After Moderation, sociology students are encouraged to explore the wide range of intellectual and practical offerings available through Bard’s extended network. Many students choose to do a semester abroad. This might be through a Bard-affiliated institution (such as the American University of Central Asia, in Kyrgyzstan, or the Central European University, in Austria) or through a tuition-exchange program with an international college or university. Students might also choose to begin an independent research project by arranging a tutorial with a Sociology faculty member. Because the Senior Project is an intensive experience, both in relation to the amount of writing required and the time commitment involved, we encourage students to complete at least one their two required seminars (300-level sociology classes) in their junior year.
Senior Project Spotlight
Sociology major Bernadette Benjamin’s Senior Project focuses on understanding the experiences of black women in Japan and how women within the black diaspora navigate in that country. In her research, the Brooklyn, New York, native concentrates on how black women perceive their identity—whether racial, gender, national, or combined identity—in their interactions and encounters with others. Bernadette utilizes the idea of “controlling images” by Patricia Hill Collins and the book Stigma by Erving Goffman to evaluate the mechanisms black women use to analyze their experiences and sense of belonging in Japanese society. She also takes Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson to explain the citizen-versus-foreigner dichotomy in Japan and how that contrast, in turn, affects black women’s abilities to integrate into Japanese communities.
Bernadette will soon travel to Japan to begin the JET (Japanese Exchange and Teaching) program. She hopes to remain in Japan for two years before prepping to go to law school to study either educational or international law. While her current plans depend on the spread of COVID-19, she is optimistic about the plans she has in store.
Senior Projects in Sociology
Writing a Senior Project is both challenging and incredibly rewarding. For most students, this is their first experience doing extended, independent research. Students are assigned a faculty adviser, with whom they will typically meet weekly for an hour-length session over the course of the academic year. While the prospect of writing a senior thesis is often intimidating at first, students soon realize that this affords them a unique opportunity to form a close relationship with their faculty adviser, and to develop as an independent thinker and researcher. The quality of many Senior Projects is comparable to a master's-level thesis. Even where students end up wishing that they had written more or differently, they always learn valuable life skills from the experience of working through something challenging. In the spring, we host a mini-conference and social event at which all seniors briefly present their Senior Project research. The large attendance and buzzing excitement around recent sociology mini-conferences attest to the level of pride and satisfaction that seniors feel upon completing their research projects.