Each senior at Washington College is required to complete a “Senior Capstone Experience.” For political science majors, this takes the form of a research paper on a specific topic selected by the student in the spring semester of the junior year in consultation with a member of the Department.
Recent senior theses have dealt with such topics as the effects of campaign advertisements on voters, the impact of political scandal on public opinion, the politics of the No Child Left Behind Act, the role of third parties in American politics, and the politics of alternative energy policy in Maryland. In May 2010, two political science majors earned honors for their political science theses: Ryan Beaston, a double political science/psychology major, who wrote about negative campaigning, political advertisements, and the need for cognition, and Maureen Sentman, who wrote about the threat of biopiracy toward Latin America’s indigenous groups. Both Ryan and Maureen presented the findings from their honors theses at the annual Pi Sigma Alpha dinner.
In completing this project, students gain a sense of mastery of an important issue and a sense of confidence in their ability to manage the tasks they will face in further education and professional employment.