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Jill Beth Geisenheimer of Upper Saddle River, N.J., is doing research for a book on how hegemonic countries, those dominated by one ethnic group over another, evolve into pluralistic societies.

She’s participating in Lafayette’s distinctive EXCEL Scholars program. In EXCEL, students assist faculty members with research while earning a stipend. Geisenheimer, a graduate of Northern Highlands High School, is working with Ilan Peleg, Charles A. Dana professor of government and law.

A foremost expert on the Middle East peace process. Peleg is the author of Human Rights in the West Bank and Gaza: Legacy and Politics, a comprehensive book dealing with human rights in the occupied territories. It was named an Outstanding Scholarly Book by CHOICE, the publication of the Association of College and Research Libraries, in 1996. He has authored other books on this subject and his other areas of interest, which include Israeli politics and culture, the nuclear arms race, U.S. foreign policy, censorship and freedom of expression, U.S.-Soviet relations, international conflict, and international terrorism.

“It’s my first time doing EXCEL work, and I like working in the beginning stages of this project,” she says. “It’s interesting how Prof. Peleg laid out the chapters, and I like helping bring the book into print.”

An international affairs major, Geisenheimer is helping Peleg with a chapter exploring six case studies, including Quebec in its relationship to Canada; Spain’s Basques and Catalans; Northern Ireland’s Good Friday power-sharing accords; the successful coexistence of Switzerland’s three main ethnic groups; Belgium’s Flemish and Valermes; and the struggle of minorities in the United States.

The tentative name of the book is Nationalizing the Hegemonic State. In particular Peleg is focusing on exploring the mechanism for achieving democracy.

Geisenheimer’s job has been to identify relevant material for study, summarize previous research, and analyze the relationships between conflict and ethnic division.

“I appreciate this opportunity,” she says. “I’ve bettered my research and editing skills. It’s introduced me to a new topic and given me experience with different cultures. I’m very impressed that there’s a program in which we can get our hands dirty and experience a real taste of scholarly research.”

She is confident the work will bolster her in her major and career. She’s hoping to go into international business.

“I’m not sure where it will end up taking me,” she adds. “There are so many possibilities.”

Another Side of Jill

She played Titania in the Lafayette College Theatre production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She’s a member of Delta Gamma Sorority.

Categorized in: Academic News