Capstone Seminar (PPE 475 and 476)
The Capstone seminar is the highest level class offered by PPE for our majors. It is intended to offer the advanced student a quasi-graduate environment where they are exposed to the frontiers of research on the subject, while also providing them with a comprehensive overview of the topic. In the 'worksheets' of students, the Capstone appears as the last credit needed to complete the major.
For a description of where Capstone courses fit in the structure of the major, please visit this page. Note that PPE students may also take several Capstone seminars as theme electives, if appropriate (please consult with the PPE Associate Director).
Classes are typically conducted in seminar fashion, meeting once a week for 3 hours, and discussing papers. Students are required to write a final paper in the class. This paper is not to be confused with the honors paper, which is a distinct requirement available to those who meet the conditions for honors.
Students typically do several of the following things: Make presentations about articles or chapters, discuss each others' presentations, write brief reaction papers to articles they read, and write a term paper.
Goals for Capstone Courses
1. The student should be able to accurately and clearly summarize what someone else said in a scholarly article. This requires basic understanding of the article's field, as well as the ability to write or speak clearly.
2. The student should be able to raise and evaluate arguments on both sides of issues that an author has raised.
3. The student should be able to criticize, but without being unfair, without setting up straw men, and without neglecting possible counter-arguments to the criticism.
4. The student should be able to give a presentation. If visual aids are used, the student should be aware of issues that might arise, such as the dangers of simply putting an outline on slides and then reading it, or the benefits of including true visual aids such as graphs and tables.
5. In the final paper, at least, the student should be able to synthesize some reading into a position, which is then defended against possible objections. The student should know how to search efficiently for relevant literature.
Recent Capstone Courses
A list of the Capstone courses we have offered in the recent past, along with course summaries, are available here.