March 12, 2021
UCalgary Political Science Congratulates: Christopher Knoch!
Best Political Science Honours Thesis Prize is for the best undergraduate Honours Thesis in the Department of Political Science, open to any area of Political Science.
Christopher Knoch’s Honours thesis was written under the supervision of, and nominated by, Dr. Kim-Lee Tuxhorn.
Dr. Kim-Lee Tuxhorn, tell us what made Christopher’s Honours thesis stand out?
Chris’s thesis incorporates a series of innovative research steps. Notably, his research question highlights interesting variation in internal (domestic) trade policies, a variation that has been largely overlooked in the existing trade literature. Chris creatively adapts an existing political economy explanation of trade policy to the domestic market. And finally, Chris wrote excellent case study chapters comparing the internal trade policies of Canada and Australia. He developed new quantitative measures of internal trade protectionism for the thesis and combined them with in-depth qualitative analysis. Overall, it was an outstanding thesis and one worthy of an award.
Christopher Knoch, what was your Honour thesis’ title and can you give us a brief description of its main findings or arguments?
The title of my thesis was “Homogeneity & Internal Trade: Why do Some Countries Possess Greater Intranational Protectionism than Others?” I wanted to explain why in many countries, and particularly in federations, we see significant trade barriers between regions despite their obvious economic costs. To find out, I looked at two cases in more depth, Canada and Australia, both of which have similar government structures but approach internal trade very differently. I discovered that in Canada there was more similarity in the types of industries and what they produce, especially in manufacturing where competition is often harmful. Canada also had more barriers than Australia, leading me to believe that the similarity allows industries to better lobby governments for restrictions. Ultimately, I found that when protectionist industries are more similar, regional governments are also more likely to advocate for them by imposing barriers, even when the public would otherwise prefer free trade.
Any tips on writing an excellent Honours thesis?
It comes down to your topic. I think it is important to look at your interests and consider what questions the current research lacks or perhaps has overlooked and investigate those. This allows you to offer a more significant contribution to the field and be more creative in how you approach your research. I would also recommend starting this process early. Scheduling time to sit and think about your topic and how you may want to investigate it is time-consuming and best done well in advance.
What are your plans for the future?
I hope to begin a Master of Arts program in either political science or international affairs in the fall of 2021. After that, I would like to work in an organization such as the Trade Commissioner Service or Export Development Canada, using my background in political economy to help expand Canadian trade and investment links abroad.
Congratulations to Christopher Knoch on your 2019–20 Prize for Best Political Science Honours Thesis!