The Honors Project in Africana Studies
The honors project requirement is adapted from the Bowdoin College honors project policy. According to Bowdoin College 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. 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.
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.
Drafts of a significant component of the thesis (at least one fully revised chapter), along with a memo outlining progress to date as well as detailed plans for the remainder of the work, are due on the last day of the fall semester. The committee will then make a recommendation about the continuation of the project as an honors project in the spring semester. Students should expect to receive feedback and spend the winter break working on their projects.
In order to allow time for a thorough critique, a complete draft of the project is due a week before spring break begins. The main advisor and second reader will return the draft with written comments within two weeks so that the student can begin working on revisions and can have sufficient time to complete the project by the end of April.
Colloquium and Final Draft:
Students will present the final draft of the project in a program colloquium 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 Africana Studies 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.
The final recommendation of the student’s advisor, second reader, and the Africana Studies Program 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.
Students must meet all deadlines for submitted work. Failure to meet deadlines, except when the committee grants a short extension, may disqualify the project as an honors project. Click here for the 2012-2013 Honors submission schedule.
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/