thesis focuses on the troubling trends of social isolation and loneliness, teaches us that though we’re more connected than ever through digital means, many of us will suffer as we lose meaningful personal interactions and dynamics in an ever-evolving 21st century.
So, in Thesis, students lean in towards experiences and activities that bind them to one another so that in their bravery and vulnerability, they feel emboldened to take risks, project their voices and open the door for significant and authentic discovery. And our students believe that their discoveries should be shared so that their learning doesn’t merely exist within the walls of our classroom.
More concretely speaking, the Thesis Program is made up of curious and motivated students, 22 juniors and 20 seniors, who wish to pursue independent projects over the span of two years. The junior year Seminar is dedicated to discussion-based classroom experiences that build toward project-based outcomes. The students unpack significant issues relevant to today’s world and are encouraged to “complicate” these issues further and notice the intersections between perspectives. They practice critical thinking by never settling for the simplest, most black and white explanations. These learning experiences eventually lead to the selection of a research topic, which marries their passions with their curiosities. Many months of investigation, drafting, organizing, and discussing ushers in the senior year Thesis course in which students prepare to share their discoveries with their community.
So, to that end, this week three students will share pieces relating to their Thesis projects as a way to initiate conversation.
Finally, save the date for LAUNCH 2019 where you will hear from all the Thesis seniors and others who are interested in sharing their perspectives and projects. February 22 will be a day to celebrate learning and discovery by projecting student voices across campus. For now, I invite you to read these student writers and honor the intention behind their work, which is to prompt discussion, connection, and engagement with one another.
Our Featured Presenters
Student headshots taken by Mason LeFerney
Katie Sutcliffe joined Episcopal in 2011 and currently directs the Thesis Program and teaches Senior English. She is also the co-creator of LAUNCH, Episcopal’s annual TEDx-style student-planned and executed showcase of ideas and projects. Katie holds a Bachelor of Arts in English (Writing) from DePauw University, an MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from the University of Pittsburgh and was a 2005 Teach For America corps member. She has taught English and writing courses for middle and high school students, gifted students and even adults through Osher Lifelong Learning at Pitt. She’s passionate about character education and project-based learning, as well as research and writing that have practical implications for understanding and addressing real world challenges.