Honors in Africana Studies

The Honors Project in Africana Studies

The honors project requirement is adapted from the Bowdoin College honors project policy. A degree with departmental or program honors is awarded to students who distinguish themselves through advanced scholarship in the discipline. In Africana Studies, the successful honors project uses the intellectual and interdisciplinary tools of Africana studies to produce an exemplary project based on systematic reading, research, questioning, and reflection. The project can emerge from questions raised in a course, in an independent study project, or through a non-academic experience. The project will culminate in a substantial paper or creative presentation. The writing of an honors thesis does not automatically lead to the granting of honors. The level of honors will be conferred by the Africana Studies Program Committee when the final project demonstrates a significant degree of original research and/or theoretical creativity.


Permission to apply for an honors project in Africana Studies is reserved for students with distinguished academic records in the Program. Students who wish to pursue an honors project should consult with the Director of the Africana Studies Program and with the faculty member who might become the main advisor for the project. This should be done prior to the semester in which the project begins in order to ensure faculty availability. Students considering honors should expect to do preliminary research in the summer preceding their senior year.

Proposal Submission and Review:
By the end of the second week of classes in the initial semester of the proposed project, the honors candidate should present a 2-3 page written description of the proposed project to the Director of the Program and the faculty advisor. The Director, potential faculty advisors, and members of the Africana Studies Program Committee will review the project proposals and determine which students will be encouraged to pursue honors projects. The number of honors projects in Africana Studies in any given year is limited, and project proposals will be judged competitively. It is expected that honors projects in Africana Studies will number between 80 and 120 pages. Those students whose projects are determined not eligible for honors may be encouraged to continue their projects as intermediate or advanced independent studies for that semester.
Proposal format: The proposal must include a description of and rationale for the specific focus as well as the problem or question the work will consider; a description of the methodological and theoretical approaches the student expects to employ; and a discussion of how the proposed project fits in with existing scholarship. The proposal must have as an addendum, a preliminary annotated bibliography.

Committee Composition:

The project will be supervised by a committee of two faculty members, one of whom is a principal advisor and the other, a second reader, at least one of whom should be a member of the Africana Studies Program Committee or an affiliated faculty member. The second reader is chosen by the principal advisor in consultation with the student and the Director of the Africana Studies Program. During the two semesters that a student is working on an honors project, the Director is available for consultation with the student and with the faculty members directing honors projects. Faculty supervising an honors project should be kept informed of deadlines by the Director and must communicate with the Director about how the project is progressing. In this respect, the Director will have the same role in the project as that of a department chair.

Project Phases and Deadlines:

The honors project advising committee will determine the project’s feasibility at the end of each phase. Failure to meet deadlines will result in the project’s downgrade to an independent study if work is satisfactory, or disqualification. CLICK HERE for the 2014-2015 Honors submission schedule.

Phase 1 begins early in the fall semester, with the presentation of the prospectus to the advising committee, who determines the viability of the project moving forward.

Phase 2 requires the submission of the 1st chapter to the advisor. A draft of 2ndchapter and an outline of the 3rd will be due at the end of the semester.

Phase 3 begins in the spring semester. A draft of the entire project is due to the advisor in early March and involves feedback from the advisor and final revisions, and culminates in the submission and defense of the entire honors project to the honors committee in early May.

The student will present a 15-minute colloquium on her or his findings and conclusions, including the evolution of the student’s thinking about the project as it was carried out in an open forum, with members of the honors committee, program committee, and majors and minors in Africana Studies in the audience. This colloquium is followed by questions posed by the audience. The project advisor may suggest additional changes as a result of discussion at the colloquium, and the program’s decision about conferring honors may be influenced by student performance during this colloquium. 
Honors Designation:

The final recommendation of the student’s advisors and the honors committee determines whether program honors are to be awarded. The Africana Studies Program does not distinguish levels of departmental honors. The grade for the independent study is determined by the student’s principal advisor, in consultation with the second reader.

Submission to Hawthorne-Longfellow Library:

Theses should be typed in conformity with official college instructions and delivered to the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library. Complete information of all of the library requirements can be found at http://library.bowdoin.edu/services/services-for-honors-students/ 

Past Honors Projects in Africana Studies »