Social Science

Senior Seminar

 The Senior Social Science Seminar is a capstone experience for all majors. One of the purposes of the seminar is to bring together students in the various majors in the department to examine the implications and interrelations of their studies.

The seminar includes reading and discussion in conjunction with preparation for the presentation of a senior paper. The Senior Social Science paper may be used toward the completion of a Human Issues project. An approved Senior Paper/Human Issues Project Proposal should be developed with the academic advisor before the beginning of the semester that the student is enrolled in the seminar (SS 484).

Senior Seminar/Human Issues Completion Proposal Form

Student Professional Advancement Grant Form

SS SenSemPos Fall 2019



Senior Paper & Human Issues Requirements


The Senior Paper should be a capstone project which shows your accomplishment in the academic discipline of your major, and your ability to gather data, do analysis, and report your findings in a clear and effective manner.

You are encouraged to build upon some work you have already begun in another class or through personal interest. This is the opportunity to go deeper into the subject, use updated materials or link course work and personal research. Do not feel that you should start from scratch on a new project. Pick something that you care about—you're going to be living with it pretty intensely for a while.

You will want to develop a thesis or position on the topic. General description is acceptable only if your project involves some original work, in which case your creative abilities are demonstrated in the capturing of new information more so than in traditional papers based on the research of others. Since many of the senior papers of students in the Social Sciences relate closely to the kind of projects expected for the Human Issues requirement, you may integrate the Senior Paper with the completion of the Human Issues project.

There are a few caveats, however:

  • Senior Papers intended to be used for Human Issues must go beyond the expectations of a Senior Paper required for the major and meet the criteria for the Human Issues requirement (see the Human Issues website or class handouts). This means that the paper must reflect more than one perspective (discipline and/or lived experience); it can't be just a straight Sociology paper, for example. It means that you must discuss the values surrounding the topic you choose. And it means that you must show your engagement with the topic personally, possibly in the form of some recommendations or reflections.
  • Since the Human Issues Project is to reflect a sustained experience, it is very important that your paper be built on work that you have begun prior to the semester in which you are enrolled in SS 484. It is very unlikely that you would be able to construct an adequate Human Issues project in one semester.
  • Ideally, you have completed a Senior Seminar/Human Issues Completion Proposal form with your advisor. If you are enrolled in SS 484 and have not completed this form, see the seminar instructor immediately to make arrangements.

The Social Science Department will consider making funds available to Edgewood College Social Science students to offset some costs related to the development or presentation of their research. Funds can be requested by completing a Request for Student Professional Advancement Grant form. All papers will be evaluated by the course instructor and receive a grade reflecting fulfillment of the Social Science requirement. Papers submitted as completion of Human Issues will receive a Pass-Fail notification from the seminar instructor.

This is your opportunity to do a personally-satisfying, creative, professional project which you can put into your portfolio as an example of your best undergraduate work


Top Ten List for Senior Seminar


Student Advice for Senior Research:


How to actually finish and make the most of your Social Science/Human Issues Senior Project *


10. With the same care as you pick your friends, pick a topic in which you are really interested. You are going to be spending A LOT of time on this project, and you will regret it if you pick something that you don't really care about. Make sure your topic is narrow and concise.

9. Nothing like a deadline…Be sure to meet the deadlines as issued. The Human Issues project is indeed a large project, but it is very "doable" if you keep up with the deadlines.

8. You get by with a little help from…your professors. Don't be afraid to ask professors for help. This includes professors you may have for classes, your adviser, or a professor that is in the field of one of the disciplinary aspects you are incorporating into your project.

7. Research early, research often. Start with a "ton" of research from all different angles. The more firsthand research (i.e., interviews, visits, etc.) the better. Allot plenty of time for scheduling interviews & visitscall early. Use your reference librarians for help on your research.

6. Organization matters—keep your journal articles organized. I had an enormous stack of articles and was getting overwhelmed, so I wrote down a list of the main sections of my paper and assigned each section a different color post-it note. Then as I went through the articles I stuck the corresponding post-it note on the article and put them all in an organized binder. It made it a lot easier to find information and keep everything straight.

5. Technology works for you, not you for it—Use an online bibliography program. The library has a great program, RefWorks, which reduces the hassle of writing the bibliography out manually. Keep this updated as you go along and don't wait to add all your references at once.

4. If possible, make your project something that is useful and relevant to your future area of work. While working on my project, I met with Career Services, and they explained how beneficial having a research project related to a future job can be. Prospective employers look favorably on projects like these, and it will also give you something to talk about in an interview.

3. Add value(s). Identify values and ethical issues embedded in your topic and critically reflect on these throughout your project. Doing your research with these in mind will offer you more depth and a unique lens to make sense of what you're learning and experiencing.

2. Think about why your topic is important to the world, your community, and you. This is probably one of my favorite pieces of advice. This is your chance to actually bring something legitimate to the table, something to add to the public conversation. Instead of asking "how can I be sure my research does no harm," ask yourself "how can I be sure my research does well?" Corollary: Get out of your comfort zone and do something in the community.Make this project really mean something to you. You will be extra proud of how it turns out if you've made a difference in the community along the way.

1. JUST DO IT! Have fun with the projectworrying about it is a waste of energy.

* Compiled and adapted from the responses of three former SS 484 students who successfully completed their SS/Human Issues Senior Projects… and lived to tell about it!