MA Graduate – Class of 2016

Rachael RistauIn recent years, my passion has revolved around helping individuals cope with grief after the loss of a loved one through a project I founded in 2009, the Fayetteville Memory Garden. The project was built in the form of a garden in 2011 and now serves as a setting of reflection for community members.

While I still serve on the Board of Directors, my interests broadened as I pursued my undergraduate degree at Wells College in psychology and business management. Through academics, experiences abroad, and experiential learning, I cultivated a new love for learning about public affairs and global governance, which I am excited to study further. Aside from my interest in community service I have a love for travel, art, and meeting new people.

Research Interests

I focus on why/how an individual’s actions can be influenced by authority despite prior moral beliefs and values; how they justify taking part in unethical practices, such as Hitler fanatics in Nazi Germany, was a question I found myself contemplating often while studying in Berlin. In future research, I will explore how we can apply what has been learned from historical events and psychological research in regards to reducing the influence authoritative figures have over followers in the workplace and society as well as prevent such crimes of obedience from occurring. For example, such activities as we have seen in Enron and the mortgage industry, can have drastically negative effects on employees, customers, the company, and society in general. Factors include instilling a community culture among employees, being mindful of linguistic rhetoric, and empowering employees to feel a sense of personal responsibility and obligation. Beyond the workplace, it is necessary to consider how these strategies can be positively utilized by leaders with the goal of instilling values of global citizenship and ethical behavior in each community member.

Following my completion of the MA in Global Thought I will most likely work towards completing a second MA degree at Syracuse University in Public Affairs. I hope to pursue a career that allows me to be an agent of positive change in communities and furthermore help solve crises on a global scale.

MA Thesis

“A New Means for Market Optimization: Empathize with your Enterprise, Surpassing the Insufficiencies of Top-Down Management in a Global Setting through Practicing Corporate Empathy”


  • BA, Psychology and Management, Wells College, 2012-2015