All students at Luther College must complete a project during their senior year. An independently-undertaken major project, completed over the course of several months with minimal supervision, is among the most significant and meaningful accomplishments of a college career. It provides a clear demonstration of skills and mental acuity to both potential employers and graduate schools.
This paper should be the capstone of your education, where you take the methods, skills and knowledge you gained from history classes and put them into practice independently. Choose a topic that excites you and is narrow enough to explore thoroughly. We want you to engage primary sources and existing historiography to develop an innovative argument. Please consult the senior paper option page for requirements.
The senior paper lesson plan option is intended to be a cumulative experience for students which allows them to put into practice the basic objectives of the history program as a whole. Those electing to do the lesson plan option apply their research by producing original plans for introducing the subject matter in a middle school or secondary classroom. This assignment aims specifically to encourage independent research which synthesizes ideas based on secondary and primary sources, makes judgments about sources and historical interpretations, and produces original lesson plans. Please consult the senior project lesson plan page for requirements (in effect from Spring 2016).
Note: The rules and procedures for dropping HIST 490 are the same as for other courses. However, you will not receive a diploma and officially graduate until you have successfully completed a senior project.
Throughout the semester:
For Fall 2017, the deadline is September 8. For Spring 2018, the deadline is February 16.
Q: Can I use a paper from a previous history class, like my 485 paper?
A: Students can choose to substantially revise a previous paper written for History 485 or another history class. This includes using new sources, introducing a new thesis, and increasing the length of the previous paper.
Q: Can I write my senior paper and my 485 paper in the same semester?
A: Taking 490 and 485 in the same semester is STRONGLY discouraged. Consult your academic advisor on how to arrange your classes before your senior year to avoid the need to take them both in the same semester. If you find yourself in this situation, then you should speak immediately with your 485 professor and the history professor with whom you intend to write your senior project.
Q: How do I decide on a topic?
A: Choice of topic is up to the student’s interests regarding time period and area of the world, but you must consider the specialties of the advisor with whom you are working, the resources of the library, and what it is possible to get on interlibrary loan given constraints of time.
Q: What if I am a double major? Do I have to do my senior project in history?
A: You may choose to do your senior project in either major. The History Department does not require that you complete the senior project in our discipline. You should check what the rules are in your other discipline, as some majors do require a senior project in their discipline.