Summer Internship, June 21 - July 16, 2021

Note from Center Director, Professor Kristen Monroe:


We have an exceptionally strong group of interns this summer and look forward to meeting – at least virtually – and working with each of you. If it is possible, we will all have a meeting as a huge group on Tuesday, June 22nd at 1 pm. If we can arrange this, the zoom link will be sent later.  At the moment, however, it appears as if this might be challenging technologically. Thus, we are planning on meeting independently with each module.  Each module has its own meeting times and zoom links which were emailed to each participant. The times and brief descriptions for the modules are listed below. 

Some of you have asked if there is anything you need do in preparation; no. BUT if you do want to read some material, we have listed a few suggestions for each module. It is not necessary to read these works in advance, nor is it necessary to commit to a particular number of hours you work per week. This program is entirely voluntary so you may work as much or as little as you like. (Last year, I worked for an additional month with students who wanted to do a project on COVID. We produced a paper that will be published in a book on science and ethics, and which was presented at a conference at the University of Notre Dame. This project was initiated by the students, and is not something that is required.)

For questions, please contact Kristen Monroe at



    Kristen Renwick Monroe, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Director, UCI Interdisciplinary Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics and Morality (Ethics Center) and Monica DeRoche, ABD PhD Candidate, Department of Political Science, UCI, specializing in political psychology, gender equality and gender violence, and childhood trauma.
    An on-going book project on survivors of the Holocaust uses extensive interviews with Holocaust survivors to ask what helped them flourish and create constructive lives after surviving World War II. Successful academics, doctors, lawyers, members of the Royal Academy in Canada and the American Academy of Arts and Science, the first and only female president of the University of Chicago and one of the first women to head the American Political Science Association, among other distinctions, these are hardly the people described in an official report after World War II as people demoralized beyond rehabilitation. Why were they not broken? Here we build on classic psychological theories – such as Viktor Frankel’s and Sigmund Freud’s – but also examine theories and concepts developed at the end of the 20th century and drawing on moral psychology, moral cognition, neuroscience, and social and political psychology, including post-traumatic stress disorder syndrome (PTSD) and its criticisms, including literature on hardiness, resilience, flow, restricted environmental stimulation theory, intrinsic motivation, complexity theory, and our own prior work on wartime trauma.
    Students will be taught how to compose and research a literature review and how to set this in a scientific context that makes clear what your work will contribute. The question of resilience will also be applied to situations such as pandemics like the COVID-19, and what mechanisms help people deal with this kind of trauma as well. Students will meet twice a week, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons for 3 hours at a time. Interested interns may check out A Darkling Plain: Stories of Conflict and Humanity during War (Kristen Monroe et al 2016, Cambridge University Press) for an illustration of the type of work we will be doing.


     Martin Luther Final Presentation Slides


    Meetings: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10-12. Zoom link has been sent to participants.

    Andrada Costoiu, ABD in Political Science, U of Illinois, Chicago Circle Campus and Chloe Lampros-Monroe, graduate student, Brown School of Social Work, Public Health and Social Policy, Washington U in St Louis. Costoiu studies immigration in a comparative perspective; Lampros-Monroe studies social work, history and public health with special emphasis on issues of mothers and children

    Co-taught by Andrada Costoiu (Tobis Fellow and ABD in Political Science, U of Illinois, Chicago Circle Campus), Chloe Lampros-Monroe (grad student, Brown School of Social Work, Public Health and Social Policy, Washington U in St Louis) and Hannah Dastgheib (2020 intern, student at Andover Academy).

    Week 1: we would look at the history of human rights and assess the most important milestones of human rights in the last 100 years. We will discuss shifts between older and new paradigms and explore what things constitute human rights violations in our present times (e.g., political, physical, security, economic). 

    Week 2: We will discuss what is the importance of state power and historical circumstances to promote (or fail to promote) certain human rights. We will try to understand ways in which multiple contextual variables (political, economic, and social contexts) can affect the evolution and diffusion of certain human rights. Then we will focus on the United States and try to understand how much the nation-state executive is checked or balanced by legislatures, judicial institutions, or other factors. 

