,3,5) are identical to the trendlines of their corresponding percent amylose graphs (Figures 2,4,6). This means that as the absorbance of starch from the spectrophotometer decreases over time, the percent amylose in the solution decreases over time as well. The decrease in the absorbance of starch and percent amylose from the spectrophotometer over time is due to the enzyme using up the starch during the reaction. Amylose is one of two main molecules that starch is composed of, making up 20% of starch. At first, there is a high percent amylose, as the reaction is just starting, and the starch is beginning to be consumed. However, as the reaction goes on, there is little starch remaining, leading to a decrease in percent amylose. It is important to note that the percent amylose in Tables 1-3 was calculated based on an amylose standard curve that was given.

TABLE 1: The Absorbances and Percentages of Amylose at Various Enzyme Concentrations

The graph illustrates the absorbance of starch for the undiluted enzyme, 1:3 enzyme dilution, and 1:9 enzyme dilution. As time went on, the absorbance of starch read from the spectrophotometer decreased, with the undiluted enzyme showing the most prominent decrease.

The graph illustrates the percent amylose of the undiluted enzyme, the 1:3 enzyme dilution, and 1:9 enzyme dilution after starch was added. As time went on, the percent amylose calculated from the standard curve decreased, with the most prominent decrease shown from the undiluted enzyme.

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FIGURE 1: The Effect of Concentration of an Enzyme on the Rate of Reaction Based on Absorbance FIGURE 2: The Effect of Concentration of an Enzyme on the Rate of Reaction Based on Percent Amylose


The graph illustrates the absorbance of starch for the enzyme at pH 4, pH 5, pH 6, and pH 7 after starch was added. As time went on, the absorbance read from the spectrophotometer tended to decrease, with the most prominent decrease at pH 7.

2: The Absorbances and Percentages of Amylose at Various Enzyme pH’s FIGURE 3: The Effect of pH on the Rate of Reaction Based on Absorbance

FIGURE 4: The Effect of pH on the Rate of Reaction Based on Percent Amylose

The graph illustrates the percent amylose of the enzyme at pH 4, pH 5, pH 6, and pH 7 after starch was added. As time went on, the percent amylose calculated from the standard curve tended to decrease, with the most linear decrease at pH 7.

TABLE 3: The Absorbances and Percentages of Amylose at Various Temperatures

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FIGURE 5: The Effect of Temperature on the Rate of Reaction Based on Absorbance

The graph illustrates the absorbance of starch for the enzyme at various temperatures after starch was added. As time went on, the absorbance read from the spectrophotometer decreased, with 22°C having the most prominent decrease.

FIGURE 6: The Effect of Temperature on the Rate of Reaction Based on Percent Amylose

The graph illustrates the percent amylose of the enzyme at various temperatures after starch was added. As time goes on, the percent amylose of the solutions decreases, with 22°C having the most prominent decrease.


The purpose of this experiment was to understand how enzyme concentration influences the production of product and to understand the influence of temperature and pH on enzyme activity. The enzyme used in this experiment was amylase from porcine pancreatic tissue. The experiment was carried out by adding starch solution to the amylase at varying concentrations, temperatures, and pH’s and measuring the absorbance of starch by a spectrophotometer. The anticipated outcome for the optimal environmental conditions of amylase was an undiluted concentration, a temperature of 102℉, and a pH of 7.5, based on the average internal body temperature of a pig and the alkaline bile produced by the pancreas as well as the large amounts of bicarbonate present in pancreatic juice.4

The data supported the undiluted concentration to be the most effective concentration at maximizing enzyme activity based on the drastic decrease in percent amylose (0.0241 to 0.0071) and starch absorbance (1.51 to 0.44) relative to the other concentrations in Table 1. The hypothetical optimal pH of 7.5 was slightly inaccurate since the data supported a pH of 7 to be the most effective at maximizing enzyme activity. This is based off pH 7 showing the greatest decrease in percent amylose (0.0066 to 0.0033) and starch absorbance (0.41 to 0.01) relative to the other pH’s in Table 2. The data did not support the hypothetical optimal temperature to be 102℉ (38.9°C), as 22°C illustrated the most prominent decrease in percent amylose (0.0077 to 0.0011) and starch absorbance (0.48 to 0.06) relative to the other temperatures in Table 3.

