The sociology department will ask majors to complete research projects and give public presentations for their senior exercises next year. For the past few years, the sociology senior exercise has been an oral examination. To mark the change, the department is also changing the name of the exercise from the “Senior Sociology Comps” to the “Senior Sociology Capstone,” according to Associate Professor of Sociology and Asian Studies Anna Sun, chair of the sociology department.
“We want to find a way to give our seniors the most intellectually rewarding experience, something that they can take into their careers after college,” Sun told the Collegian in an email. “It should be a crowning achievement.”
The change is consistent with a recent recommendation made by the Curricular Policy Committee (CPC). On Nov. 16, the Collegian reported that the CPC planned to propose that the “Senior Exercise” be renamed to the “Senior Capstone” across all departments at a Dec. 4 faculty meeting.
The Senior Sociology Capstone will consist of an independent research project, followed by a public presentation and a Q&A session with faculty. These changes, Sun hopes, will create a “a genuinely fulfilling senior experience,” addressing a concern that the oral examination format did not leave much room for individualized focus. Justin Buss ’18, a sociology major, felt the oral exam did not represent the four years of sociology courses that preceded it.
“The question format was not really reflective of the work we’ve been doing in classes,” Buss said.
Hudson Farr ’19, also a sociology major, is looking forward to the new capstone format. “I like the focus on a research project,” Farr said. “The questions to the oral exam, you can individualize them some, but they’re meant to be broad. … I’m excited to explore a research project that’s really interesting to me.”
Farr anticipates more changes to the senior exercise as the department launches the new format, as does Sun. “We may still be making changes in the next few years, listening to our students and making adjustments along the way, in order for the Sociology Capstone to be the kind of program that our students will be remembering years from now with gratification and, hopefully, pride,” Sun wrote.