The SMP is a year-long, 8 credit capstone at St. Mary’s. The project is focused around a student-chosen topic, and can take different forms that fit the project’s objectives: research essay, video, podcast, creative writing, community-based project, or oral history, for example.
Students work closely with a professor as they continue to explore the chosen topic. As the project progresses, students can include study abroad and internship experience, and other experimental formats mixed with traditional research skills.
The project allows students to tailor the major according to their own needs by pursuing their interests in one or more subfields of study: literary or cultural analysis, creative writing, linguistics, translation, foreign language pedagogy, etc. In preparation for the SMP, all majors enroll in a St. Mary’s Project Workshop in the junior year, which exposes them to the different subfields of study and helps them refine their research skills. At the end of their senior year, they present their project to students and faculty in the department.
Examples of recent International Languages and Cultures SMP topics
- Sophie Bernheisel: “‘Tes Papiers!’: French Police and the Weaponization of the Rhetoric of Frenchness”
- Alana Demones: “Black and White: How Language Reflects Colorism in China”
- Alejandra Diaz: “The Cultural, Economic and Educational Impact in Latin America of Technology in the Age of Globalization: Latin America as Adopter and Agent of Technology Development”
- Sarah Kimball: “Linguistic Imperialism: The Effect of Language and Educational Policy on China’s Soft Power”
- Hannah Murphy: “Thinking Transcends Translation: Developing Critical Thinking Skills in the Home Language for Cross Linguistic Transfer”
- Jamie Ourand: “Acculturation in Cultural Assimilation: Latinx Immigration Experience from the Perspective of Critical Emotion Studies”
- Nadine Postolache: “¡Cuéntame un cuento! Multicultural Education and Identity Development”
First Year and Sophomore Year
- Consider your interests and keep track of favorite and interesting topics.
- Note the underlying big cultural questions in your courses. Which capture your imagination? Which would you like to pursue?
- Articulate your interests in research questions you are curious to answer.
- Don’t be too specific, initially keep it broad. Consider topics that give you insight into other cultural perspectives on the issue you are are exploring.
- Talk to friends and seniors doing projects.
- Attend SMP presentations and look over the archives.
- Begin to narrow your choice to one or two potential topics. Talk with your ILC professors about your tentative ideas and incorporate their feedback.
- If you are interested in a particular non-written format, such as oral history, community collaboration, or digital media, take a course that will prepare you for that methodology. Your ILC professor can give you suggestions.
- What are your career interests? How could your SMP build your knowledge, hone certain skills, or otherwise prepare you for your future professional life? How can the SMP become a vehicle for transition to graduate school or your career?
- Take ILCT 393, The St. Mary’s Project Seminar, a two-credit course required of ILC majors where you define a topic and methodology, create a proposal and initial bibliography, and identify an SMP mentor.
- Work closely with your faculty mentor, beginning at the end of the semester before the SMP.
- The SMP is typically completed as 4 credits in the fall semester of your senior year and 4 in the spring semester. Speak with your mentor if there is a reason to divide the credits differently or start in a different semester.
- If you anticipate your project costs will exceed $200, submit the budget request form by late October (option to resubmit in March).
- Complete and present your project during your final semester.