UT Sends 2024 Embedded Scholars to Latin America

UT’s Embedded Scholars program is sending its 2024 cohort to Latin America later this month to support democracy and electoral assistance programs this summer. With 64 countries—eight in Latin America alone—holding elections this year, amid rising polarization and democratic challenges, the stakes are high for national and international actors working to promote free and fair elections and robust democracy.

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Fellows Share Research on Participation, Culture, and Democratic Resilience

The 2024 fellows conducted research this spring on a range of pressing challenges and opportunities for democracies today. Students shared their research this week, giving presentations on the role of public participation, civic and constitutional culture, and democratic resilience in preserving and advancing democracy.

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Fellows Share Research on Disinformation and Backsliding

In their internship class this spring, the 2024 fellows conducted research on key challenges facing democracies today. Their research assessed current findings on these challenges globally and the sociopolitical, legal, and constitutional dynamics shaping these issues in Latin America. Today, students presented their research on disinformation in elections and democratic disaffection and backsliding.

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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.

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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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A research exchange program at the University of Texas at Austin supporting student work abroad in democratic institutional development