History majors explore research interests in Asia

Author: Arts and Letters

One examined South Korea’s relationship with the United States during a tumultuous movement toward democracy in South Korea in the 1970s. The other investigated how Chinese white-collar and factory workers are changing their views of the reigning Communist Party.

Seung-Jae “David” Oh ’16 and Matt Souza ’16 in Notre Dame’s Department of History received funding to conduct independent research in South Korea and China, respectively, in summer 2015.

They were among 135 students awarded more than $260,000 in Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program grants in 2015-16 through the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts.

The program provides financial support to Notre Dame students for independent research, creative projects, or presenting research at conferences.



Oh’s research at the Diplomatic Archives of Korea allowed him to gain a better understanding of the bilateral relationship between South Korea and the United States.

His findings informed a senior thesis on a movement for democracy between 1979 and 1983 that clashed with South Korea’s authoritarian government.

“The Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program at Notre Dame afforded me this opportunity to really delve into a topic that I’m interested in,” Oh said. “I hope this experience is a springboard toward either further research or further study.”



Souza, a history and political science major, received a grant to interview laborers in multiple Chinese cities. For his senior thesis, he sought to determine whether the official ideology of the Communist Party is still influential among Chinese citizens.

What he found was striking.

“All of my findings, they’re actually quite different from all the previous research, and I really want to get my ideas and all my findings out to the public,” he said.

In addition to providing funding, the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts helped Souza plan his research.

“They helped me navigate the process, helped me find contacts, and also provided suggestions in terms of research tactics,” he said. “I’m really grateful to the program.”