Further study is required in order to determine why the optimal temperature of the amylase was determined to be 22°C instead of 102℉ (38.9°C). It is possible that error may have occurred since Table 3 was based off data that was provided instead of personally gathered in the experiment. Additionally, another study that used amylase from porcine pancreatic tissue found the optimal temperature for enzyme activity to be 50°C.5 This signals that discrepancy when determining the optimal temperature of an enzyme may be more common that previously thought. Further study is required in enzymes, porcine pancreatic amylase, and the environment of the pancreas itself. The results found in this experiment could give more insight into human digestion as well as provide guidelines for improving the efficiency of industrial ethanol production.

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55 Lv-hui S, Tao Q, Yan L, Hua Z, Xinjie X, Xingen L. Cloning, expression, and characterization of a porcine pancreatic α-amylase in Pichia pastoris. Animal Nutrition. 2018;4(2):234-240.


Major: Dance

Minor: Early Childhood Education

Class of 2023

In December 2019, an Instagram post by Misty Copeland, the first African American principal dancer with American Ballet Theater, sparked a global debate on the use of blackface in classical ballet performance. In the post, Copeland shared a photo of two Bolshoi ballet dancers with brown-painted skin, exaggerated red lips, and eyes circled in white to appear “Indian” for their role as “servants of the Golden Idol” in the ballet La Bayadere. Copeland expressed her distress at this disturbing image and called for change in the ballet world. She wrote, “Until we can call people out and make people uncomfortable, change can’t happen” (Alex, 2019, p.1). However, Copeland’s message was not met with universal support. In fact, many Russians supported the Bolshoi’s costume choice and seemed appalled that the use of blackface would be considered racist.

This post was widely shared among Copeland’s 1.8 million Instagram followers and opened up a discussion on the use of blackface in classical ballet in the global dance community. This online debate highlighted a geographic divide in public opinion on the use of blackface. While most North Americans feel that blackface is an offensive and dated practice that perpetuates negative stereotypes against people of color, many Europeans, specifically Russians, do not hold the same views. This paper will explore why the use of blackface in classical ballet in the United States has become nearly obsolete in the 21st century, while in Russia it remains commonplace. This research will deconstruct the Russian defense of their continued use of blackface and address the question of whether the continued use of blackface in Russian ballet should be considered racist.

Some of the most popular ballets with roles traditionally performed in blackface include La Bayadere, Schéhérazade, and Petrouchka. La Bayadere is a four-act ballet choreographed by Marius Petipa with music by Léon Minkus. Inspired by a Sanskrit drama, this ballet tells the story of a fateful love between a temple dancer and wealthy


warrior who is betrothed to another woman (Cohen, 2005). La Bayadere takes place in India; however, in “A ‘La Bayadère’ for the 21st Century: How Companies are Confronting the Ballet’s Orientalist Stereotypes,” Joseph Carman describes how “[t]he ballet’s confusing Eastern pseudo-religiosity mashes up Hindu temples with Persian harem pants and a gold Buddhist idol” (2020). Carman further describes how this inauthentic mixing and matching of Eastern cultures was characteristic of the orientalism that was seen as fashionable at the time of the ballet’s creation in the 1870s. La Bayadere traditionally features “child servants” and “temple dancers” who perform in blackface to appear “Indian.”

Schéhérazade is a one-act ballet choreographed by Michel Fokine in 1910. The ballet is viewed as “the epitome of Serge Diaghilev’s Orientalism” and features a plot about “harem wives and black slaves indulging in an orgy,” at the end of which all of the wives and slaves are slaughtered (Cohen, 2005). The principal character in Schéhérazade, often referred to as the “Golden Slave,” is traditionally performed in blackface. At the time that he choreographed Schéhérazade, Fokine had not done any formal study of authentic Eastern dance. Thus, the ballet features a “pseudo-Oriental” style that allowed it to garner immense popularity in Europe in the early 20th century (Cohen, 2005). Schéhérazade has since gone out of style and has not been performed outside of Russia since 1995. Despite the ballet’s lack of modern performances, Hanna Jarvinen describes the profound legacy of Schéhérazade on the ballet world in “Ballet Russes and Blackface.” Jarvinen writes, “even if Schéhérazade was not still present on ballet stages, its status as a masterpiece gives it currency in the dance discourse” (2020, p.78).

