The College of Policy Science offers two majors: the Policy Studies (PS) major, which has more than 20 years’ history, and the Community and Regional Policy Studies (CRPS) major, which is an English-based degree program launched in 2013.
The CRPS major produced its first batch of graduates this September, and prior to submission of their final theses, there was an undergraduate thesis symposium with 11 presenters. Each presenter had 25 minutes: 12 minutes for presentation and 13 minutes for a Q&A session. The symposium attracted a large number of attendees who made comments and provided feedback to the presenters. Abu Baker Khan, one of the presenters, commented that the symposium was a wonderful opportunity for the students and that, as a result of receiving comments from his classmates and juniors, he found parts of his thesis that could be improved before submission.
Associate professor Salem Kim Hicks, who suggested holding the symposium, explained its purpose as giving the graduating students a taste of more formal presentation, like a "mock conference":
"As you know, the CRPS major produces its first graduates this year, and they have been working hard on preparing their final theses. As an extension of their work, I thought it would be a good idea to allow them to present their thinking and thesis research to a wider audience. I expected this opportunity would put the students in a different mode. With one week to go before submission, the symposium allowed the presenters to review their work again and incorporate feedback from the attendees into their final theses."
The symposium was open to other CRPS students, PS students and faculty members of the College. Professor Hicks describes its purpose for such students: "The purpose of the symposium for the younger CRPS major students is to give them a chance to see the work of their seniors to ask questions not only about the content of thesis research but also about the research process, and the challenges and successes of conceptualizing, administering and writing up the research."
In the symposium, the third-year students fulfilled their role of offering comments or asking questions, she says. “They were listening to the presentations enthusiastically, and some of them actively provided comments and feedback to the presenters. Through this experience, they were exposed to a wider level of discussion and they learned how to participate in Q&A sessions or give comments to presenters. In contrast, the first-year and second-year students could see several examples of presentation and learn what their peers were doing. I think there was good interaction among the students.”
Overall, the first-ever undergraduate thesis symposium was a big success. The professors gave some advice and help to the students, but the students prepared all by themselves.
In the words of Professor Hicks: “Our students’ presentations were so impressive. They were well-prepared, their presentations were clear and some of them even prepared handouts to the attendees. And they made their presentations in a professional manner. The symposium was a huge success.”
Based on this year’s outcome, the CRPS major symposium will be held again next July.