College of Arts and Letters students taking on senior thesis projects can accelerate the research and writing process during fall break at Hesburgh Libraries’ second annual Senior Thesis Camp.
“The program helps students establish a framework for writing and research that will enable them to work effectively,” says Cheri Smith, psychology librarian and coordinator for instructional services. “Through informal conversations and short presentations of their research, they also develop a sense of community with other students.”
Senior Thesis Camp offers individual research and writing consultations, plus workshops on research essentials, literature reviews, citation formatting, and funding opportunities.
The inaugural event last fall drew 15 Arts and Letters students from the Departments of American Studies, Anthropology, Classics, East Asian Languages and Cultures, English, History, Political Science, Psychology, and Theology.
“I think the thing that amazed me most last year was the wide variety of interdisciplinary topics students were tackling,” Smith says. “It was wonderful to see them really knuckle down during the week, and I think many of them made some significant progress.”
One of those students was Anna Katter ’11, an American studies and gender studies major who wrote a senior thesis about war memorialization called “The Price of Patriotism.” The camp, she says, helped her prepare for a winter break research trip funded by an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program grant from the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts.
“The tutorials were very helpful,” Katter adds. “For example, the Writing Center had a presenter there who talked about the use of citations and online resources.”
Smith emphasizes that students need not have something written to take advantage of the Writing Center tutors who will be at the camp again this year. “The tutors are there to help at any stage of the process—including the early stages before pen has been put to paper.”
Doing a senior thesis is an opportunity to work one-on-one with an expert faculty mentor and to explore fundamental questions by writing a thesis or creating a work of art that contributes to the scholarly conversation in the student’s chosen field of study.
Senior theses from 2011 ranged from a study of self-actualization in Charles Dickens’ Little Dorrit to a comparative analysis of productivity growth in Shanghai and Hong Kong to the design of an educational toy for children with autism.
Senior Thesis Camp will run Monday, October 17, through Friday, October 21, 2011. There is no cost to register, and students do not need to attend every day to participate in the program. The library will provide a daily continental breakfast and afternoon refreshments for camp participants, and a lunch to celebrate the final day.
The camp will have room for about 25 students this year, Smith says, noting that 18 have already signed up. “There are still a few more spaces available.”