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Geography Major Capstone Project Descriptions

As part of Georgia College’s commitment to community service and learning outside the classroom, the Capstone Project for the B.A. in Geography degree is intended to provide graduating students with an opportunity to put their learning into practice in a way that demonstrates a geographic concern for society.  Working with a faculty advisor, the student may choose between six capstone options.  Each option serves to help students integrate the geography program goals, and each provides a chance for students to incorporate their work into a senior portfolio.

    1. Senior Thesis (GEOG 4970)— Geography Majors may choose to do a senior thesis, or exploratory research paper, on a subject of their choosing (with approval by advisor).  This should be an investigatory project built around a central and narrow geographic (physical, human, environmental, methodological) topic.  The thesis should be organized with the following components: a) an introduction (with topic statement or research question) b) body of research essay and contextualization of project/literature review (cites geographic literature as well as appropriate sources outside the discipline), and c) conclusion (with a statement about the importance of the research topic).  Expectations of length are in the 20- 30 page range, subject to the discretion of the advising faculty and student. This research paper should highlight the geographic principles and spatial processes at work within the broader discussion and should demonstrate an understanding of the importance of the topic at different scales.  Students should use the citation style used by the Annals of the Association of American Geographers by citing both in text and with a works cited or bibliography.  Students are expected to present their work in an academic setting and incorporate it into a senior portfolio.
    2. Research Paper (GEOG 4970)— Geography Majors may choose to do an original research project by designing and conducting a geographic study and collecting data (subject to approval by an advisor).  It is expected that the research project will have broader importance and will contribute to geographic scholarship.  Students may choose to do any number of types of research—collecting data about the physical landscape (using available instruments to collect additional information), collecting quantitative or qualitative data about human subjects, or conducting research that integrates human and physical geography in some way.  Students are expected to prepare and present a research paper of between 10 and 15 pages in length (subject to the discretion off the advising faculty and student).  This research project should highlight the geographic principals and spatial processes at work and demonstrate an understanding of the importance of the topic at different scales.  Students should use the citation style used in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers by citing both in text and with a works cited or bibliography.  Students are expected to present their work in an academic setting and incorporate it into a senior portfolio.  If the student is conducting research on campus or in the community by interviewing, Institutional Review Board approval must be obtained prior to the initiation of the research project.
    3. Study Abroad (GEOG 4980)— Geography Majors may choose to participate in a study abroad trip of at least one month in duration to one or more countries outside the United States (subject to approval by an advisor). Geography majors may participate in an organized study abroad with other students or they may design their own independent study abroad experience. The study abroad course must be in addition to any other courses taken during the experience.  A typical workload for this requirement would include an annotated bibliography, expectation paper, field notes and daily journal, and a short research paper upon return.  The research paper should draw on first-hand observations of the physical and/or cultural landscapes of their study region, and go beyond landscape description to highlight evolving spatial patterns and processes. Students are expected to present the discoveries of their study abroad in an academic setting and incorporate their work into a senior portfolio.
    4.  Internship (GEOG 4960)— Geography Majors may choose to develop an internship experience of at least three months (subject to approval by an advisor). The internship should be organized and approved prior to the semester of implementation.  Students may contract to complete their internship with a wide variety of government or non-governmental agencies, geographic industries, non-profit organizations, or academic institutions.  A typical workload for this requirement would include a preliminary survey paper describing the academic setting of the internship and its related field, a weekly journal of concepts, workload, and reflections, and a summary research report based on following the completion of the activity.  The research report should link the student’s personal experience to the evolving spatial patterns and processes related to working in that field. Students are expected to present the discoveries of their internship in an academic setting and incorporate their work into a senior portfolio.
    5. Teaching Practicum (GEOG 4960)— Geography Majors may choose to develop a teaching practicum in a local middle or high school with at least three months of engagement (subject to approval by an advisor). The practicum should be organized and approved prior to the semester of implementation.  While the actual instructional experience may only provide a few days or weeks of classroom contact, the practicum should include a full semester of preparation and interaction with the mentor and school.  A typical workload for this requirement would include a preliminary survey paper describing the academic expectations of the classroom, a summary of educational aids and associations, a weekly journal of concepts, workload, and reflections, actual lesson plans, activities, and assessments, and a summary research report following the completion of the experience.  The research report should link the student’s personal experience to the evolving geographic concepts related to teaching at the chosen grade level.  Students are expected to present the results of their practicum in an academic setting and incorporate their work into a senior portfolio
    6. Applied Study (GEOG 4940; requires permission of Program Coordinator)— Geography Majors may choose to develop an applied study project working toward the completion of a major geographic task, such as developing a computer software program, building a web site, conducting a site assessment, developing a workshop, or other similar undertaking (subject to approval by an advisor AND the geography program coordinator).  The guiding concept behind this capstone project is that a substantial amount of time will be spent collecting data, processing information, and/or writing computer code or web pages.  The basic approach is similar to that of a research paper, but students may describe their work in the format of a research note, somewhat shorter than a research paper (subject to the discretion off the advising faculty and student).  The applied study should develop the geographic principals and spatial processes at work and demonstrate an understanding of the importance of the topic at different scales.  Students are expected to present their work in an academic setting and incorporate it into a senior portfolio.

 

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