2024 Fellows Start Democracy Course

The 2024 Embedded Scholars started their class this spring to prepare for their work with International IDEA on democracy assistance programs. In Summer 2024, the ten UT students selected for the Embedded Scholars fellowship will work in International IDEA’s office in Latin America, supporting a range of democracy and electoral assistance programs.

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Video Diary: Day in the Life of Fellows in Panama

UT Fellow Matthew Martin and International IDEA provide a video tour of a day in the life of fellows working for International IDEA in Panama. Matt discusses his work analyzing constitutional performance and takes us on their visit to the National Archives of Panama, exploring the political and cultural history of Panama.

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Understanding Political Risk

By Frances Parra

As my time in Panama came to an end, I was tasked with the professional culmination of my internship, as well as the goodbyes to the place and people I called home for the entirety of the summer. My research for International IDEA had explored topics such as political risk, governance, and foreign policy in Latin American countries. Although my primary focus was Latin America, my investigations delved into the foreign relations of Latin American countries with regions around the world, including Asia, Europe, and North America. Overall, it sought to understand these topics as they pertain to democratic governance and society in Latin America today and in the future.

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Chilean Constitution Drafting

By Guillermo Pérez

My experience during the internship was wonderful for multiple reasons. First and foremost, working with a prestigious organization like International IDEA is a privilege. The research projects, the opportunities for influence, and the constant dialogue with political authorities in the country are extremely important for strengthening democracy. Earlier in the summer, we had the opportunity to participate in a seminar organized by IDEA on the Chilean constitutional process. In that seminar, international experts such as Adam Chilton, Lisa Hilbink, and David Landau shared their reflections on the Chilean constitutional proposal. There were also dialogues between the constitutional experts who proposed the draft constitution and the members of the Constitutional Council that reviewed and approved the final version.

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IDEA & Electoral Tribunal Share UT Student Work in Latin America

The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) and the Institute of Democratic Studies (INED) at the Electoral Tribunal of Panama released a video sharing the work of University of Texas students who interned with them in Summer 2023 as part of the UT Government Department’s Embedded Scholars program.

In the video below, IDEA Panama Project Manager Carlos González and INED Director Salvador Sánchez share the work of the Summer 2023 interns. González also invites UT students to apply to the 2024 cohort, noting “We are waiting for you to continue contributing to democracy in and from Panama.”

International IDEA and the Institute of Democratic Studies share the work of UT students who supported their election and constitutional programs as interns in Summer 2023.

In Summer 2023, nine undergraduate and graduate students from the University of Texas at Austin worked on varied democracy assistance projects at International IDEA’s Regional Office for Latin America and its country offices in Chile and Panama. Those in Panama also worked directly with INED and the Electoral Tribunal of Panama in preparing for the country’s 2024 elections. Those in Chile also participated in IDEA’s work supporting the Chilean constitution drafting process.

While the Embedded Scholars program is based in the UT Department of Government, it aims to engage students from across UT in the multifaceted work of democracy assistance. Interns in Summer 2023 were from the Department of Government, Department of Mathematics, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, International Relations and Global Studies, LBJ School of Public Affairs, McCombs School of Business, and Plan II Honors Program.

Learn more about their work on a range of election, political, and constitutional projects in the video above!

Comms, Elections, and Personal Transformation

By Adriel Bustillos

Embarking on an internship with International IDEA in Panama City was been a remarkable and transformative experience. Over the course of my time in Panama, I had the opportunity to contribute to vital projects, including designing new communications materials for IDEA’s regional work and conducting research on elections and runoff processes in Latin American and Caribbean countries. Beyond professional growth, the internship also allowed me to immerse myself in the vibrant Panamanian culture and expand my horizons. The overall experience gave me a new sense of learning, but one that will always be held close to my heart in years to come.

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AI, Social Media, and Democracy

By Tien Vo

I recently graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with degrees in government and math. This summer I got to work with International IDEA through an internship organized by the UT Government Department and two amazing professors, Ashley Moran and Zachary Elkins. It is a newly developed internship program to study democratic institutional development in Latin America, and it has been an honor being one of the students chosen to participate in this program.

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The State of Democracy in Latin America

By Francisco Alvarado-Quiroz

What we know collectively as “Latin America” contains, depending on whom you ask and how you count, some 21-plus countries. The landscapes contain high-altitude cities, untouched jungles, and beautiful beaches. While you could get away communicating in Spanish throughout most of the region, there are an uncountable number of languages and dialects.

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Election Preparation in Panama

By Kaitlin Passafiume

After my return from Panama, I am full of reflections about my time spent there working with International IDEA and its partners at the Institute for Democratic Studies (INED). My final month working in these capacities was different from the first, as it was more hands on and largely interactive. In the first portion of my internship, I worked in a largely independent way, developing memos that analyzed youth voting programs across Latin America. In the last half of my internship, I was very much part of a team.

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A research exchange program at the University of Texas at Austin dedicated to democratic institutional development