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Metin Aslantas, a junior electrical and computer engineering major, investigated the ways in which states dominated by one group become more democratic in an intensive research opportunity this semester.

Aslantas worked as an EXCEL Scholar with Ilan Peleg, Dana Professor of Government and Law. Peleg explains, “Metin assisted me with research for a book I am working on tentatively entitled Democratizing the Hegemonic State: Political Transformations in the Early 21st Century. The focus of this study was on the process through which hegemonic states, or states dominated by one group, become more broadly democratic.”

Many developing countries are facing the dilemma of reforming their political and governmental systems as their economies become more liberal, according to Aslantas.

“However, politicians are not usually keen and brave enough to proceed with these reforms,” he says. “It is really interesting to analyze different countries and see how they have coped or are dealing with this issue. As Professor Peleg and I analyzed different countries, we divided them into different categories – those that succeeded the democratization, those that are undergoing this painful process now, and those that have failed in the past. For each category, we tried to give an economic and political background and reasons for success or failure. We also made predictions for the ones under the transition now.”

Aslantas’ responsibilities entailed collecting relevant materials and summarizing previous research. Peleg and Aslantas discussed the findings, and Peleg shared what he wrote with the student.

“Professor Peleg is simply amazing,” Aslantas says. “He really values your opinions and challenges you. He loves being challenged himself. He is lively and very enthusiastic about what he does.”

Notes Peleg, “Metin had excellent background knowledge for this research. A native of Turkey, he knows the Middle East very well, and Turkey is one of the cases I am extremely interested in. Metin was in my Introduction to International Politics course last semester and expressed his interest in the subject matter to me. He decided he would join me, and we made great progress.

“Metin benefited enormously from his involvement in this project. He followed what I did very closely, and this is one of the best ways to learn how things are done.”

Aslantas concurs. “I learned so much about how scholars work and how to become a good researcher, analyzer, and writer. This also was a great opportunity for me to develop a better vision on international politics.”

“EXCEL gives a student a chance to research topics of his or her interest,” he adds. “I have always liked politics and I think engineers have to get more involved with the social and political issues because we are trained to solve problems.”

A member of the International Students Association, Aslantas served as an ISA peer adviser last year. He is vice president of the El Mundo living group. Fluent in English, Turkish, and French, he has served an internship with Alcatel Communications Group.

Categorized in: Academic News