The honors thesis, the capstone project for seniors in the Honors College, provides students with many opportunities. Writing an honors thesis helps students satisfy their intellectual curiosity, which has been nurtured in their coursework. Students are able to turn towards a more active style of investigation based on the discovery of knowledge. Many of their skills are enhanced along the way. Students gather information from libraries, databases, archives, laboratory experiments, fieldwork sites, and travel abroad. They learn to be flexible if their first efforts don't bear fruit. Having organized a complex piece of writing, they conclude their efforts by presenting and defending their work. Students work closely with faculty mentors, who get to know them well enough to write particularly convincing and detailed letters of recommendation. Student thesis work often results in presentations at professional meetings and publications in learned journals. It isn't surprising that students who pursue a thesis have a leg up in getting into choice graduate schools or being launched into successful careers.
This past year, 112 students wrote honors theses (or did similar creative or other honors-level projects). The preparation for the thesis begins well before the senior year, as students move towards a more active style of learning: they identify an emerging area of interest, focus their skills on advancing its study, and work closely with a faculty mentor. The theses students write reflect the broad range of scholarship done at the University and the seven degree-granting undergraduate colleges and schools it contains. They are the result of the tremendous work not just of the students, but also of their faculty mentors. Given its importance, we in the Honors College have made some changes over the past year to buttress, consolidate and make more uniform the thesis-writing process.
Under the leadership of Associate Dean and professor of English Lisa Schnell, the Honors College Council worked over the past year on a Thesis Handbook, a boon for thesis writers and their advisors. The Handbook contains pertinent information and tips. Beginning this coming year, the Honors College will supplement more specialized thesis-support courses in the various colleges and schools with a one-credit thesis preparation workshop for juniors led by former Honors College Dean and professor of Political Science Bob Pepperman Taylor. This workshop will give students a common background and set of expectations. It will culminate in the preparation of thesis proposals.
These new initiatives will add to the excellent work being done already - a list of last year's theses, including links to complete texts is available: Honors College Thesis Resources.
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