Written by Svetlana Dotsenko
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Jordan Sessler, a proud native of Texas, brought his senior thesis to his home state in looking at how subnationalism can improve developmental outcomes. Traditional subnational cultures with strong group identities, such as the states of Southern India, often experience a boon in developmental programs, and it is thought that a strong sense of group cohesion and collective experience contributes to the ease of developmental expansion. The traditional exception to this model is Texas which has a strong sense of state pride while paradoxically having low health and education ratings in the US. Sessler set out to explain why.
In fact, Texas has made great strides in environmental and energy development. Utilizing Texas pride as a marketing strategy, the “Don’t Mess with Texas” anti-littering campaign became so well known that it has become a cultural slogan, supported by countless Texan celebrities. Similarly, Lyndon Baines Johnson pushed for rural electricity expansion using the Texan collective experience to convince residents of the plan, far before other Western states had rural electricity systems. Such campaigns would have been impossible without the subnationalism that Texas is known for.