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Beyond Good Intentions

Working to Affect Change

Senior Political Science major Lindsey Walker lives by her motto: Move Beyond Good Intentions. Whether she is researching how foreign aid affects countries or hosting a banquet to raise funds and awareness for educational disparities among social classes, Lindsey embodies this phrase and makes a difference in how the world runs.

With a thesis titled “The Effects of CSR on Attitudes toward Outward and Inward FDI: A Cross National Comparison of Citizen Perceptions within the US and Kenya” Lindsey had a lot of explaining to do to catch us up. CSR is an acronym for Corporate Social Responsibility which is when businesses try to do good in the world through actions like offering fair wages, building schools, or giving basketballs to impoverished youth like Nike does. FDI stands for foreign direct investment, and this occurs when where a business establishes an office in another country to create jobs and directly invest in that country. Lindsey is looking at how CSR changes how people view FDI both in the country investing the money (outward) and the country receiving the aid (inward). Typically, FDI is viewed unfavorably. Outward attitudes reflect the loss of jobs in the home country while inward attitudes focus on the environmental effects and unequal wages established by FDI. However, through survey analysis, Lindsey sees interesting trends when other types of CSR accompany FDI. When companies engage in other types of CSR, people did not care about jobs being sent to other countries and people were less inclined to complain about environmental effects. Lindsey compared survey responses from 2000 Americans and 2000 Kenyans since American companies engage in CSR interactions and FDI with Kenya. In preliminary results, an increase in CSR did not improve the Kenyans’ favorability of America but if any type of aid was received, Kenyans’ favorability of their own country decreased. These preliminary findings show a striking trend with how aid affects a country.

This research began with Lindsey applying to a Global Politics Lab Fellowship with Dr. Celeste Beesley in the Political Science Department. After proposing the research topic, she was selected as a Fellow, and she has been working on the process ever since.

Before working with Dr. Beesley, Lindsey started learning research skills working with Dr. Darrin Hawkins. She participated in his research class in her freshman year and subsequently helped him create a website that summarizes academic journal articles to make them more accessible. The golden standard of Political Science is randomized control trials (RCT) and articles about them are often messy and full of jargon. The website is meant to make the important data in these articles more available for policy makers in locations in Latin America to encourage evidence use in policy proposals.

When she isn't researching, Lindsey works hands-on to understand where she is needed in the field of international development. For the last two summers, Lindsey has participated in a remote internship through a CSR agricultural school in Malawi. NuSkin provided scholarships to families to attend this school and the interns are using RCTs to analyze how effective these scholarships are at helping the families.

On February 25th this year, Lindsey helped to host the Hunger Banquet on campus as the President of the Students in International Development organization. This was the 31st Hunger Banquet at BYU and the theme was Lindsey’s motto, “Moving Beyond Good Intentions.” At the banquet, guests are assigned a social class and their meal reflects this class. If they are a lower class, they sat on blankets and ate beans, rice, and tortillas. If they were middle class, the meal consisted of Aloha Plate and the setting was tables and chairs. If they were the few students designated for upper class, they were served a 5-course meal on fine dishes. During the banquet, entertainers danced traditional Bolivian ballets, Irish folk routines, and Polynesian dances. There were two speakers. One touched on how they created an organization in Africa to sell products made by the locals to global markets. The other talked about his experience as a refugee from Kenya attending an NGO school. All proceeds from the event went to Co-Africa, an organization dedicated to building schools in Africa. Lindsey helped to select this organization and she was impressed that they wanted to use the money to hire a program evaluator to see how effective their schools were and where they could improve.

Between her research and her leadership. Lindsey is truly showing an example of moving beyond good intentions to actually make changes in the world. She is continuing her pursuit for change in the Fall when she begins her joint MPA/JD program here at BYU. After graduating from those programs, she hopes to work in nonprofit management for international development. In the meantime, she is looking forward to graduation in June, a summer filled with darling nieces and nephews, and lots of volleyball, basketball, and golf.