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International Relations Major Awarded SURF Grant

CONWAY, Ark. (December 16, 2013) –Kyle Wicks, a junior international relations major from Conway, was recently awarded a Student Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) by the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.

The SURF award, valued at $1,250, will support his project “Conflict and Connectivity,” which will be his senior thesis topic as well.

Wicks will study the impact of Internet access on social revolutions. The project is motivated, in part, by the events of the Arab Spring and the impact that Facebook and Twitter had in helping dissatisfied citizens organize to effectively challenge authoritarian leaders across the region. He plans to perform both statistical analysis and conduct fieldwork research in Rwanda and Ghana with the support of SURF.

“The SURF fellowship will allow Kyle to travel to Ghana and Rwanda, two countries that have heavily improved their access to Internet technology in recent years,” said Hendrix politics and international relations professor Dr. Kiril Kolev, Wick’s academic advisor and research supervisor. “He will interview government officials to get their perspective on the role of Internet access on the ability of citizens to organize and push for greater political empowerment more effectively.”

Wicks was also selected to go on an Odyssey trip to Rwanda led by Hendrix politics and international relations professor Dr. Daniel Whelan, which will also contribute to his research efforts.

Founded in 1876, Hendrix College is a national leader in engaged liberal arts and sciences education. For the sixth consecutive year, Hendrix was named one of the country’s “Up and Coming” liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report.  Hendrix is featured in the latest edition of Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges, as well as the 2014 Princeton Review’s The Best 378 Colleges, Forbes magazine's list of America's Top Colleges, and the 2014 Fiske Guide to Colleges. Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. For more information, visit