    We will show you how to analyze interview data. We have interviewed both scholars and activists in human rights. We have asked the past presidents of the organized section on human rights in the American Political Science Association (APSA)what human rights as a concept means to them. We have also asked them what books they find the most useful in introducing newcomers to the field of human rights, in conceptualizing the major issues currently facing the field of human rights, and/or the key problems that traditionally face practitioners of human rights. Finally, we have asked what major issues need to be faced in the aftermath of the Trump presidency. We then asked human rights activists and practitioners –lawyers and participants in NGOs dedicated to improving human rights – these same questions:

    What human rights means to them and what they believe are the most critical human rights to attend to going forward. We will teach you how to analyze these interviews and how to do a narrative interpretive analysis.

    The appendix in The Hand of Compassion (Kristen Monroe, Princeton U Press, 2004) contains a chapter on how to construct a narrative- interpretive analysis. You will be tasked with analyzing these interviews.

    Week 3: We will continue the interviews’ analysis and discuss the results.

    Then, we will teach you how to build and write a literature review, how to set this in the scientific context and make clear what is the contribution we could make with the results we obtained from the interviews.  We will split you in groups, with one group focusing on the past work on human rights and the second on the present.

    Week 4: this is when all your hard work will come together. We will teach you about the parts of a scientific paper and put a paper together using your literature reviews and your data analysis of the interviews. For those of you who work on this paper,  you will have your names included in any publications or documentary. We have IRB approval for these interviews.



    Meetings: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10am-12pm. Zoom link has been sent to participants.

    Jeni Francisco, 3rd year PhD student, Department of Political Science, UCI, works at the intersection of peacebuilding and militarization.
    Topics Covered: International Relations; International Law; Feminist Security Studies; Wartime Sexual Violence; Interpretive Methods; Discourse Analysis; Narratives and Memory

    Summer interns will analyze how the discourse on wartime gender-based violence may be impeding sincere forms of justice and emancipation from wartime gender-based violence. You will read literature relating to (1) IR and "gender neutrality", (2) The question of "gender" in international law, and (3) Interpretive methods. In doing so, summer interns will become familiar with the literature and be taught how to write a literature review and apply it to other cases of wartime gender-based violence (in the form of a research report, publication, op-ed, etc.).
    Summer interns are expected to work in groups (conducted remotely) in preparation for the final presentation. Jeni will provide a reading list that will be made available during our first meeting. I'm thinking that the main "themes" we can cover relates to: (1) The question of gender in IR and feminist contributions, (2) How wartime gender-based violence is covered (academic: scholarly and legal and grassroots: NGOs and activist), and (3) Interpretive methods (discourse analysis and interviewing).

     As summer interns, I hope you will become familiar with the literature and be able to write a literature review. Often, I will use examples from the Philippines' WWII "comfort women," as it is my current research topic. However, I hope you can use the literature and apply it to other cases of wartime gender-based violence (in the form of a research report, publication, op-ed, etc.).

     All meetings will occur via Zoom and conducted in a seminar-style with interns serving as facilitators. Mandatory meetings will take place 2x a week (Tue & Thu) from 10 am-12 pm. I will also set aside a time from 12-12:45 pm as an optional time to talk with your fellow peers or ask me any questions – the readings and topics are heavy, both in the literal and emotional sense. And I'm happy to stay after meetings to talk to any of you about any concerns or thoughts you have. There will be readings for our first meeting, and I will send out the PDF files well in advance before our first meeting. 

    Required readings before our first meeting: 

    1) Feminist Problems with International Norms. Gender Mainstreaming in Global Governance – Jacqui True (2011)

    2) Music and Dance in the Japanese Military "Comfort Women" System. A Case Study in the Performance Arts, War, and Sexual Violence – Joshua Pilzer (2014)

    Optional: (You can skim through this piece. I want to offer it as an option so you can get a grasp of how feminist legal scholars cover the issue) 

    1) Gender Crimes as War Crimes: Integrating Crimes against Women into International Criminal Law -- Rhonda Copelon (2000)


    Meetings: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10am-12pm. Zoom link has been sent to participants.

