Senior Study

In their final year, students design independent learning projects that enable them to deeply engage with an area of interest and to develop a sustained body of work. The senior study can be a traditional thesis or take a variety of experiential forms, including action research, community practice, or artistic immersion.

Below is a sample of recent senior study projects:

Individualized Bachelor of Arts Senior Study Examples

Murillo, Alejandro. “Why Does Salsa Move Me? Salsa Music as Identity, Pride, and Belonging for Latino Immigrants in the United States.” Spring 2012. 

This senior study comprises two parts: a CD demo of my vocal recordings of salsa music and a context paper that discusses the history of salsa, my singing practice, and my affinity with the music as a Latino. The musical tracks on my demo contain my own karaoke tracks and also recordings of my singing with salsa and Afro-Cuban ensembles in the San Francisco Bay Area. My context paper tells a brief history of Cuban, Puerto Rican, and United States music as it pertains to salsa’s development from the 1920s to the 80s and attributes the creation of salsa music to Puerto Ricans. I acknowledge noteworthy musicians both for their musical contributions and their documented struggles around issues of race, ethnicity, and class difference. Then I delve into my singing practice describing how I went about learning to sing salsa, including my challenges and successes with the practice. Finally I bring the two former themes together to explain how salsa music is part of my cultural identity and gives me a sense of belonging because of the shared histories between Puerto Rican musicians and myself. Most prominent among these is the experience of marginalization by outsiders of the dominant United States host culture. I explore how salsa music reflected life in the Latino barrios and the marginalization that Puerto Ricans experienced in 1970s New York City as well as how salsa music’s international popularity afforded Latino culture, more specifically Puerto Rican, much worth and recognition in the United States society.

Sweeney, Susan. “My 30-year Relationship with Type 1 Diabetes: A Creative & Scholarly Journey of Self Discovery & Critical Learning.” Spring 2013.

What does having Type 1 diabetes mean for a child who is diagnosed with it? What did it mean for me at the age of eleven? What do I know today that I wish I could have been told back then? How can I make a difference in people’s lives today – children and adults alike – living with Type 1 diabetes? My Senior Study comprising a memoir, children’s book, and puppet show address these questions employing different genres and different voices to redress the dearth of resources that are both informative and entertaining for people with Type 1 diabetes. It is my goal to not only deter girls and women from experiencing the unnecessary ordeals I faced, but to encourage them to give voice to their own experiences and their struggle for self-determination in a culture saturated with destructive myths about beauty, self-image, and romance.

Fiffer, Rob. “Recovery Counseling Deconstructed: Essays, Research, & Photos.” Fall 2013.

The following is a collection of interrelated essays, photos, and facts, which document my experiences working as a recovery counselor at an adolescent drug treatment center and reviewing literature from a variety of disciplines regarding drug and alcohol addiction. I have presented this material as a collage of distinct pieces—powerful excerpts from my readings, poignant moments from my work at the drug treatment center, and my ambivalent thoughts throughout the course of my study. At the core of this fragmented format is honesty. There is no argument or persuasion—just open-ended sharing of my immersion into the theory and practice of recovery counseling. Neuroscience, sociology, and clinical psychology perspectives are included, but what shapes this project most are the transformative interactions I had at the adolescent drug treatment center.

Bella, Kyle. “Queerstory: Notes on an Architecture of Desire.” Fall 2011.

Queerstory: Notes on an Architecture of Desire” is an interdisciplinary, multi-genre work that explores the practice of queerstory, a newly developed form of storytelling employing representational strategies of queer-identified authors from Truman Capote in the 1930s to contemporary writers, including Ronaldo Wilson and Renee Gladman. Spanning nearly 80 years of United States history, queerstory distills how these authors, despite possessing wildly different personal backgrounds, all advocate for a more equitable world for anyone who has experienced violence, or been marginalized, on the basis of their identity. In this respect, queerstory is a form of storytelling that strives to build community and engender political change immediately. The overall structure of the work mirrors its desire to find commonalities in experience despite diverse upbringings. Anchored by academic writing in a preface and five narrative centers (which are meant to serve as centers of analysis, rather than a linear sequence of chapters), queerstory also makes attempts to move beyond the confines of traditional academic language, employing short creative pieces called selvedges in between these centers. These pieces are imagined conversations between the academic and creative influences that have guided the formation of my larger narrative quest for understanding queer identity. In a literal sense, they help bind these non-linear, often atemporal, centers together, but they can also serve as entry points into understanding queer mourning for those without formal academic studies.

Bachelor of Arts in Health Arts & Sciences Senior Study Examples

Fantasia, Jenn. “The Yoga of Choice.” Spring 2014.

