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Welcome to the Lauder Institute Global Knowledge Lab

How It Works

Instead of a traditional thesis, all Lauder students fulfill the research and writing requirement for their MA by completing a team-based paper and an individual paper known collectively as the Global Knowledge Lab (GKL). Extending over 20 months, the GKL is the vehicle through which each Lauder student is expected to demonstrate the ability to conduct master’s degree level research in the social sciences or humanities, and often on cutting edge topics of interest to policymakers, non-government organizations, and the business community. Students additionally illustrate mastery of their program of concentration through their use of target language, intercultural awareness, and research topic.

In preparation for research, the Lauder Institute provides training to students in comparative analysis, research design, as well as secondary and primary research methodology. In addition, we have a dedicated faculty member who oversees the GKL, including student training, design of student milestones, student performance, and faculty advisor recruiting.

Each student team of 4 persons has two faculty advisors who collectively guide and evaluate student research on both the individual and team-based papers. Faculty advisors also assess and advise on matters of research scope, methodology, and feasibility. Students with faculty advisor-approved research designs are eligible for a research stipend in support of their team paper field research. Students select their team members, as well as their team and individual GKL paper topics.

For the team-based paper, students often work in a group with membership from different programs of concentration to facilitate comparative cross-regional analysis on a topic of mutual interest. GKL teams are formed at the start of the first semester of a student’s first full academic year. Students remain within these teams until final completion of their team GKL paper in their second year.

For the individual paper, region-centered program of concentration students are required to focus on a topic within their region. Global program of concentration students are expected to focus on a cross-regional topic or to select a topic related to a global institution or a global phenomenon.

The Language Component

The GKL also provides students with a venue to further enhance and demonstrate competency in their target language. In the past, students have had the opportunity to design surveys, conduct interviews, and well as gather library materials in their target language. Past students studying Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish, for example, worked together to investigate the intercultural aspects of changing consumer patterns in Latin America, Russia, and China. Other teams have made use of their language skills to explore the drivers of entrepreneurial ecosystems, the success of public health policies, as well as the intersection between social norms and socially acceptable forms of humor around the world.

GKL Faculty Advisors

GKL faculty advisors are drawn from across the university, with each student having one advisor representing Wharton or the Law School and the other from the School of Arts & Sciences or another appropriate School of the University (e.g., Engineering, Education, or Design). Advisors are assigned to student teams early in their first semester of their academic year and meet regularly with students to monitor their progress and to suggest bibliographic and other resources needed to deepen student knowledge. They help students define questions and research methodologies, refine hypotheses, and select appropriate research sites and interviewees for the summer research trips. The following faculty, among others, have served as GKL advisors:

Regina Abrami
The Lauder Institute

Balkan Osman
The Lauder Institute & Swarthmore College

Janet Chrzan
Department of Anthropology & Nursing

Stephanie Dick
History and Sociology of Science Department

Eileen Doherty-Sil
Political Science Department

Ann Farnsworth-Alvear
Department of History

Julia Gray
Political Science Department

Mauro Guillén
The Wharton School

Jennifer Hasty
Department of Anthropology

Witold Henisz
The Wharton School

Mireia Lizandra
Independent International Sports Consultant

Joao Neiva de Figueiredo
Saint Joseph’s University & The Wharton School

Stephen Sammut
The Wharton School

Joseph Westphal
The Lauder Institute

Research Topics

Student team-based research topics are wide-ranging, but broadly fall into the following categories: Culture & Consumption, Comparative Corporate Governance, Entrepreneurship & Economic Development, The Comparative Politics of Gender, Race & Sexual Orientation, Global Small Business Development, Global Supply Chains Industrial Policy and Geopolitical Competition, Informal Economies and Economic Development, New Energy and the Environment, New Tech Start-ups, Patterns of Foreign Direct Investment, Social and Economic Inequality, and Trade & Development.

Student individual GKL research topics are equally diverse. Faculty advisors nominate the very highest quality papers for the Lauder Institute’s “Reginald H. Jones Research Prize.” Nominated papers are blind-reviewed by a committee representative of faculty from the Wharton School and the School of Arts and Sciences.

GKL Prizewinners

Class of 2020

Research Prize Winner
James Juchau, Les Oubliés: North African Soldiers Fighting for the French Army in World War II

First Runner-up
Danielle Cerepnalkovic, Women at the Top: A Comparative Study of Corporate Board Gender Quotas in France and Spain

Second Runner-up
Second runner-up: Tyler Wigington, Narco-Trafficking in Colombia: Drawing on the Past for a Modern Path Forward

Complete list of Prizewinners.

GKL Inspired Books & Examples

GKL Team Research Destinations

Angola, Argentina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Easter Island, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, France, Germany, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Liberia, Madagascar, Malta, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Netherlands, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, North Korea, Oman, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Tahiti, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam

Contact Us

For more information, contact

Dr. Ecaterina Locoman
Senior Lecturer, Department of Political Science
Faculty Lead, The Global Knowledge Lab
The Lauder Institute

The Joseph H. Lauder Institute
256 South 37th street
2nd Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6330