    Matt Dean, PhD candidate, Department of Philosophy. Dean works on moral theory, well-being, and the philosophy of social phenomena.
    Traditional theories of human motivation divide reasons for action into two categories: (1) self-interested reasons and (2) moral reasons. Broadly speaking, I act out of self-interest when I aim to promote my own interests, and I act from a moral reason when I aim to promote the interests of someone else or the interests of humanity in general. Philosophers of well-being have recently challenged this dichotomy, contending that there is a third realm of reasons for action, reasons motivated by meaning. Consider an example. When I stay up late sewing a Halloween costume for my daughter, it isn’t clear that I must do so for either self-interested or moral reasons. From the perspective of self-interest, a glass of wine and a film sounds more appealing, surely, and from the perspective of morality there seem to be many more pressing concerns that could occupy my time. Susan Wolf’s influential book Meaning in Life and Why it Matters (2010) argues that sewing the costume is an example of being motivated by reasons of love, reasons underpinned by the pursuit of a meaningful life.
    We will begin with a brief overview of some recent skeptical concerns about meaning in life, concerns that have led many sociologists, philosophers, economists (and the rest of us) to worry that the 21st century is experiencing a crisis of meaning. Perhaps life is absurd or otherwise meaningless, the skeptic contends. We will then investigate recent answers to the skeptical challenge, answers that attempt to show that life is either subjectively meaningful – i.e., that meaning is a subjective feeling, like happiness – or that life is objectively meaningful, that there is a fact of the matter about the meaning (or lack of meaning) present in a particular life. Students will be taught how to research and compose a literature review, how to conduct and analyze survey data, and how to present results to a group effectively and comfortably.
    Meetings: We will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 12pm. Meetings will be conducted on Zoom as a seminar, meaning that we will work together to clarify and critique what we have read, strategize next research steps, and plan the end-of-module presentations.


    Meetings: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12-2 pm. Zoom link has been sent to participants.

    Taught by Itzel Garcia, this module focuses on one of the most controversial topics in American politics today: the police. A 5th year graduate student in philosophy at UCI, Itzel covers a wide range of topics, from police brutality, police militarization, political authority, legitimacy, activism, civil disobedience, and political violence. In most parts of the United States, failure to comply with the lawful order of a police officer is a misdemeanor. In addition to these laws, western society typically views interactions with police as ones where agents ought to be subservient and helpful. We are told that the police exist to “protect and serve” and because of the institution's perceived connection with the law, people often think they have a moral duty to comply with the commands, requests, and questions of police officers. The continuing killing of unarmed civilians by police and the Black Lives Matter movement call into question many of the most basic, traditional assumptions concerning the police.

    This module will compile a database concerning police interactions with civilians and critically analyze arguments covering a wide variety of conclusions related to police authority put forth by scholars, activists, and artists. We will largely focus on those that criticize mainstream conclusion that ordinary people are morally obligated to law enforcement. We will meet twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays 12-2pm (PT). Half of these meetings will be a large group discussion with every intern, and the other half will be a combination of small group sessions or individual research. Students might work on their projects outside normal meeting times in order to successfully complete the objectives.


    Meetings: Monday and Wednesdays, 1-3 pm. Zoom link has been sent to participants.

    Co-taught by Professor Monroe and Ben Hoyt, (grad student in Political Science at UCI with a specialization in political theory) and Jessica Gonzalez (grad student in Philosophy at UCI), with a specialization in moral cognition), this module focuses on moral courage in politics by showing you (1) how a literature review is constructed and (2) how to interpret narrative interviews. We will meet from 1-3 each Tuesday and Thursday with Professor Monroe, who will work with Ali to show you how to analyze interview data. Essentially, we will concentrate on interviews with people who risked their lives to further democracy (Janusz Reykowski in Poland and Sophal Ear in Cambodia) and justice (Nini, a young woman your age) during the Holocaust). These interviews have been completed and are available here.

    Beyond this, Jessica will work with students on a literature review suggesting how the way we think about politics leads to our political positions with, ironically, political polarization arising when a political issue is conceptualized as a moral issue. This relates closely to the decrease in civility and the desire to compromise on political issues.