Petrouchka, another Michel Fokine ballet created for Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes, also features a prominent character that is traditionally performed in blackface. The oneact ballet, to the music of Igor Stravinsky, tells the story of romantic tensions between three puppets: Petrouchka, the Moor, and the Ballerina. The role of “the Moor” is traditionally performed in blackface, with choreography that portrays the character in a dangerously stereotypical way. In “It’s Time to Overhaul the Blackface (or Blueface) Puppet in Petrouchka,” Perron describes how “In Petrouchka, the Moor is not only mean and aggressive, but prodigiously stupid. He worships a coconut when he can›t crack it open with his sword” (2020). Ja rvinen further describes how the choreographies of Schéhérazade and Petrouchka, in combination with the blackface makeup, perpetuate negative stereotypes of people of color. Ja rvinen writes, “If the Golden Slave is the threat of the oversexualized black man who has to be killed at the end of the work because he has sullied the white woman, the Blackamoor is the threat of the killer, the primitive Other, the rebellious slave who would not remain content with his lot” (2020, p. 81). These stereotypes — “the oversexualized black man,” “the killer,” “the primitive other,” and “the rebellious slave” — have haunted people of color for centuries and are

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being reinforced in these ballets that are traditionally performed in blackface.

Though Petrouchka and La Bayadere are still performed in the United States, the use of blackface in these ballets has become practically obsolete. In the United States, blackface is predominantly viewed as an offensive depiction of people of color, tied to the history of U.S. minstrelsy. In antebellum America, blackface minstrelsy was a cultural phenomenon in which predominantly white performers would darken their skin with burnt cork and perform music, dance, and comedic acts that reinforced negative stereotypes against African Americans. Douglas Jones describes antebellum minstrelsy as a display of “claptrap humor, vacuous Black dramatis personae, and pro-plantation ideology” (Jones, 2021, p. 31). After the Civil War, Black performers began to perform in minstrel shows as well but would often still perform in blackface to conceal their racial identity. Blackface minstrel shows mocked the Black experience for the entertainment of white Americans and reinforced the ideology of white supremacy by portraying African Americans through negative stereotypes.

The use of blackface makeup in the United States is deeply entangled in the troubling history of minstrelsy. However, even after the decline of minstrel shows, blackface continued to be used to promote negative racial stereotypes in popular culture. Michael Rogin describes how major Hollywood films and popular musicals continued to feature blackface and pro-plantation ideology through the 1940s. African American participation in World War II and the subsequent Civil Rights movement began to turn public opinion in the United States against blackface. Rogin describes how “The modern Civil Rights movement, of black militance and mass protests, was born during World War II. Since it was African-American self-representation that blackface nostalgia sought to escape, blackface came under growing criticism during and after the war” (1994, p. 9). Since World War II and the subsequent Civil Rights movement, public opinion has continued to turn against blackface in the U.S. as its ties to minstrelsy and negative racial representation have become common knowledge.

Ballets popular in the 19th and early 20th century that featured blackface are largely either no longer performed in the U.S. or have been modified to be more racially sensitive. Carman (2020) describes how the Pennsylvania Ballet has removed the blackface makeup and made modifications to the choreography of Petipa’s La Bayadere to remove some of the blatant and inaccurate orientalism. To do so, Pennsylvania Ballet’s artistic director, Angel Corella, “asked dance anthropologist and Swarthmore College professor Pallabi Chakravorty to assist in contextualizing  La Bayadere from an Indian perspective” (Corella, 2020). Chakravoty assisted Corella in infusing authentic Islamic and Hindu greeting and worship gestures into Petipa’s original choreography. Perron (2020) describes how American ballet companies have attempted to alter the Moor character in Petrouchka to be less offensive. While some companies have replaced the


blackface with blue face paint, Michel Fokine’s granddaughter, Isabelle Fokine, states, “I would propose to replace [the Moor] with a ‘Warrior,’ based in appearance on a Cossack doll my father had. That way he could be fierce and lustful, associated with what he does, rather than a particular ethnic group” (Perron, 2020). While many critics feel that these modifications are insufficient and American ballet companies should no longer perform these racially insensitive ballets, Russian ballet companies continue to perform these ballets with original choreography and costuming, including blackface makeup.

