Honors projects are coherent programs of independent work carried on by students, usually in their senior year, on subjects or problems of more than ordinary difficulty in areas that they have studied in considerable depth, usually in their majors or closely related areas. Honors projects normally are supervised by faculty members in appropriate departments and may culminate in written theses based on extensive individual research or in pieces of original work in the creative or performing arts accompanied by written presentations.
All Lawrence faculty members may serve as supervisors of honors projects. If the honors-project supervisor is a non-voting member of the faculty, he or she should enlist a voting member of the faculty to serve as a co-sponsor of the proposed project and periodically consult with the co-sponsor as the project develops.
An examining committee evaluates the results of each project, conducts an oral examination of the honors candidate, and considers what constitutes the appropriate level of honors in view of the strengths and weaknesses of both the thesis and the oral defense. The Committee on Honors reviews the reports of all such examining committees and submits its recommendations for Honors in Independent Study to the faculty for final approval.
Since honors projects frequently complement students’ work in their majors, they should discuss the opportunities for independent study with faculty members in their fields of concentration as early as possible in order to begin laying appropriate foundations in courses, tutorial work, and summer reading. In some fields, tutorials or courses in research methods can lead to the formulation of suitable thesis topics and methods of attack, while in other fields topics may stem from unanswered problems in regular courses, from students’ own interests, or from teachers’ suggestions. Whatever the field, students ought to keep in mind the possibility of doing honors projects as they plan their programs, especially in the junior year, or earlier if they will be off-campus at that time. Students do not have to take an independent-study course in order to submit an honors project.
Jointly written projects or theses undertaken jointly may be submitted for Honors in Independent Study. The work involved in such cases, however, must be equitably shared and demonstrate benefits clearly resulting from the merger of the authors’ different skills and knowledge. Students considering joint projects or theses must obtain the consent of their faculty independent studies advisors and the Committee on Honors well in advance of such endeavors.