Graduate Program

Political Science

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Ryan C. Hendrickson

Thesis Committee Member

Ryan P. Burge

Thesis Committee Member

David H. Carwell


The first term of George H.W. Bush's presidency saw an increase in governmentally distributed foreign aid unparalleled in United States' history. This increase came at time in which the debate over the practicality of foreign aid had never been higher amongst academics. Historically, there are two separate branches of research in the study of foreign aid. The first examines the effects of the practice, while the other investigates the determinants of foreign aid, namely which donors give to which recipients and why. This study is twofold in a sense that it touches on both topics.

This thesis analyzed President George W. Bush's HIV/AIDS foreign aid campaign in the early 2000s, the practicality of the current foreign aid system with a specific focus on American aid to central Africa, and the impact of Product RED, a "brand aid" initiative. First, this research suggests that Republicans most heavily supported increased aid in the 2000s, contradicting prior scholarship claiming Democrats are the chief supporters of foreign aid. It also indicates increased aid to Central Africa has paralleled economic improvements, but outside variables other than aid are to credit as well. Finally, the "brand aid" movement provides a practical alternative to the current aid system. This research hopes to contribute to the ever increasing debate on foreign aid and offer an alternative to the current practice.