“When you know better, you do better.”  — Maya Angelou

As a culminating experience, Penn Civic Scholars complete a capstone research project in the spring of their senior year, reflecting the program’s principle of mutually reinforcing civic engagement and academic work.

What is the goal of the Civic Scholars Capstone Project?
The capstone project is an in-depth research experience focusing on a social issue of interest to the scholar which results in public, social, or organizational policy recommendations. Although students will be encouraged to situate their research in Philadelphia on such subjects as healthcare, education, housing, poverty, social stratification, gender inequality, environmental issues, and racial and ethnic relations, the research can also be based in other geographic locations and/or historical contexts.

What is the format of the Capstone Project?
The capstone project is usually based on an extended paper for a course, an in-depth case study on a project or organization, or a senior thesis submitted to a major. Although we do expect students to include a unique component with policy recommendations for the Civic Scholars Program, it does not have to be a stand-alone project and can be tied into an existing research project. Students also write a brief abstract derived from their research for wider dissemination.

What is the timeline for the Capstone Project?
The capstone project is completed through a multi-year preparatory process.

Junior Year (Fall & Spring Semesters): Students in the program participate in a capstone workshop series during which they are guided in conceptualizing ideas for the capstone project and ultimately submit proposals for their research. During this time, they are also aided in identifying faculty mentors to guide their research.

Senior Year: Students typically complete the majority of their research and writing during the fall semester of their senior year. During this time, they will continue to participate in the capstone workshop series. Capstone Projects are reviewed, edited, and finalized during the first half of the spring semester of the senior year.

Note: Students interested in studying abroad are encouraged to do so. We will work with students to ensure that they are up to date with the capstone process before, during, and after an abroad experience.

What if there is no thesis requirement for a school or major?
If a Civic Scholar is not required or able to integrate the capstone project into a major thesis, we will work with the student to develop a plan and make recommendations.  Most often this includes an independent study in the spring semester of junior year or fall semester of senior year, which is strongly encouraged for students doing their research independent of a major.

More questions about the Capstone Project?
Contact Civic Scholars staff at 215-898-4831 or email Arlene Fernandez, Associate Director of the Civic Scholars Program.