After Copeland’s Instagram post, director of the Bolshoi ballet, Vladimir Urin, Bolshoi spokeswoman, Katerina Novikova, and a number of Russian ballet dancers spoke out in defense of the Bolshoi’s use of blackface. Their defense of blackface in classical ballet appears to be threefold. First, advocates of blackface in Russian classical ballet claim that performing ballets such as La Bayadere with original costuming and choreography is simply preserving the traditional costuming of the original production. In response to Copeland’s criticism, Urin stated that the Bolshoi has “performed this production thousands of times in Russia and abroad” with dancers in blackface (“Russia’s Bolshoi rejects US dancer’s ‘blackface’ criticism” 2019, p.1). Urin insinuates that in order to preserve the historical authenticity of classical ballet, productions like La Bayadere should continue to be performed exactly as they were in the original production, with the inclusion of blackface makeup. The Bolshoi’s second justification for the use of blackface in classical ballet is that there are not sufficient non-white ballet dancers in Russia to portray the roles authentically. “Russia’s Bolshoi rejects US dancer’s ‘blackface’ criticism” describes how “[s]ome of Russia’s ballet dancers and experts defended the Bolshoi production of “La Bayadere”, noting that the country simply does not have black ballet dancers” (2019, p.1). This argument suggests that in the absence of dancers of color, blackface must be used to maintain the illusion of exoticism. The Bolshoi’s final defense is that blackface in Russian ballet is not racist because it does not carry the same historical associations as blackface in the U.S. While in the U.S. blackface is considered racist because it is associated with minstrelsy and negative racial stereotypes, in Russia it supposedly is considered commonplace because it lacks these associations. When discussing the Boshoi’s use of blackface, principal dancer Svetlana Zakharova stated, “[t]here is nothing strange here, for us this is absolutely normal,” and, “This is theatre. This is performance. So I probably would not see any suggestion of racism here” (“Russia’s Bolshoi rejects US dancer’s ‘blackface’ criticism,” 2019, p. 1). Zakharova’s comments reflect the sentiment that in Russia, performance in blackface should not be considered racist because it does not carry the historical associations of minstrelsy.

To address the Bolshoi’s first defense of the continued use of blackface in classical ballet, it is necessary to consider whether the essence of historical ballets such as

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La Bayadere, Schéhérazade, and Petrouchka can be preserved with slight alterations in costuming. As previously discussed, many ballet companies in the United States continue to perform La Bayadere and Petrouchka but have altered the costuming to remove the use of blackface. It is also important to note that, even when performed in traditional costuming, modern versions of La Bayadere and other 19th century ballets will look much different than their original productions. Technical innovation in ballet has progressed to the point that dancers today are able to accomplish technical feats well beyond their 19th and early 20th century counterparts. However, modern day ballet dancers are not asked to be less technically proficient in order to preserve the historical authenticity of traditional ballets.

