Honors Program introduces new Honors Thesis Forum


Courtesy of the Honors Program

The Honors Thesis Forum was introduced this year to offer students a platform to exhibit their projects.

For the first time, Tulane University hosted an Honors Thesis Forum in order to allow honors thesis writers an opportunity to exhibit their work. Students presented their knowledge gained after a year conducting demanding research and investing strenuous effort into their theses.  

“The Honors Thesis is the preeminent form of research at Tulane. It is the culminating research project for intellectually curious students to pursue,” Director of Tulane’s Honors Program Dr. Charlotte Vail said. “It is an opportunity for students to work closely with faculty members on an area that is of interest to them.” 

The process of writing a thesis takes the entirety of a student’s senior year, beginning with a research proposal in August and ending with a final submission in May, after which the theses are published. Students sometimes, however, begin the process even earlier.

“I’ve been thinking about what I wanted to research since sophomore year” Jake Ward, a thesis writer who also helped to organize the forum, said. 

When choosing a topic to research, students are often influenced by work they have completed alongside faculty during their time at Tulane. These research inspirations may come within laboratories during the semester or classrooms used for a summer research program.

“We see … that students are grappling with these issues and problems,” Vail said. “They begin to address them through their classes, volunteer work and time abroad, so they really sort of ruminate these issues over years. When it comes to pursuing some sort of project senior year, this thesis is their way of doing it.”

Ward stressed the importance of choosing a topic relevant to your interests. She said after eight months of writing and reading, it would be easy to become sick of any topic. 

The process often involves an investment of many hours each week for writing the thesis and conducting relevant research.  For many students, the experience of taking on this large project presents challenges that accompany unfamiliar endeavors.

“I’ve done research papers but nothing to this scale …” Ward said, “The thesis feels like a very different thing. More than any other academic project I’ve ever undertaken — it feels like a real chapter of my life.”

The forum acted as an important event to bring writers together and celebrate their achievements. The research process tends to be isolated, so the forum is meant to minimize solitude in academic endeavors. The goal of the Honors Thesis Forum is to ultimately foster a sense of intellectual community at Tulane.

“There has always been students writing theses in the past, but if you don’t know them, then it’s kind of a silent thing that happens,” Ward said. “But now we’re able to say, ‘These people do great academic work, and we want to celebrate that in a physical space with a physical event and encourage academics at Tulane.'”

“The process is incredibly stressful, but in the end, when they finish, it’s a reward unlike anything else,” Vail said. “These students are really becoming experts in these areas, and that’s what’s so exciting to see in the terms of a forum.” 

Leave a Comment