Guidelines for Honors Projects in Latin American Studies

In most cases Latin American Studies honors projects will involve the writing of a monographic essay on a research topic. However, given the interdisciplinary nature of the program, other specifications can be approved by the Overseeing Committee according to the modality of scholarly production that is appropriate to different disciplines. To be eligible, the student must have earned at least a B+ average in the courses taken for the major.

An honors project will normally involve two semesters of independent study enrollment with a faculty advisor who will determine the course grade. By mutual agreement with the student, the advisor may assess the performance during the first semester as “Satisfactory” and assign a regular course grade for both semesters at the completion of the project. The decision to award Honors is made during the last semester of the project by a consultative committee consisting of at least three faculty members (including the project’s advisor) whose scholarly interests are related to the topic in question. A successful honors essay should demonstrate a critical revision of relevant scholarship on the topic and present a clearly articulated thesis that makes an original contribution to the field, sustains a convincing argument with appropriate evidence, reflects an understanding of broader problems within the discipline, and meets the scholarly standards of presentation (such as a table of contents, proper footnoting, bibliography, no typographical errors, etc.).

Procedures

1. A Latin American Studies major who aspires to write an Honors Thesis should articulate a focused problem or question(s) in writing, and compile a working bibliography on the topic selected before registering for the fall semester of the senior year. Once the potential faculty advisor has approved this submission, the student can then register for a one-semester advanced independent study that may lead to an Honors Project.

2. By the second week of the fall semester, the consultative committee must have assessed the quality and feasibility of a proposal submitted by the student, including a statement of problem, preliminary bibliography, and research plan. By mid-October, the committee should have approved a substantial draft of one chapter and an outline of the project before the student can register for a second-semester independent study and be officially considered an Honors candidate.

3. The last day of classes of the fall semester, the student should submit a polished draft of one or more chapters for comments from the consultative committee. At that time, the student and the committee will also agree on a timetable for the completion of the project during the following semester, which may include periodic meetings to discuss successive drafts of the project.

4. A complete draft of the substantive chapters is due one month before the end of spring classes. The committee members will respond within two weeks with written comments and possible questions. The final thesis draft should be handed in the last day of classes, and the committee may suggest minor editorial changes no later than one week before the thesis is due in the library (generally one week before Commencement).

5. During or briefly after the reading period of the spring semester, the candidate will present the analysis and conclusions in a colloquium and engage in discussion of the thesis with an audience of faculty and students. After the colloquium, the advisory committee will deliberate whether the project should be awarded honors. They may also suggest minor editorial changes for the finished essay.