Just as the dancers’ execution of the choreography has evolved with time, many dance scholars believe that costuming choices like blackface can evolve as well. British choreographer of Asian descent, Shobana Jeyasingh, describes how while watching La Bayadere she was “offended as a British Asian to sit in an audience and see supposedly Indian holy men [the fakirs] move like servile monkeys.” (Winship, 2020). Jeyasingh believes that ballet companies must alter traditional costuming and choreography to align with modern-day conceptions of racism. She states, “Every branch of the arts has had to engage with the legacy of colonialism, so I don’t see why ballet can’t do the same” (Winship, 2020). Jeyasingh’s statements reflect the view that some classical ballet traditions, such as the use of blackface, are not worth preserving. Statements from Phil Chan, Co-director of Final Bow for Yellowface, an organization created to reevaluate Asian representation in the performing arts, reflect these sentiments. He states, “If you think about what a performing art is, change is an inherent part of it. It’s not fixed like sculpture or painting. The original Black Swan tutu was canary yellow; Giselle had national dances in the second act until Petipa changed it; there are several versions of Balanchine’s Apollo. So if we’re changing some things, why are we are clinging to outdated representations of race?” (Winship, 2020). Despite the arguments of Western dancers, choreographers, and dance scholars, the artistic leadership of the Bolshoi does not appear to believe that the historical legacy of 19th and 20th century ballets can be preserved if the use of blackface is removed.

The Bolshoi’s second defense of their continued use of blackface, that there simply are not enough ballet dancers of color in Russia to portray these roles authentically, is flawed for a number of reasons. According to the 2010 census, approximately 81% of Russians identify themselves as “ethnic Russians.” This means that approximately 19% of the Russian population is composed of ethnic minorities. Whether or not any of these Russian ethnic minorities are considered “white” is a complex question; however, this data demonstrates that if Russian ballet companies were to employ dancers in a way that is proportional to the demographic ethnic diversity of the country, approximately


one fifth of the dancers would be ethnic minorities. The Bolshoi is a large company that employs hundreds of dancers, so one fifth of the company would be enough to provide the cast for a full productiion.

The Russian ballet community’s second defense of their use of blackface is further undermined by the fact that the Bolshoi Ballet has a practice of hiring international dancers. While many dancers have come to the Bolshoi from other Eastern European countries such as Ukraine, Georgia, and Hungary, the Bolshoi has hired dancers such as David Hallberg from as far as the United States (Bolshoi Theatre, 2021). This practice demonstrates that even if there are not sufficient dancers of color in Russia to authentically portray roles traditionally performed in blackface, the Bolshoi is capable of hiring international dancers to fill these roles. It is also important to note, however, that many dance scholars believe that simply asking dancers of color to perform roles traditional performed by white dancers in blackface is not a sufficient solution to address the racism inherent in these ballets. Jarvinen (2020) writes, “Typecasting makes the dancer complicit in racist representation and, at its worst, enables a reading in which the racist stereotype can be attested as “truthful” by the nonwhite body dancing the role” (p. 85). If dancer of color are forced to perform choreography that portrays their race as a caricature of negative stereotypes, the orientalist and racist underpinnings of the ballet are still upheld. The Bolshoi’s final defense of their continued use of blackface is more complex to deconstruct. Russian blackface advocates assert that the idea that blackface is racist is uniquely American, and that Russian ballet companies should not be forced to comply with Western standards of racism. Whether or not blackface is viewed as racially insensitive by people of color in Russia has not been sufficiently researched; however, Jarvinen asserts that even when detached from the history of minstrelsy, the use of blackface by Russian ballet companies should be considered racist. Jarvinen references Achille Mbembe’s theory of racial assignation to argue that continued performance of the negative racial stereotypes in ballets such as Schéhérazade and Petrouchka functions to marginalize people of color by reinforcing their “exoticism” and portraying them as “unrepresentable” while allowing white audiences to observe in “willful ignorance” (Jarvinen, 2020, p. 82). She further asserts that while the Russian use of blackface is not directly related to blackface minstrelsy, it is associated with other negative historical contexts. Jarvinen (2020) describes how the Moor character in Petrouchka “was literally an Arab, and primarily associated with the (Orthodox) Christians’ fight against Islam — a Spanish Reconquista imagined onto the conflicts against the Ottoman Turks on the Balkan Peninsula that continued well into the twentieth century” (p. 82). Thus, rather than carrying associations with minstrelsy, the Russian Moor character carries associations of 19th and 20th century European Islamophobia. Jarvinen’s arguments demonstrate that even when detached from the American minstrel scene, Russian bal-

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let companies’ continued use of blackface actively marginalizes people of color, and reinforces historical Orientalism and Islamophobia.

