Chantelle Mendonsa  (AS ’15) completed her Capstone, Structural Impediments to Progress: Iran 2009 & 1979, in political science. Prof. Mehrzad Boroujerdi served as her advisor.

Chantelle compared the methods and characteristics of both the 1979 and 2009 movements in Iran. According to the scholars Chenoweth and Stephan, the main factor for success is the quantity and quality of participation. These authors judge success by the attainment of prescribed goals within the first year of the resistance. Chantelle used the scholarly work of Levitsky and Way to critique their work and to discuss alternative reasons for the failure of the movement.structural flow of distribution of power layed out in Iranian Constitution

While both the Green Movement and the 1979 Revolution meet successful factors, the Green Movement is considered a failure in light of its goals. In order to explain this failure, Chantelle asserts the regime’s strengths were bolstered by various factions, which include the constitutional framework, system of “velayat-e faqih”, and the structural triumvirate between the Supreme Leader, Guardian Council, and Revolutionary Guards (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, thereby, making it impermeable to the actions of the resistance.

Chantelle synthesized the work of many scholars to generate her own analysis of a complicated political movement, and this method is reflected strongly in her advice:

Pick a topic early! Make sure you can gain access to the right sources and that you have a theoretical framework with which to analyze your work at the very beginning. Write many, many drafts, but don’t send too many to your advisers. One thing I learned is to never take a less controversial stance because you are worried your advisers will think it is ludicrous. Every position is ludicrous without evidence, and every position with strong evidence seems plausible.

Most importantly, ask for help if you need it, be open to criticism, and be ready to work hard.Iran remembers 1979 photo of street crowd