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Haverford College
Department of Political Science
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Senior Research

Illustrative list of senior theses in political science

The senior thesis represents the capstone of the Political Science major.

After completing the requisite number of introductory- and intermediate-level courses that expose students to the central concepts and theories of the discipline and at least two advanced seminars that endeavor in an even more focused manner to cultivate sophisticated analytical and research skills, students are prepared to undertake a senior thesis in collaboration with a faculty advisor.  That collaboration may entail a number of small-group sessions with other thesis advisees, but more often involves one-on-one meetings on a weekly or biweekly basis to discuss each phase of the research process.

Every thesis experience is somewhat different, but most include identifying an interesting and important research question, exploring how other scholars have attempted to address that question, and devising a viable research plan.  Students then devote substantial time and effort to conducting their own research, often using both primary and secondary sources, and evaluating how their findings relate to existing scholarship.  The goal is to promote the ongoing acquisition of research and analytical skills, as well as the ability to carry out extensive projects independently and consistent with the highest standards of excellence.

Towards the end of the senior year, students submit a written thesis and then defend their thesis in an oral examination before the student's thesis advisor and one other member of the Political Science Department.  Each thesis is then added to the senior thesis archive at Magill Library.

Many political science departments offer a senior thesis option to select students as part of an honors program, but at Haverford the senior thesis is required of all of our majors.  We are one of the few political science departments in the United States to do so because we firmly believe that designing, implementing, and interpreting the results of an original project develops important skills and aptitudes that will be valuable to our students as they pursue post-graduate study and a multitude of career paths and as they live their lives as thoughtful and engaged citizens.

Illustrative list of senior theses in political science

  • Thomas Anthony Bryan, "Trials as a Transitional Justice Mechanism:  The Case of France" (2008) (Isaacs).
  • Erica Davies, "The Michigan Womyn's Music Festival "womyn-born-womyn" Policy:  Limitations of Alliance in the Politics of Exclusion" (2008) (Beltran).
  • Dean Granoff, "Oil States and Violent Dissent:  Political Structure, Economics, and Foreign Interference in Oil States" (2008) (Mendelsohn).
  • Devon Hercher, "The Primary Question:  Is the Presidential Nominating Process Sufficiently Democratic" (2008) (McGovern).
  • Rohini Khillan, "'Past Is Prologue'":  The Legacy of India's Historical Past and the Formation of India's Democracy" (2008) (Marr).
  • Matthew Kokot, "Changing America's Drug War:  The Potential Implications of the Dutch Approach for America's War on Drugs" (2008) (Waldman).
  • Luke Patton, "Organizing the Unorganized:  The Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Latino Migrant Farm Labor in the 21st Century" (2008) (McGovern).
  • Brian Till, "Ghosts of Afghanistan:  Lessons from the Return of the Arab Afghans in the Post-Soviet Period" (2008) (Mendelsohn).
  • Jeremy Babener, "Presidential Political Rhetoric:  A Case Study of George W. Bush's Social Security Reform Campaign" (2007) (Waldman).
  • Lukas Leuthold, "Regionalization and Globalization:  Confluent or Conflicting State Integration" (2007) (Borowiak).
  • Katie Parker, "Liberation Is Not Enough:  The Differential Citizenship Experience of the Mapuche in Chile" (2007) (Isaacs).
  • Justine Patrick, "Sweet Chocolate:  The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and Its Impact upon Cocoa Production in Ghana" (2007) (Wing).
  • Keyu Tang, "An Internet Regulation Expose:  Chronological and Geographical Patterns of How the U.S. Media Depicts Internet Governance Issues" (2007) (Borowiak).
  • Andrew Yeats, "Science and the Politics of Truth:  An Arendtian Perspective" (2007) (Beltran).
  • Claire Fawcett, "The Zapatista Conflict:  Mexico's Political Paradox" (2006) (Wing).