In summary, while, in the United States the use of blackface in classical ballet has rapidly declined in response to the post-World War II Civil Rights movement, in Russia, the blackface remains commonplace in performances of ballets such as La Bayadere, Petrouchka, and Schéhérazade. In response to Copeland’s criticism, the artistic leadership of the Bolshoi presented three defenses for their continued use of blackface: that the use of blackface is necessary to preserve the historical authenticity of these ballets, that there are not sufficient non-white dancers in Russia to perform these roles authentically, and that blackface is not considered racist in Russia because it lacks historical associations with minstrelsy. This research deconstructed these defenses and provided opposing perspectives that suggest that Russian ballet companies’ continued use of blackface is unnecessary and should be considered racist. The referenced scholars argue that Russian use of blackface is unnecessary because the historical authenticity of classical ballets can be preserved without the use of blackface and Russian ballet companies are capable of hiring dancers of color. These scholars argue that Russian ballet companies’ continued use of blackface should be considered racist because it actively marginalizes communities of color through negative representation and associations with historical Orientalism and Islamophobia.

The scholarly conversation around the use of blackface in classical ballet is relatively new and more research needs to be conducted to determine the impact of the continued use of blackface on communities of color. Anecdotal evidence needs to be collected to determine how non-white communities in Russia view the use of blackface as these communities are often left out of Russian scholarship. More research should also be conducted to determine how the continued use of blackface in Russian ballet companies is indicative of the Russian political atmosphere and of Russian resistance to liberal Western ideology. It would be interesting to examine the Russian use of blackface through the lens of political and ideological relations between Russia and the United States. The scholarly conversation on the use of blackface in classical ballet is part of a growing conversation on racism in classical ballet. Ballet companies are being forced to examine whether the work they present reflects a 21st century perspective of race relations. Many scholars and dance artists are beginning to recognize the ways in which historical notions of white supremacy are entangled in the foundations of classical ballet and are coming to understand that, in order for classical ballet to remain relevant for the 21st century, it needs to face a racial reckoning. These scholars and artists are beginning to realize that the continued use blackface is one of many ways in which ballet remains entrenched in racist ideology that has no place in the modern world.




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Zhuang, H., Cheng, L., Wang, Y., Zhang, Y. K., Zhao, M. F., Liang, G. D., Zhang, M. C., Li, Y. G., Zhao, J. B., Gao, Y. N., Zhou, Y. J., & Liu, S. L. (2019). Dysbiosis of the Gut Microbiome in Lung Cancer. Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology, 9, 112.


Myhra, L., Smith, B., Holcomb, S., & Erb, J. (2020). Tribally specific cultural learning: the Remember the Removal program. AlterNative : an International Journal of Indigenous Scholarship., 16(3), 233–247. https://doi. org/10.1177/1177180120952897

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Gonzalez, V., Gameon, J., FireMoon, P., & Salois, E. (2020). Health Disparities Research with American Indian Communities: The Importance of Trust and Transparency. American Journal of Community Psychology. ajcp.12445

Serier, K., Sarafin, R., Greenfield, B., & Hirchak, K. (2020). Culturally tailored evidence-based substance use disorder treatments are efficacious with an American Indian Southwest tribe: an open-label pilot-feasibility randomized controlled trial. Addiction.

Venner, K. (2012). Review of Substance Use Disorder Treatment Research in Indian Country: Future Directions to Strive toward Health Equity. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse., 38(5), 483–492. 0.2012.702170

Hallum-Montes, R., Gardner, S., Blume, A., & Ricker, A. (2019). Partnering with Native Communities to Develop a Culturally Grounded Intervention for Substance Use Disorder. American Journal of Community Psychology., 64(1-2), 72–82.

Sommerfeld, D., Jaramillo, E., Lujan, E., & Bly, R. (2018). Improving Native American elder access to and use of health care through effective health system navigation. BMC Health Services Research., 18.

Duran, B., Rhew, I., Magarati, M., & Larimer, M. (2020). Risk and Protective Factors Associated with Moderate and Acute Suicidal Ideation among a National Sample of Tribal College and University Students 2015-2016. The Journal of Rural Health.

