The senior thesis is the culminating work of Trinity’s Humanities program. It is a summative and integrative project that requires students to use the rhetorical skills developed at all phases of their learning at Trinity to develop a thoughtful and persuasive argument on a chosen topic. Their thesis and topic must be things of depth and significance about which Christians can reasonably disagree.
The thesis is not meant to be, primarily, a research paper. It is an argument which will, as a matter of course, rely on good research to make its argument thoroughly and comprehensively. However, unlike a thesis at the collegiate or graduate level, it is not intended to demonstrate specific knowledge of a field in which the student has particular expertise or training. Rather, it is intended to demonstrate the students’ rhetorical skills that have been trained throughout their Trinity career, and the ability to use the ideas and arguments discussed and evaluated throughout their studies.
The Thesis Process:
Research and Composition
At the beginning of the first semester, students will select a topic to be approved by their teacher. They select a thesis adviser, who will recommend areas of study, provide feedback and editing on research and writing, and be an insightful sounding board, assisting the student with their unique ability and perspective.
After spending a considerable chunk of the year researching, writing and re-writing, the final draft of the thesis will be 20-40 pages, organized according to the principles of classical arrangement and MLA formatting.
Delivery and Defense
After the full-length composition has been submitted, it will then be edited for brevity and effect into a 15-20 minute oration. This oration then will be memorized, practiced, and then delivered before an audience of the Trinity community. Students will be allowed one page of notes as support for their delivery. A panel of judges will evaluate the quality of the presentation, and also question the student on the ideas and arguments presented on the oration, which the student must answer as part of their oral defense.
What these young men and women produce is impressive to say the least. It is college level work and they prove every year that they are more than prepared to enter even the most academically challenging of college environments.