    Ben and I will be teaching you how to do a narrative interpretive analysis, which is described in the Appendix of The Hand of Compassion (Princeton U Press, 2004) and which illustrates how we do such an interpretation of stories people tell. Again: It is not necessary to view this material in advance. We note it only because so many of you have asked about the program details. We will use the completed analysis of the Reykowski, Ear and Nini interviews to demonstrate how to analyze narrative interviews. We then examine two people who are considered patriots by some and traitors by others: Edgar Snowdon and Daniel Ellsberg. Finally, we turn to courage and betrayal in the age of Trump to examine (1) prominent Republicans (Senator Mitt Romney and Congresswoman Liz Cheney) who voted against their president during his impeachment, (2) the Lincoln Project (a group of Republicans who actively engaged to oust the president they had initially supported), and a (3) variety of individuals involved in the 2020 election, an election viewed by many as “stolen” and by an equally large/slightly larger group of individuals as one that the sitting president tried to steal. Students will be taught how to collect data analyzing each of these people and why they did the courageous/contentious acts that brings them to our attention.

    Please click HERE for the Interview Data for the Resilience Project.



Navigating Ethics and Morality in the Modern Era: Results from the 2021 Summer Internship Program








UCI Ethics Center - Summer Internship Testimonial Summer 2021




Working Paper

 Sexual Violence and the Shifting Faces of Feminism in the Age of #MeToo and Donald Trump



During the 2020 Summer Internship at the Ethics Center, I studied about moral courage on historical and current figures. I really enjoyed the internship because it was challenging as well as interesting simultaneously. It was challenging to read about Aristotle’s ancient interpretation about moral courage but was intriguing to see how our perceptions of morality and courage have shifted over time. My favorite part was studying about the moral dilemma around Dr. Fauci and Dr. Rick Bright during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though both of them are scientists, they were entangled by the politicized pandemic response. The topic was complex whereas my mentor was ready to help and always encouraged and directed me to try harder and try a different way. I love how my mentor Professor Kristen Monroe always raised new questions during every meeting and expect us to look for various explanations. In a nutshell, the most important lesson I have learnt is that it is crucial to view my research topics from a nonjudgmental perspective and to welcome ideas I like and dislike at the same time. Additionally, I find out that research is not as complicated as I used to expect and is an avenue for exploration into ourselves and societies.
– Anqi Wang
(2020 CEM summer intern)




We are always told “do the right thing”. But is it really that simple? The answer lies in our ethics, our decision making processes, our culture, and so much more.

I went on to discover my own answer to this question through the UCI Center for the Scientific Study of Ethics program. In module 4 we studied moral courage in times of despair. This opportunity to research moral courage led by Professor Kristen Monroe and Ben Hoyt gave me the opportunity to further understand what sparks courage among individuals, specifically researching times where Senators Mitt Romney and Jeff Flake have taken a public stand and spoken out against their party. As an intern, I was assigned to the research study of moral courage in liberal democracies. I collaborated with other students to collect data through analyzing legal testimonies, interviews, social media, and editorials.

I began by exploring literature for findings of moral courage and the differences that exist for elected officials and party officials. My research started far before the founding of the Republic: Athenian democracy in Ancient Greece. Together with my fellow interns, we compiled our findings into a paper that was based on acts of moral courage where politicians placed principle over party loyalty and the implications of their actions. Compiling modern congressional records and news articles discussing the fallout showed me that these acts require courage and confidence in one’s beliefs. At its core, it became clear that moral courage is connected with one’s personal values of integrity, authenticity, and truthfulness, and is triggered by the circumstances people find themselves in. Integrity is as unique as those that possess it.

When the internship on module 4 was completed, Professor Monroe and a small group of us interns went on to research COVID and the outcomes and differences in public compliance in various locations. Our research led us to discover the political influence of COVID and medical advice in relation to public compliance. The outcomes differed between states and countries but ultimately, the successful countries had strong collectivist civic cultures.

Through this experience, I learned more than I could have imagined about empirical research conducted at the university level. I had a pleasure working with Mr. Hoyt and Professor Monroe. However, the lesson I will carry with me in my personal life is about people. I had the opportunity to learn how to analyze behavior that is deeply personal and draw conclusions that can be applied to our society as a whole. My hope is that by studying moral courage and helping define what leads to courageous acts, that this research can inspire it in all of us.
– Lauren O’Neill
(2020 CEM summer intern)



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