Qeadan, F. (2020). Social Support and Its Effects on Attempted Suicide Among American Indian/Alaska Native Youth in New Mexico. Archives of Suicide Research., 24, 337–359.

FireMoon, P., & Rink, E. (2020). Sexual risk behaviors and the legacy of colonial violence among Northern plains American Indian youth: A mixed methods exploratory study. Social Science & Medicine., 258. socscimed.2020.113120

Armstrong, Katrina, and Donald Warne. “The 2019 Partial Government Shutdown and Its Impact on Health Care for American Indians and Alaska Natives.” Journal of health care for the poor and underserved. 31.1 (2020): 75–80. Web

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Walt, Stephen M. 1999. “Rigor or Rigor Mortis? Rational Choice and Security Studies.” International Security 23 (4): 5–48. Wheeler, J. W. (2014). “Interview with Robert Jervis.” International Relations. 28(4), 479–504. doi:10.1177/0047117814555138



Camus, Raoul F. Military Music of the American Revolution Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1976.

Silverman, Kenneth. A Cultural History of the American Revolution: Painting, Music, Literature, and the Theatre in the Colonies and the United States from the Treaty of Paris to the Inauguration of George Washington, 1763-1789 New York: Columbia University Press, 1988. alma991712613404105

Daigler, Kenneth A. “Nathan Hale and the British Occupation of New York City.” In Spies, Patriots, and Traitors: American Intelligence in the Revolutionary War, 93-110. Georgetown University Press, 2014. ctt6wpkz8.10

Massey, Gregory D. ““Those Dear Ragged Continentals”: Winter at Valley Forge December 1777–June 1778.” In John Laurens and the American Revolution, 86-106. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 2000. doi:10.2307/j.ctv6wgcq1.14

Middlekauff, Robert. The Glorious Cause: the American Revolution, 1763-1789. 2nd ed. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2007. ProQuest Ebook Central - Reader (

Thompson, Mary V. ““As If I Had Been a Very Great Somebody”: Martha Washington’s Revolution.” In Women in the American Revolution: Gender, Politics, and the Domestic World, edited by Oberg Barbara B., 128-46. Charlottesville; London: University of Virginia Press, 2019.

Ward, Harry M. George Washington’s Enforcers: Policing the Continental Army Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2006.


Smith, Frances Grace, and Ezra Barker. “The American Revolution Hits Church Music.” The New England Quarterly 4, no. 4 (1931): 783-88.

Arthur Schrader, “Broadside Ballads of Boston, 1813: The Isaiah Thomas Collection,” Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society 98, no. 1 (April 1988): 69–111.

Boyle, Joseph Lee, and Samuel Armstrong. “Notes and Documents: From Saratoga to Valley Forge: The Diary of Lt. Samuel Armstrong.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 121, no. 3 (1997): 237-70.

Brown, Jared A. “Plays and Amusements Offered for and by the American Military During the Revolutionary War.” Theatre research international. 4, no. 1 (1978): 12–24.

Hazen, Margaret Hindle. 1976. “Songs of Revolutionary America.” New England Historical & Genealogical Register 130 (July): 179–95.

Howe, Warren “Early American Military Music.” American Music 17, no. 1 (1999): 87-116.

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MacKinnon, Neil. “Bitter Verse: Poetry, Verse and Song of the American Loyalists in Nova Scotia.” Dalhousie Review 65, no. 1 (March 3, 1985): 111–21. &site=ehost-live

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Putukian, M. (2016, February 1). The psychological response to injury in student athletes: a narrative review with a focus on mental health. British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Yang, J., Schaefer, J. T., Zhang, N., Covassin, T., Ding, K., & Heiden, E. (2014, December 1). Social Support From the Athletic Trainer and Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety at Return to Play. Journal of Athletic Training. https://meridian.

