Independent Minds, Working Together

Independent Study

Independent Study

Each fall, we begin the Independent Study (I.S.) process very quickly. There is a required meeting for all seniors who will work on I.S. in the department on the first Thursday of the semester. At this meeting, the chair provides key information about the I.S. process, including selecting and focusing your topic and requesting an advisor. For all students enrolled in Senior I.S. for the fall semester, I.S. proposals are due the following Thursday. All seniors enrolled in I.S. for the fall should schedule appointments and discuss possible I.S. topics with at least two faculty members in the Political Science Department before they turn in their proposals.

All Senior I.S. proposals must contain the following information:

  1. The tentative title of your IS project
  2. Your name and class rank
  3. A one-paragraph description of what you plan to do, and how you plan to do it (what data or sources of information you will use). This paragraph must contain a (provisional) statement of the hypothesis that you intend to test or the question that you will answer in your research project
  4. A short bibliography of at least five sources that you have already examined in formulating your proposal
  5. A list of the faculty with whom you have discussed your proposal (you should talk to at least two professors in the Political Science Department about your topic) and your preferences, if any, for an advisor

Examples of I.S. Projects

For a searchable list of I.S. Titles, use the I.S. Database. To see the range of projects that students are pursuing, you can search by major.

Below are some past examples of Independent Study projects by Political Science majors, or International Relations majors with a Political Science home department for the 2008-2009 academic year.

Example of an I.S. project in Comparative Politics

  • Sarah Horne '07. The Media As A Revolutionary Actor: A Case Study of Nicaragua During the Sandinista Government.

Example of an I.S. project in International Relations

  • Elisabeth Bremer '08. A Gendered Analysis of Microcredit Lending: The Effects of Women’s Rights on Grassroots Development.
  • Alex Brower '08. The Construction of a European Identity Through Discourse Othering "Less European" Actors: Debates on Turkish Accession to the European Union.
  • Margaux Day '06. Put Your Money Where Your Patients Are: A Study of International Funding for AIDS Treatment.
  • Cristabel Dadzie '04. Replicating the South African Model? Truth Commissions as Tools for Reconciliation: The Cases of Nigeria, Ghana, and Sierra Leone.

Example of an I.S. project in Political Theory

  • Andrew Gross '08. Gardens & Revolutions: Guy Debord, Wendell Berry and the Cultivation of the Creative Subject.
  • Eric Roscoe '07. Assisted Suicide: An Interest, Not a Right.

Examples of I.S.project in U.S. National Politics

  • Steven Schott '07. Civic Capacity and Regional Sustainability: The Evolution of Metropolitan Sustainability Policy.
  • Erik Shoemaker '07. Framing Processes and Collective Action Responses: Organizing Efforts against Anti-Undocumented Immigrant Ballot Initiatives in California and Arizona.

Example of a Double Major I.S. projects in Political Science and Philosophy

  • Lara Pfaff '08. Moral Foundations of Truth Commissions in Theory and Practice.
  • Cameron MacLeod '07. Determining Indicative Factors Of International Institutional Legitmacy.

Example of a Double Major I.S. project in Political Science and Psychology

  • Michael Panfil '07. The Power of Persuasive Speech: The Interplay between Ethnicity, the Speaker, His or Her Message, and the Audience.