What is an SMP?
The St. Mary’s Project (SMP) is a year-long, 8-credit, capstone of study at St. Mary’s.
SMPs are an independently designed and executed course of study. Working in close conjunction with one or more professors, in or outside of the department, students have the opportunity to explore, in depth, a question or idea that entrances and intrigues them.
An SMP may take the form of a research paper or a creative expression of the arts. It may include collaborative work and build upon components of internships, study-abroad programs, and other experimental formats, as well as traditional research skills.
The College has established certain guidelines for the SMP:
- It must be student-initiated
- It must demonstrate methodological competence (by identifying an area to be explored and proposing a method of inquiry appropriate for the topic)
- It must draw on and extend knowledge, skills of analysis, and creative achievement developed through previous academic work. It must include a reflection on the social context, the body of literature, or the conceptual framework to which the project is a contribution
- It must be shared with the larger community through some form of public presentation.
First year students and sophomores:
- Consider your interests and keep track of favorite and interesting topics
- Don’t be too specific, keep it broad
- Talk to friends and seniors doing projects.
- Attend SMPs and look over the archives
First semester of junior year:
- Consider whether you want to collaborate with others. Note that collaborating with students will not necessarily make your work load easier
- Think about whether you want to do the project in two 4-credit blocks or employ some other sequence
Second semester of junior year:
- Narrow your choice to one or two topics
- Discuss and develop your topic ideas with faculty members who might be good mentors.
- Talk to the St. Mary’s Career Center if you want to include an off-campus component to your project.
- Decide if you will be collaborating with a fellow student.
- Have a good idea of what you want to do by advising day.
- Select a faculty mentor in the spring semester.
- Submit a formal proposal
- Work closely with your faculty mentor.
- Submit the budget request form by late October (option to resubmit in March).
- Complete research, hands-on experience, written essay, or poster.
- Present in the Spring semester
How to Choose a Topic
- What areas of Economics interest you?
- What are your career interests?
- Do you want a project to include specific experiences such as doing an off-campus internship or conducting on-site research?
- What was your favorite class and why?
- Would a topic from a class be something you would like to pursue further?
Alternative Capstone Experience
As an alternative to the SMP, students must take at least one of the following courses:
- ECON 405: The History of Economic Thought
- ECON 412: U.S. Economic History
- ECON 425: Econometrics
- ECON 459: Senior Seminar in Economics
Highlighted SMP Projects
Alex Cole. “Factors Leading to the Decline of Foreign Market Share in China’s Wind Energy Sector” (mentor: Michael Ye)
Chris Davies. “U.S. and Chinese Exchange Rate Relations: An Analysis of An Undervalued Currency” (mentor: Jia Xu)
Amy Eaton. “Ocean Wave Energy Conversion: The Latest in Renewable Energy” (mentor: Amy Henderson)