The purpose of my Senior Project was to apply the framework of academic inquiry and therapeutic methods to a process that was both scholastic and personal in nature. The twofold objective of this project concentrated on a) engaging in the academic inquiry of various holistic modalities b) employing therapeutic methods in contemplation of the inspiration to pursue a career in a caring profession. method The dialogue of this work is expressed by a series of questions and responses that unfold the deeper learning inherent in the process of this undertaking. For the academic inquiry portion I employed research techniques to validate the sources I found. For the personal portion I applied meditation and journal keeping to facilitate personal exploration. results The results of this work include a context paper and a series of worksheets related to holistic health topics. This endeavor also revealed the unexpected results of a firm understanding of the importance of validating your resources and the sincere value of asking questions. conclusion. Goals were set and missions were accomplished in this exploration of the path to professional pursuit of various holistic health modalities. The ever evolving nature of this work resulted in profound but shifting conclusions

Klyman-Clark, Valerie. “A Cabinet of Curiosity.” Fall 2012.

Drawing upon the core ethics and aesthetics of Visionary Arts, Outsider Arts and Art Brut to illuminate the essence and connections between art, meaning making and medicine making. Beginning with an exploration of artists as bricoleurs—those working with whatever materials they have on hand; making use of what is available—the study continues to explore the ethic and transformation, as essential aspects of being human. It concludes with a study of magic and alchemy as places where art, meaning making and medicine making intersect. The study culminates in a creative project, the Cabinet of aesthetics of outsider art—invoking both art and spirit, meaning making and Curiosity, which represents visually and as a process the values and essences of magical, alchemical and herbal arts filtered and distilled through fine art. The project expresses curiosity in the transformative qualities of an art and how all may be approached with an attitude of devotion and spiritual relevancy. It represents and embodies the author’s art practice and herbal practice as earnest spiritual disciplines, ones undertaken with perseverance and reverence. The Cabinet of Curiosity contains handmade, biodynamic medicines and information about those medicines. Herbal monographs are built into the structure of the cabinet itself. Call it apothecary as art installation; the cabinet represents an overarching aesthetic, a container for personal and scholarly process.

Schmitz, Jenna. “A Model for Traditional Birth Attendant Outreach in Haiti and other Low-Resource Settings.” Spring 2013.

This study encompasses a comprehensive history of of the US Federal Public Land System from it’s founding through modern day, and explores the policy under which it is managed. It compares the philosophical foundations of various approaches to this policy, and the ways in which these lands have been exploited despite management efforts. Finally, it examines this history using the rubric of Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons and makes observations on the trajectory of modern land management policy

Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability Senior Study Examples

Griffith, Coleman. “This land is your land: how the federal public lands came to exist, and how the private sector exploits them.” Fall 2011.

This study encompasses a comprehensive history of of the US Federal Public Land System from it’s founding through modern day, and explores the policy under which it is managed. It compares the philosophical foundations of various approaches to this policy, and the ways in which these lands have been exploited despite management efforts. Finally, it examines this history using the rubric of Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons and makes observations on the trajectory of modern land management policy.

Jackson, Nicholas. “In What Shall I Live: Permaculture, Natural Building, Cultural Appropriation & The Design of A Sustainable Home.” Fall 2011.

This paper explains the context of my digital three-dimensional home design. My design utilizes natural building techniques with permaculture design principles, and appropriates some elements of Mongolian yurt design. While this design creates a cultural blend of architecture, I am also asking what does an ethical home look like in the current ecological crisis. With western culture spreading across the globe, what is the ethical use of vernacular architecture from abroad?

Latour, Maribou. “Designing and Building a Rocket Stove in Nicaragua: Benefits and Challenges, Theory and Practice.” Fall 2011.

Primarily a creative project to design and build a rocket stove in Balgue, Nicaragua, this project may serve to reach future stove builders, NGOs, and volunteer-based organizations, especially in Nicaragua, seeking to reduce the socioeconomic impacts of indoor air pollution, excessive biomass fuel consumption, and associated hardships of inefficient traditional cook-stoves. This project is backed with research on how the inefficient biomass combustion of traditional open-fire cookstoves, and even badly designed “improved stoves,” have far-reaching and serious consequences on women’s and children’s health and safety, in addition to undercutting a variety of interwoven environmental and socioeconomic issues, linking deforestation, fuel scarcity, poor food security, gender inequity, mortality, livelihood insecurity, and poverty. Through better combustion efficiency, heat transfer, and fuel efficiency, cleaner-burning, smoke-reducing rocket stoves offer one of the best alternatives to domestic open-fire cook-stoves in addition to commercial, institutional, and industrial energy needs, unlike many “improved stoves” of the past. Weaving a personal account of health issues related to cooking over an open fire with documentation of how I designed and constructed a rocket stove as a practical solution, this project is the culmination of research pointing towards rocket stoves and other advanced biomass stoves as a powerful tool for social and economic change, with profound environmental, health, safety, poverty, and climate benefits. Embedded in this are also reflections and analyses of my stove’s performance with suggestions to future stove producers and humanitarian organizations.