Alec Armon & Research Abroad in Chile

Alec Armon is an IS Major undergraduate currently enrolled at UW-Madison that has received funding for a research project in Chile. We asked Alec to give us a brief description of this exciting project:

“My research project is focused on the implementation of social policy in Chile. I am looking specifically at the ways social workers have been an ever-present and versatile actor in social assistance programs in Chile over the past century. Additionally, my thesis aims to compare the historical use of social workers by the Chilean government with their deployment in a contemporary poverty alleviation project called conditional cash transfer. Conditional cash transfer is a type of poverty alleviation program present in many countries around the world set out to build human capital in a country by giving cash benefits to families on the condition that they send their children to school and take them to the doctor. In Chile’s version of this program, the government assigns participating families a social worker, which is a rare feature not seen in other conditional cash transfer programs worldwide. I am attempting to explain why these figures might be employed in this way today based on their historical involvement in government initiatives. To do this I will travel to Chile during winter break to spend time in various archives reviewing publications by the Chilean government and the various schools of social work there.”

“I initially became involved with this topic in my sophomore year when I wrote a research paper on Chilean conditional cash transfer. The following year I went to Chile where I studied political science for two semesters. Over the course of my studies in Chile, I came across literature that talked about the historical involvement of social workers in social reforms, and I was reminded of this unique figure employed in Chilean conditional cash transfer. I thought exploring this connection would be a great way for me to combine my interests in social policy, international studies, and Chile, so I decided I would pursue it as a senior thesis through the International Studies Major.”

Alec is a recipient of the Mensink and Trewartha grants awarded through the L& S Honors Program. He is also a recipient of The International Studies Major Student Conference Travel and Undergraduate Research Award.

“I am grateful to the Mensink and Trewartha families, as well as International Studies, for allowing me to go back to Chile to carry out this research. I am fortunate to have the guidance of Professor Stephen Young and the support of the L&S Honors Program.”

These generous grants are allowing students like Alec to conduct amazing research in their unique areas of interest. Alec is just one of many IS students doing incredible things here at UW!

Congratulations, Alec!


Interview conducted by IS Communications Intern, Jacob Schleusner