Project Description: 

The global demand for rare earth elements (REEs) is rising rapidly. Rare earth elements and their compounds are used in a broad range of applications, including "green" technologies required for decarbonization. To counter China’s near-monopoly in the global market for REEs, many national governments and investors are looking to diversify their supply not only within their domestic territories, but also in regions like Africa. Observers have identified eastern and southern Africa as a “hotbed of critical mineral mining,” and rare earths as the "new oil" of the 21st century.

This research project is concerned with the social, ethical, and environmental implications of rare earth elements (REE) mining in Tanzania. The study is situated in southwestern Tanzania, where the national government and an Australian firm have recently signed a deal to construct the nation’s first mine for the extraction of neodymium-praseodymium (NdPr), materials required for making electric vehicles and wind turbines.

Following a preliminary site visit in Fall 2022, Professor Chung has conducted the first round of ethnographic fieldwork in Fall 2023. She is seeking an undergraduate research assistant to support the initial processing and analysis of interview data using a qualitative data analysis software, ATLAS.ti. The interviews cover topics including, but not limited to, villagers' current livelihoods, resource access/use, interactions with and perceptions of the mining company/project (anticipations and concerns), and future outlooks. 

Undergraduate's Role: 

The undergraduate student will be expected to:

  • Undergo basic training on coding and ATLAS.ti 
  • Clean up interview transcripts to increase readability (approximately 30)
  • Review interview transcripts manually and pre-code for keywords and phrases
  • Develop a coding scheme (general and subcategory of codes) using ATLAS.ti
  • Analyze the coded interviews for emerging patterns, themes, and concepts using ATLAS.ti
  • Create a map or network of codes using ATLAS.ti
Undergraduate's Qualifications: 
  • Prior coursework on social and environmental justice related topics (e.g. ESPM/ENERES C124, ESPM/ENERES C176, ESPM  149, ESPM 168, ESPM 163AC, ESPM 155AC)
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently and learn quickly 
  • Strong organizational and communication skills
  • High aptitude for detail-oriented work
  • Trustworthiness in handling confidential data
  • Prior experience with qualitative data analysis and with ATLAS.ti or other similar software (e.g. NVivo) is desired but not required
To be negotiated
Project URL: