Probing Protest Waves
Ohio Wesleyan Student Helps Professor With Research Into Global Activism
By Cole Hatcher
Name: Brianna DeMuth ’23
Hometown: Findlay, Ohio
Majors: Politics and Government and Environmental Studies
OWU Connection Experience: Student research assistant for James Franklin, Ph.D., Ohio Wesleyan professor of Politics and Government
Brianna DeMuth ’23 is spending the semester helping professor James Franklin with his ongoing research into protest waves around the world. Franklin developed a methodology to identify the waves and has been gathering information on protests within the waves for the past seven years.
DeMuth and Mai Dinh ’21 of Hanoi, Vietnam, are helping Franklin with his work this semester. Their work includes “reading secondary sources that discuss particular protest waves and recording certain types of information,” Franklin said, “such as causes and effects of the protests, and characteristics of the governments challenged by the protests. …
“The project dates back to 2014,” said Franklin, who joined the OWU faculty in 2000. “I have presented three conference papers and published a book chapter. Now that I'm almost done with the data collection – I have collected data on over 5,000 events in 142 protest waves that occurred in authoritarian regimes – I hope to do more presentations and publish articles and a book.”
What DeMuth is Doing
As for her role, DeMuth explained: “In layman’s terms, I research authoritarian protest waves in various countries – so there is a list of almost every wave of protest that has led to some kind of accountability or regime change. …
“I … look at countries that haven't had a lot of coverage but are still immensely significant. I look at various aspects of authoritarian protest like wavelength, demands from opposition, other causal factors, participants and actors, government responses, and factors in outcome of said protests.”
Connecting to the Classroom
“I really love the research aspect of decentralization and the connections made with each country I study. I personally love comparative politics. It’s my specialty in political science, and I’m very lucky to be able to study this.
“I’ve taken quite a few comparative politics classes looking at regimes separately and within said state, but this is the first year I’ve (explored) international-taking human rights in international perspective. I think the ‘comparative-to-international’ approach to studying politics and policy works best for me and because I have a good grasp on each governmental organization before studying the relationship between said countries and the globalization factors that follow.
“With this project comes a lot of critical reading skills that ties with any class really. Political science research is a lot of reading, and you must know how to not only understand the material quickly, but form concise observations on the material and present it in a relatable way. I view this as an invaluable tool in any academic setting.”
Additional OWU Involvement
“I’m the president and campus leader of Citizens' Climate Lobby, a grassroots NGO (non-governmental organization) lobbyist group that focuses on climate change policy, good relationships with representatives, bipartisanship, energy innovation, and climate education. Every two weeks, I give an interactive presentation on a policy that my club wants to learn about or just really want to talk about. It’s usually climate policy related, but we’ve talked about stuff like racism and the idea of community as well.
“I’m also an active member of YDSA-the Young Democratic Socialists of America, Model United Nations, the Sustainability Task Force, and next semester I will be joining the Treehouse SLU. (The small living unit houses a dozen students interested in exploring environmental issues.)
Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan
“I chose Ohio Wesleyan because this school allowed me to study the two things I love the most: politics and the environment. Other schools narrowed my options, and OWU simply let me follow my own path.
“A selling point was the Theory-to-Practice Grants – the idea that as an undergraduate student, I could fund some passion projects and study what I love. I have yet to write one but I'm thinking about one with Dr. (Ellen) Arnold on the mobilization of urban settings in China and how this affects the idea of anthropocentrism.
“Also, the Wesleyan in Washington program I thought was a great experience that I plan on applying to.”
My Plans After Graduation
“My plan is to take a year off and hopefully work full-time/intern with Amnesty International, the Human Rights Foundation, Freedom House, or a state position internship – something that offers real-world experience and gives me a chance to take a step back and study for the LSAT.
“Then, my ultimate goal is to attend law school and focus on labor and environmental law, hopefully working for OSHA or the EPA in some kind of worker protection law scenario.”