Bachelor and Master Theses
The thesis gives you an opportunity to dive into one topic you are passionate about. If we have topics or questions to assign, we will post them here. In general, however, we ask you to come up with your own topic and discuss it with us. We supervise 4 to 5 theses for each submission date (Feb., May, Aug., Nov.) and give priority to topics with a clear link to Political Theory and/or, International Relations, or to any of our ongoing research projects described on these pages.
To reach out to us, you can email us a sketch of 3 to 4 pages. You should lay our your central question (What do you wish to find out?), a rough description of the state of research (What do we know about the answer thus far?) and your ideas for a research design (What do you plan to do to answer your question?).
The Climate Crisis
Politics in a Digital Society
The Fridays for Future movement may be new, but social movements aren’t. What, therefore, does prior research on transnational social movements teach us about the prospects of this movement? What makes movement success possible, what prevents it, and how do the Fridays for Future fare against such criteria ? In addition, what kinds of institutions does “climate justice”, properly understood, demand? What is the specific responsibility of universities and research communities in addressing global warming? And, from a thoroughly reconstructed normative perspective, could the popular argument that Switzerland does not have any obligations because it is so small ever be convincing?
Does algorithmic decision-making come with more benefits and/or less risks in some areas of social and political choice than in others? How, where and why does the rise of digital technology challenge basic political concepts like “power”, “liberty”, “justice” or “politics” itself? What do novel concepts like “surveillance capitalism” help or hinder us to see, grasp and make sense of? How, by whom and at what scale may regulation help us to achieve basic social and political goals in economies and societies that rely on increasingly digital infrastructures and means of communication? And, more fundamentally still, how does digitalization affect our ideas about what constitutes a “good life” or a “good society” as well as our prospects for realizing such ideas?
What does economic, political and/or cultural globalization mean “on the ground”? How can we make sense of the patterns of institutional responses to economic globalization we observe in specific or different issue areas of global governance? What difference do private transnational standards (e.g. eco-labels) make? How do international organizations respond to the legitimation challenges many of them face? And, more fundamentally still, what visions of a “good international order” – including, but not limited to ideas about “global justice”, “global democracy” or “basic human rights” – can guide our thinking about how to re-imagine and re-organize politics in times of globalization.
Global Power Shifts
Thinking about Thinkers (and/or Ideas)
With China, India and Brazil rising quickly, the post-war international order faces fundamental challenges. How do international institutions respond to these challenges? How do state coalitions in international institutions change as a result of them? And what makes some international institutions adapt more quickly than others? Our own research focuses on the imprint global power shifts leave on international norms of differentiation between “North” and “South”, but there are certainly other questions that deserve attention.
In the common rush of teaching and learning at HSG, we rarely find time to engage thoroughly with either individual political thinkers (like Hannah Arendt) or specific ideas (like the “public sphere”). The thesis offers a chance to do just that, so if you are keen to obtain a deeper understanding of one or two writers and/or their ideas, feel free to get in touch. Most of us have a stronger interest in more recent political theory (let’s say, from Max Weber to today), but you can also try to convince us that it would be useful to write your BIA or MIA thesis on Kant, Hegel or Marx.