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Undergraduate Research Experience in Global Political Economy

Social Networks of Southeast Asian Palm Oil Capitalists

Dr. Paul Gellert, Sociology & Global Studies

Overview: This research experience is an opportunity to join, learn, and assist the research project of Dr. Gellert (PI), including travel to Indonesia and Singapore in January 2023. The research project uses social network analysis (SNA) and qualitative interviews to examine the Southeast Asian corporations involved in the production, processing, and trade of palm oil and its derivatives. Up to two (2) undergraduate (or MA) students will assist the research by focusing on data collection on one (or more) individual companies and their board members and executives. They may, with PI mentorship, add individualized elements to their research projects and conduct or join interviews with English-speaking respondents. Their research will likely serve as the foundation for an honors thesis (or masters) research project.

Duration: The most important component of this undergraduate research experience will be a research trip to Singapore and Indonesia in the January 2023 Winter Mini-Term (approximately January 1 – 22, 2023). This tentative schedule includes 1 week (4 days) of study and research in Singapore with Dr. Gellert and his Indonesian collaborator; 2 weeks in Yogyakarta, Indonesia at Gadjah Mada University for data collection and analysis; 2 days of research in Jakarta, Indonesia. All project-related expenses, including airfare, lodging, and meals, will be covered. Students may earn Study Abroad credit by taking GLBS 492 Off Campus Study for the January term at their own expense. All students will take GLBS 493 Independent Study in Fall 2022.


Student researchers are required to

  1. take Global Studies 493 Independent Study (3 cr) with Dr. Gellert in fall 2022 in order to learn about the research and obtain methodological training, including the IRB clearance process and also prepare for international travel to Indonesia and Singapore.
  2. obtain IRB clearance
  3. have a passport valid until at least July 2023 (6 months after the trip) and proof of Covid-19 vaccination (in order to enter Singapore and Indonesia). Other vaccinations are highly recommended for Indonesia, including hepatitis A and B and typhoid (refer to information on the International SOS link on CGE’s international travel page: )
  4. obtain a visa to Indonesia (process may take several months)
  5. commit to applying for a competitive scholarship or fellowship (e.g., Gilman, Fulbright, Freeman Asia, Princeton in Asia, etc.). Advising and coaching on these applications is available from the Undergraduate Research & Fellowships office ( )


  • advanced undergraduate (or Masters) students, especially rising juniors, graduating no earlier than May 2023
  • GPA over 3.0 (preferably 3.5 in major)
  • strong interest in critical political economy of the environment and global capitalism.
    • Evidence of relevant prior coursework. Examples include GLBS 250 Introduction to Global Studies; SOCI 442 Comparative Poverty and Development; SOCI 446 Modern World-Systems; POLS 454 Politics in China and Japan; POLS 471 International Political Economy;
  • effective analytical and communication skills.
  • strong organizational and time management skills.
  • ability to adapt flexibly to foreign and unpredictable circumstances
  • previous research and/or foreign experience preferred

Application: Applications are due at 5 pm on Friday, April 8, 2022 and should be submitted through the online portal below. Applications will consist of the following materials:

  1. Statement of interest (about 500 words) – please describe your career goals; why you are interested in global political economy and/or political economy of the environment; what interests you most about participating in this program; and any educational or economic obstacles you have overcome
  2. Resume – please include any previous internships and research experience
  3. Transcript – please provide an unofficial UT transcript
  4. Two references – please provide names and contact information for 2 references. At least one must be from a faculty member.

We aim to invite finalists for interviews before spring semester classes end (May 10) and aim to make selections shortly thereafter.

A final note: Travel in January 2023 is contingent on Covid-19 situation and restrictions.

Questions: If you have questions, feel free to contact Paul Gellert at

Accepted file types: pdf, doc, docx, Max. file size: 2 MB.
Please name your file as lastname_SOI
Accepted file types: doc, docx, pdf, jpg, png, Max. file size: 2 MB.
Please name your file as lastname_resume
Accepted file types: doc, docx, pdf, jpg, png, Max. file size: 2 MB.
Please name your file as lastname_transcript
Accepted file types: pdf, doc, docx, Max. file size: 2 MB.
Please provide name, position, and complete contact information for at least two references. Name your file as lastname_reference