Independent Study & Research

Independent Study

Completing an Independent Study is an excellent way to explore a topic in depth, discover a passion that can become a career, and develop skills that can set you apart when you apply for jobs or graduate study.

If you are interested in completing an Independent Study, please refer to the requirements and application steps below.

Requirements. Minimum overall GPA of 3.0.

Relevant course(s). Single semester independent study project (CJUS/POLI/IR 406, 1 unit), or two-semester independent study project (CJUS/POLI/IR 405 and 407, 0.5 unit each).

Faculty advisor. The student must discuss the project idea with a Public Affairs faculty member and reach an agreement with the faculty member about the scope of the proposed research project.

Application and project proposal. The student must complete an application for Independent Study (available in the Public Affairs office in West Hall 204), and attach a 250 word abstract detailing the scope of the research question, design, and methods of analysis. The project may be based on previous work, e.g., a seminar paper or independent study, but it must represent a significant and original project over and above any past work.  Application

Recent independent studies. A few recent Independent Study projects, including the student, project title, and faculty advisor, are listed below:

Criminal Justice

  • Christie Cash, Where God Stops and Men Begin: The Failure of the U.S. Criminal Justice System to Hold Mormon Fundamentalists Accountable for Their Crimes, (Faculty supervisor: Dr. Todd Peppers)
  • Margaret Anderson, The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program: An Analysis of Policy Successes and Failures, (Faculty supervisor: Dr. Todd Peppers)

Political Science

  • Tyler Hofmann-Reardon, The Role of Political Theory in Practical Government, (Faculty supervisor: Dr. Justin Garrison)

International Relations

  • Lydia Delamatta, Effects of Education on Gender Political Equality across Democratic Countries: Literature Review and Argument, (Faculty supervisor: Dr. Andreea Mihalache-O’Keef)

Honors in the Major

Completing an independent research project for Honors in the Major is a way for students to receive their B.A. degree with a special honors designation: Honors in Political Science, Criminal Justice, or International Relations.

If you are interested in completing independent research to be considered for Honors in the Major, please refer to the requirements and application steps below.

Requirements. Minimum overall GPA of 3.40.

Relevant course(s). Single semester independent study project (CJUS/POLI/IR 496, 1 unit), or two-semester independent study project (CJUS/POLI/IR 495 and 497, 0.5 unit each).

Faculty advisor. The student must discuss the project idea with a Public Affairs faculty member and reach an agreement with the faculty member about the scope of the proposed research project. The student must also discuss the project idea with two additional faculty members who are willing to serve on the honors committee. The faculty supervisor and the committee will read the final research paper and convene after the student’s final presentation to determine a grade for the project.

Application and project proposal. The student must complete an application for Honors in the Major (available in the Public Affairs office in West Hall 204), and attach a 250 word abstract detailing the scope of the research question, design, and methods of analysis. The project may be based on previous work, e.g., a seminar paper or independent study, but it must represent a significant and original project over and above any past work.  Application

Recent Honors in the Major projects. A few recent Honors in the Major projects, including the student, project title, and faculty advisor, are listed below:

Criminal Justice

  • Christopher Besse, The Effectiveness of the Death Penalty: Why the Death Penalty is too Costly, (Faculty supervisor: Dr. Todd Peppers)

Political Science

  • Zahava Urecki, Satirical News Programs are No Joke: How Satirical News Programs like The Daily Show Can Impact the American Public Policy Process, (Faculty supervisor: Dr. Bryan Parsons)

International Relations

  • Mathilda Nassar, Searching for Peace: The Role of the United States in the Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations, 1991-2014, (Faculty supervisor: Dr. Jonathan Snow)
  • Lydia Delamatta, Discrimination Stops Here: How Education Affects Gender Political Equality Across Democratic Nations, (Faculty supervisor: Dr. Andreea Mihalache-O’Keef)
  • Emma von der Lieth, Sexual Violence in Syria: An Analysis of the Perpetrators Involved and Their Tactics and Motives, (Faculty supervisor: Dr. Jonathan Snow)

Summer Scholar Projects

The Summer Scholar Program at Roanoke College is a grant program that enables qualified students to conduct intensive, independent research for eight to twelve weeks during the summer. Each summer scholar works with a faculty mentor who guides the project. Over the course of the summer, students and mentors meet for a series of colloquia to share ideas. At the conclusion of the program, a day is set aside to showcase the work of the student scholars. More information.

Examples of Past Summer Scholar Projects: A few recent Summer Scholar Projects, including the student, project title, and faculty advisor, are listed below:

  • Samantha Garst, The war is over, but will they come? A panel study of FDI in countries recovering from civil conflict  (Faculty supervisor: Dr. Andreea Mihalache-O'Keef)
  • Jessica OwensFailure to Uphold Workers' Human Rights in Mexico: Lessons from the NAFTA for the CAFTA-DR (Faculty supervisor: Dr. Joshua Rubongoya)
  • Olivia League, Congress Members and Gun Control: Do Shooting-Related Focusing Events Influence Congress Member's Attitudes Towards Gun Regulation?  (Faculty supervisor: Dr. Todd Peppers)
  • Haley Toresdahl, Judicial Retention Elections and Judicial Impartiality: A Case Study of the Iowa Supreme Court (Faculty supervisor: Dr. Todd Peppers)