Director of Honors: Fernando Armstrong-Fumero
The honors program is designed to enable qualified students to devote a substantial portion of their senior year's course work to an extensive research project, culminating in the writing of a thesis and the completion of an oral examination. The honors program is designed for students who feel that a four-course load with a set syllabus does not leave enough time for the depth, completeness, intensity and independence they would like in their studies in the major.
Honors vs. Special Studies
Honors theses, whether for 8 or 12 credits, are prepared over the couse of a student's final two semesters. If a student wishes to do a one-semester, independent research project, she should choose the special studies option. Students are expected to work within a field in which they already know the general literature (e.g., the honors work should not be the first contact with a particular area of study). Students on campus junior year are strongly encouraged to take a special studies to develop the proposal.
A student majoring in anthropology who intends to submit an application for candidacy in the honors program should first meet with the director of honors to obtain the application form and the college's regulation sheet and to make sure that the procedures for admission are understood. Students are admitted to honors by the college's Subcommittee on Honors and Independent Programs, upon recommendation from the department.
- B+ average in courses in the major
- Demonstrate the ability to do independent work
- Have completed all required courses (including theory and methods intensive courses and the departmental seminar) during their junior year.*
Students who decide to spend their junior year away from Smith and who intend to apply for honors may be permitted to take a theory or methods intensive course or the required seminar concurrently with their senior thesis. It is essential that any student in this position contact the faculty member with whom she wishes to work no later than the Spring semester of her junior year, to communicate her interest in a thesis, to secure the faculty member's support, and to make appropriate arrangements for completion of the required courses. Students spending their junior year at another institution should take a course or seminar that includes the preparation of a research paper which will demonstrate the student's ability to undertake independent research. The course or seminar itself, however, does not fulfill the Smith anthropology seminar requirement.
Upon admission to the program the director of honors automatically becomes the student's acting major adviser and is responsible for signing course cards and other official forms. A student should arrange to have one faculty member from the department serve as her thesis adviser, as the director of honors is the "official" mediator between the student, the department and the Subcommittee on Honors and Independent Programs, The thesis adviser supervises the planning, research, writing and evaluation of the thesis. Because the adviser and candidate will work closely together throughout the duration of the program, a student must make sure that her adviser will not be on leave or on sabbatical during the relevant semesters.
Students may suggest the names of other faculty whom they desire to act as readers for the thesis, although the department will decide on the second reader. Every effort will be made to secure an anthropologist with relevant expertise as the second reader, either from the department or from the Five Colleges.
Applications for honors may be made after the start of the second semester of the sophomore year and no later than the beginning of the first semester of the senior year. Whenever possible, students are encouraged to submit proposals during the spring semester of the junior year. The college's deadline for application for one- and two-semester honors is the third week of September (or the first week of February in the case of students completing their college program in January). In order for the department to complete its review process, however, applications and proposals must be submitted to the director of honors no later than one week before the regularly scheduled departmental meeting prior to these two dates. Students who have not received approval for their projects by the end of the spring semester of their junior year must register for a four-course load for the following semester; if they are admitted to honors they can then drop one or two regular courses during the year and substitute honors.
In addition to filling out the college's application form, each student will submit a Proposal for Honors. The proposal should be five, double-spaced typed pages and should include:
- a statement detailing the specific theoretical and empirical issues or problems to be considered;
- a description of the methods to be used; and
- a concise survey of the most important literature on the topic.
A working bibliography (approximately three pages) should be appended to the proposal. The department may ask a student to rewrite her proposal and to submit it again, but this cannot be done after the college's official deadline. In order to prepare for the honors program and for writing the proposal, students are strongly encouraged to enroll in a special studies course in the semester prior to admission to the honors program. The department wants to stress that a thesis proposal submitted at the last minute and without close consultation with a faculty member often fails to meet the research and scholarly specifications required to secure departmental approval.