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The George Mason Review (GMR) provides prime examples of undergraduate scholarship that can be used to teach students about the characteristics of good research writing, inspire them to explore new ideas, and provide a sense of personal confidence that results from publishing their work for a campus-wide audience of peers and professors. Exposing students to the work of their counterparts can act as a mirror, reflecting undiscovered personal potential. Incorporating GMR into your classroom can take many forms: develop a lesson plan around analyzing one of our published works; utilize the concepts and ideas contained in these pages as a brainstorming tool for students unsure of what topic to explore; offer extra credit to students who submit their work for publication; or come up with your own innovative application.


Some professors have found success in raising student achievement by making submission to GMR a course requirement. Students who write with a wide and diverse potential audience in mind tend to put more thought into their work, leading to improved academic outcomes and higher levels of critical thinking. This is a valuable exercise in producing a paper that is accessible to those from varying backgrounds without comprising academic integrity. Knowledge that your work will be publicly available can be a powerful motivator, and publication in an academic journal is a great addition to any résumé or portfolio.


Mason’s INTO program, the English Department, and UNIV 100 classes have used GMR in a variety of ways. We would be happy to make a brief presentation to your class or meet with you one-on-one to create a tailored approach that complements your curriculum.

GMR is always available online:

To request physical copies, email:



The George Mason Review (GMR) began life as “an annual collection of English 101 and undergraduate writing” in 1992, publishing under the name GMU Freshman Review. That first edition’s introduction reveals the motivations of its creators as they sought to “create a sense of community by publishing work that reflects the cultural and academic quality of GMU’s undergraduate population.” Their clear intent was to present “models of writing” that could serve as a “learning tool that crosses the curriculum” for both faculty and students:

“We want this anthology to help undergraduate writers with what seems to be one of their biggest difficulties — generating ideas and just getting started… When students know their work is being taken seriously beyond the classroom, they may very well aspire to a whole new set of standards and, with purpose and focus, aim at the highest quality possible in their writing… Instructors can find in the collection a sense of what to prepare themselves for and what kind of standards they should set for themselves and their classes… We hope that the essays are useful — whether you are ‘stuck’ [on an assignment] or an instructor looking to show your students how a research paper ‘works.’”

Over 30 years later, our mission remains the same: seek out and publish exemplary undergraduate writing across the curriculum with the conviction that students grow as scholars by publishing their work for a campus-wide audience and faculty members gain a valuable classroom tool that can help improve academic outcomes.

Since those early days as a freshman English anthology, GMR has evolved into a modern, peer-reviewed, undergraduate research journal that accepts scholarly submissions from all years and all majors. By exploring and challenging the boundaries separating disciplines from one other — the humanities from the sciences, the academic from the creative — The George Mason Review exists as a unique platform where scholarship, creativity, and critical thought can co-exist.

Mason has experienced rapid evolution as an institution over the past several decades, but the lodestar that has guided us through each step (or leap) along the way is our shared commitment to academic excellence, meaningful innovation, and cuttingedge research. The George Mason Review embodies each of these noble pursuits while providing all Mason undergrads with opportunities and experiences that pave the way for greatness in the classroom and prepare them for successful careers in the future.

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I am extremely proud to serve the Mason community as the faculty advisor for GMR and continue the rich traditions established by that first cohort of educators who recognized the need for this type of forum and made it a reality. Participation is vital to our continued growth as an academic journal, so I strongly encourage all students to submit original work for publication and all faculty members to consider integrating GMR into their curriculum.

Please feel free to reach out directly to me ( with any questions you may have, requests for extra copies of GMR, or to share examples of how you have utilized our publication in your classroom.

Reflecting on the history and evolution of this journal has only strengthened my belief in its value and purpose. I look forward to collaborating with the outstanding students, faculty, and staff of George Mason University to share the amazing things we accomplish together with the world.



Articles inside


pages 151-152


page 150


pages 146-149


pages 142-146


pages 140-142


pages 138-139


pages 130-136


pages 122-129


pages 116-121


pages 98-115


pages 86-96


pages 78-84


pages 66-77


pages 58-65


pages 55-57


page 54


pages 46-52


pages 34-43


pages 25-32

TABLE 2: Future Research Suggestions on Resilience & Social Media

page 24


pages 22-23


pages 18-21


pages 12-16


page 10


pages 3, 5, 7
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