If you qualify, you may choose to undertake an honors thesis in Religion in your last year of study as a Religion major.
Honors thesis projects afford you the opportunity to explore a specific topic or question in religious studies on a deeper level than is usually required for undergraduate level work. Satisfactory completion of this work will mean that you will qualify for honors, high honors, or highest honors at Commencement--depending on the judgment of the faculty on your honors committee at the end of your project.
Honors projects take a full two semesters' work, and students may not enter the honors program with less than two semesters before graduation. Thus you should plan to have the faculty advisor directing your thesis project in place by the end of the last semester of your Junior year.
Please do not underestimate the work involved in this project--from developing a focus for your thesis in conversation with your advisor, to research, to producing chapters in time for a defense of the entire project by early April at the latest.
To participate in the Department of Religion Honors Program, students must:
(a) have a cumulative average of at least 3.50 at the end of their first three years of study.
(b) have the consent of a faculty advisor to direct the thesis work in the student's senior year: this faculty member can be from any Department. (Please note that faculty have a variety of obligations in any given year, and they may not always be available to direct such a project. Thus the student will find it helpful to make this agreement as early as possible with a given faculty member.)
(c) in consultation with this director, choose two additional faculty members to serve on their honors committee. The honors committee must include one member from outside the Department of Religion. The student is encouraged to consult with the additional committee members, especially during the final semester of the work.
(d) complete a minimum of two successive semesters of Honors Directed Reading (REL 495R). The Department encourages the student to find and take a graduate seminar related to the honors topic, if available.
(e) defend the thesis in an oral examination in the final semester of study. The entire committee will judge the quality of the completed honors thesis during this defense.
In the case of a joint major, both departments must approve and the committee must include one faculty member from each department and a third faculty member from outside both departments.
A double major will choose which department's honors program to join as the College does not allow a student to attempt two such projects.
Fourragères signifying honors are presented to qualifying graduating seniors to be worn at Commencement.
Recent honors theses include:
- "The Ethics of HIV Drug Research in South Africa."
- "My Lord's Coming Again: Biblical Interpretation Through Slave Songs."
- "Religion in the River: The Unconventional Religion of Whitewater Raft Guides."
- "Re-inventing Tevillot: An Exploration of Non-traditional Mikvah Use."
- "Sounding Suffering and Redemption: An Exploratory and Creative Discussion of George Herbert, Charles Wesley, and Fred Pratt Green."
- "The Idea of the Religious Path: A Comparative Study of Atisha's Bodhipathapradipa and Kshemaraya's Pratyabhijnahrdayam."
- "Rastafarian I-and-I Communotheism: A Theological Anthropology for Black Women and Men—Sinning, Being, and Bewitching in Liminal Spaces."
- "Feminist Critique of the Christian Theology of Displacement—Pre-Nazi Germany"
- "Run Over by the Great Vehicle: The Buddha's Disciple Sariputra as a Character in the Vimalakistinirdesa and the Lotus Sutra."
- "To Us, Chairman Mao Was God: Exploring the Cultural Revolution as a Religious Phenomenon, 1955-1976."