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

Jacques DeLisle
Penn Law

Eileen Doherty-Sil
The Lauder Institute

Ann Farnsworth-Alvear
Department of History

Fernando Ferreira
Real Estate Department, The Wharton School

Reto Gieré
Department of Earth and Environmental Science

Julia Gray
Political Science Department

Jennifer Hasty
Department of Anthropology

Witold Henisz
The Wharton School

Stephen Lane
Department of Computer and Information Science

Mireia Lizandra
Independent International Sports Consultant

Ecaterina Locoman
The Lauder Institute

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

Stephen Sammut
The Wharton School

Sudev Sheth
The Lauder Institute

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.

Research Locations

Student team research projects have taken place in the following locations:  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

Latest News

For her Master’s thesis, Breanne White is completing an individual paper that studies how different countries are using nature therapy to promote wellness among their populations, with a specific focus on forest bathing and nature therapy in Singapore and Finland.  Pictures show: (1) Breanne on a dogsled tour in Lapland, Finland; (2) Visiting with Lauder alum, Elan Cohen (W’89, G’94, WG’94), and his family in Singapore; (3) Visiting with Lauder alum, Patrik Sallner (G’99, WG’99), in Helsinki, Finland.

Posted 3/17/2022

One Global Knowledge Lab team from the Class of 2022 is researching how the behaviors of fashion companies have evolved in response to the rise of sustainability. How can firms support sustainable practices today? To collect evidence and answer these questions, Vicky Chen traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana, where she met and interviewed flea market expert, Cree McCree. Fellow team members Meagan Murphy, Carla Domenech, and Christina Wang traveled to San Marcos, Guatemala, where they visited local textile markets looking at the artisanal efforts in the country to support sustainability. The team is also studying the fashion industry’s sustainable practices in Sweden, conducting virtual interviews with Swedish companies.

Posted 3/10/2022

GKL Prizewinners 2022

Winner: Kristen Meredith, Grandes Écoles, Made Accessible: The Expansion of Socioeconomic and Ethnic Diversity Within Elite French Higher Education
Advisors: Dr. Domenic Vitiello and Dr. Ecaterina Locoman

First Runner-Up: Michael Ravitsky, Does Cryptocurrency Provide an Avenue Through Which the Private Sector can Address the Problem of Unbanked Individuals in Post-Soviet Eurasia?
Advisors: Dr. Ann Farnsworth Alvear and Dr. Stephen Sammut

Second Runner-Up: Megan Murphy, For Unionizing to be Heard: Divergent Approaches to Labor Advocacy in Mexico and Argentina.
Advisors: Dr. Denise Dahlhoff and Dr. Ecaterina Locoman

Complete list of Prizewinners.

Student Research Snapshot

GKL and Careers

Learn how Lauder alum Louis Gilbert’s (G’19, WG’19) GKL project propelled him to a dream-role at the NHL here.

GKL Inspired Books & Examples

Contact Us

For more information, contact:

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