Summer Centered: Kirsten Mullin ’19 Studies "The Troubles" in Belfast
In Belfast, Northern Ireland, the political science major is interning at the Center for the Study of Ethnic Conflict.
Europe, with its sandy beaches, savory food, and stunning historical sites, has always been a popular summer vacation destination for American students. Sponsored by the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, Kirsten Mullin ’19, however, is there to work rather than play. As an intern for the Center for the Study of Ethnic Conflict, an academic research facility located in Belfast, she’s exploring recent episodes in the history of the United Kingdom—namely, “the Troubles," the euphemism given to the guerrilla war fought between the Irish Republican Army and the joint alliance of British government and Union Volunteer Force for much of the 20th century.
And she couldn’t have found a better place to do so than Belfast, which was known as the “Ground Zero” of the conflict. She sought out this internship opportunity after wanderlust brought to her the city for the first time last year as a tourist.
While studying abroad at University College Dublin in Ireland this past fall, the political science major with a concentration in international relations and an economics minor, “took a spontaneous weekend trip up to Belfast.”
“There,” she says, “I took a political history tour which walked me through the history of the 'the Troubles.' I found the peace process in Belfast to be very interesting and wanted to learn more, so I emailed Dr. Timofey Agarin, the head of the Center, and after a few conversations he agreed that I could complete a summer internship here.”
Established by Queen’s University Belfast in January of 1998, the Center is relatively new—younger than Mullin herself, in fact---but its reputation already far exceeds its age. The leading place in the United Kingdom and Ireland for the study of the politics of Northern Ireland, it boasts “more staff engaged in research on this [issue] than in any other third-level institution in Ireland or anywhere else.”
“My work here mainly involves editing Dr. Agarin's [forthcoming] book and reviewing submissions for the Center’s journal, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics,” Mullin says. “Both tasks have… helped me fine-tune my interests a bit more.”
That fine-tuning has taken the form of a slight change in post-graduation plans. Though Mullin still eventually plans to pursue a master’s degree in international relations, she’s enjoying the “independent and self-driven” nature of her internship so much that she’s leaning towards “continuing on the research path” for a few years after college.
“My summer with Dr. Agarin has helped introduce me to the world of academia a bit,” says the women’s varsity lacrosse team member, “and I think that [working in that field] would be a great way to strengthen my communications skills and gain expertise in an area of interest before I go to graduate school.”
“Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ Center-funded summer work.