Senior Thesis and Capstone

Students can fulfill the Senior Thesis requirement by completing the department-approved courses or research that is associated with their major, or students may choose to take one of the following courses offered through the University Honors Program. If a student fulfills the Senior Thesis requirement through their major, they must complete a Special Honors Verification Form (pdf). This form is not necessary if a student takes an Honors Thesis course listed below.

Students can fulfill the capstone in either the fall or spring of their senior year.

Who Should Take These

All seniors must complete a Senior Thesis requirement and take a 1-credit Capstone course. Juniors may take the Capstone and/or pursue senior thesis requirements, but should meet with an Program Officer first.

 

Courses

Honors Senior Thesis

Professor Chosen by Student
HONR 4198: 10- 3 to 4 credits
CRN: 30891

Course Description: The Honors Senior Thesis is a one or two-semester independent study to complete a senior thesis. This course is for students who are NOT doing departmental honors. The students and professor should meet at least ten times during the semester. Any student considering the Honors Senior Thesis option should contact an Honors Advisor. This course is only open to Seniors, and requires a completed Honors Contract to register.


Brief History of Human Kind

Professor Eyal Aviv
HONR 4199: 10- 1 credit
CRN: 32288
T 5:00-7:00 PM

Course description:  This course will meet on February 6, 13, 20, and 27. This capstone experience will focus on mankind as “Homo-Sapiens.” We are accustomed to think of ourselves as “humans,” a category separate from all other living things. But what would we learn if we viewed ourselves as a scholar from another planet would? What if we studied our history as just one species out of many rather than the center of creation? In the four meetings we will read one book by Yuval Noah Harari titled Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. The book explores challenging yet fascinating questions: One hundred thousand years ago, at least six different species of humans shared the Earth with us. None of them was more important than gorillas, wolves of fireflies. Yet, today Homo Sapiens control the whole planet. What turned us from insignificant animals to the rulers of the planet? Where did all other humans go? Why did we invent gods or money? What makes the modern period so different from the pre-modern one? Does history have a clear trajectory and is there justice in our world? These are some of the central questions we will address together. Sapiens will offer answers that are surprising and tantalizing and will serve as a fertile ground for thought provoking conversations.


America and the World

Professor Theo Christov
HONR 4199: 11- 1 credit
CRN: 32749
T 5:00-7:00 PM

This course will meet on April 3, 10, 17. and 24.  Now that you have spent the last four years in the nation's capital, how do you understand the changing role of the United States in the world, and, in particular, your own role as a citizen of this country? "America First," the political slogan of the current US administration, has brought into focus the need to evaluate what role the United States should play in the world today and the urgency to reexamine what our role as citizens should be. Our readings will be drawn various sources, including speeches, articles, screenings, all of which have been designed to help us understand current events by studying historical arguments, democratic ideals, and the psychological underpinnings of American political behavior. When can a good citizen criticize the government? What types of arguments are "good" ones to have in the public square? How attentive should citizens be to politics? Should America be a cultural mosaic or a melting pot? Should leaders consider citizens of other countries when making foreign policy? Is it right for the government to "nudge" citizens in the "right" direction when making personal decisions?


Time

Professor Bethany Kung
HONR 4199: 12- 1 credit
CRN: 33091
F 1:30-3:30 PM

This course will meet on February  2, 9, 16, and 23. Augustine famously said: “What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know.” “What then is time?” During our four meetings we will approach this weighty question from a multi-disciplinary perspective. We will ask questions like is it inside our head? Is it real or an illusion? If it is real, is it real only now in the present or do past and future exist as well? Also - what does time mean for our lives when time is seen as commodity that can be treasured or wasted?


Is Love Really Such a Good Thing?

Professor Mark Ralkowski
HONR 4199:13 - 1 credit
CRN: 37451
R 7:00-9:00 PM

This course will meet on January 18 and 25 and February 1 and 8. “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member. That’s the key joke in my adult life, in terms of my relationships with women” (Woody Allen, Annie Hall). We will begin and end this little seminar by asking whether Woody Allen’s joke tells us anything important about love. Our discussions will not be aimed at any final answers about the nature of love. How could they be? Our only goal will be to think freely, with the help of great literature and film, about love’s aspirations and desires, its special kind of knowledge, its profound risks, and its unusual powers. We will read one little novel (a light read, but full of insight) and a small handful of good shorter pieces, and we will watch one movie. Our experience will be organized around four serious conversations, and there will be a dinner at the end. Please come prepared to read carefully and talk a lot!


The Art of Love

Professor William Winstead
HONR 4199:14 - 1 credit
CRN: 37453
W 6:00-8:00 PM

This course will meet on January 24 and 31 and February 7 and 14.“Love” and “work” have rightly been called the great defining activities of our lives. Of the two, love is undoubtedly the more difficult and by far the more fascinating. Love gives meaning to our lives, brings ecstasies and sorrows, and finds itself entangled in thorny questions of power, possession, knowledge, and truth. If love often seems to liberate, it just as often works to enslave. What is love? And how is it practiced? What are its historic forms? Is happiness ultimately dependent upon deep and abiding love? Must love involve submission and possession? These questions among others will inform our capstone seminar as we discuss several of the most illuminating visions of love through the ages with an eye towards acquiring abiding insight into the difficult, essential, and lifelong “art of love.” Our readings will include selections from Plato’s Symposium, Ovid’s The Art of Love, Fromm’s The Art of Loving, and Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex.