As part of the Humanities and Arts Signature Program, the Senior Independent Project (SIP) allows seniors at this school to research and design a project on their chosen topic. The SIP represents the students’ four years at this school and is meant to be a way to prepare for the future.
Students are able to learn about the process of writing a college research paper through the project, which takes up the entire first semester. The process includes writing a proposal, outline, rough draft, and toward the end of the given three to four months, a final is submitted.
Seniors can choose to write an 18 to 20 page research paper as their final project. The option of instead writing an eight to 10 page research paper is allowed, but only with the addition of a creative project
Senior Mina Senthil created an SIP on the negative impacts of the Volunteer Tourist industry (Voluntourism). People in the industry, most of whom are high school or undergraduate students, are given the opportunity to help people in developing countries during their journey abroad in fields such as humanitarian or construction work. Senthil’s SIP was a 32 page paper, which included works cited and appendices. “I argue this industry actually helps spread negative stigmas about developing countries, commodifies altruistic endeavors as a purchasable experience and harms native communities,” Senthil said.
Senior Robert Summers-Berger’s SIP is about the relationship between the mind and the way spoken language is produced. Summers-Berger learned about a language called Pirahã as part of his project. “Even though we think in English (or whatever language we speak), most of our mental machinery functions regardless of our language,” Summers-Berger said.
Other than his research paper, Summers-Berger also wrote and performed a play about two researchers seeking to define the relationship between cognition and language. He studied Pirahã and interviewed a linguistics professor at the University of Maryland.“The play took about four months to put together, plus two months of rehearsal, whereas the paper [took] about three months total,” Summers-Berger said.
For her SIP, senior Esha Mittal researched how Bollywood dance has changed over time. The project included a research paper and a dance performance Mittal choreographed. “Bollywood dance was just a speculation. It was nice to see how it has evolved,” Mittal said.
The SIP was designed in order to give seniors a taste of what a college assignment may be like and prepares them for skills expected by universities.