GLS emphasizes independent study throughout the program, and the senior thesis acts as the final realization of the goals of the degree. Seniors take a course associated with the thesis in each semester: the four-credit Senior Colloquium in the fall and the six-credit Senior Thesis in the spring, when the final draft of the thesis is submitted and reviewed by its first reader (the instructor of the Colloquium/Thesis course) and a second reader who is well-versed in the thesis topic.
Each section unites students in the same concentration who have spent their junior year at various locations; thus, students gain a global perspective on their topics by drawing on the experience of their peers. The Colloquium/Thesis course offers grounding in the theoretical texts relevant to advanced work in the concentration, close guidance in the actual composition of the thesis, and practice in the oral presentation of complex ideas. The skills the Colloquium/Thesis course teaches—defining a major project’s parameters, testing concepts against actual experience, interpreting evidence and integrating the interpretations of prior thinkers, writing an extended argument—are germane to almost any future career.
As a result of the Colloquium/Thesis course, students will:
- Produce work of substantial length (will not exceed 50 pages, or the equivalent, depending on the nature of its subject and approach) that constitutes a well-informed individual statement on a topic of global scope or significance
- Identify and engage the sources, critics, and approaches most relevant to their thesis, working across disciplines as appropriate
Situate within the appropriate discourse the importance of the central question or issue that their thesis addresses
- Draw appropriately on the experiences of their junior year to inform their thesis
- Manage the coordination of several discrete chapters (or equivalent elements) into a rhetorically effective whole
- Show an appreciation of larger contexts than nations or regions in understanding their thesis topic
- Present the major ideas of their thesis in a short, clear, and compelling manner in another medium than print (e.g., orally, online, etc.)
About the Thesis
The finished thesis will not exceed 50 pages (or the equivalent, depending on the nature of its subject and approach) and concerns a topic related both to the junior year’s international study experience and a global issue of contemporary importance in the student’s concentration. Global Studies as a field requires synthetic, big-picture thinking; the thesis requires students independently to draw together primary and secondary materials to explore a broad-scope topic of their own choice.