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The Capstone Project is the culmination of a student's work in the Arab Crossroad Studies (ACS) major. It is a substantial work of written scholarship that enables students to explore and make a scholarly contribution to areas of particular personal interest. Students are expected to work on the Capstone project throughout the senior year. The final project is expected to be a polished and professional example of scholarly research and writing at its best.
- Length and Format
- Research Strategies
The length of a Capstone project in ACS is between 15,000 and 25,000 words (approximately 60 to 100 pages), plus a signed cover page, a one-page abstract, a table of contents, and a bibliography of primary and secondary sources.
Students are free to organize the analysis in various ways; it may be useful to think about dividing the Capstone project into “chapters,” for instance, an introduction, a literature review, a theoretical and/or methodological overview, and 3-4 chapters that deal substantively with the posed question, followed by a conclusion. Regardless of the internal structure of the Capstone project, careful attention to argument and organizational clarity is paramount in a project of such scope.
The introduction must give a clear overview of the project's thesis, the major questions informing (and motivating) its analysis, and its overall goals. Each chapter or sub-section must also be explicit about its particular thesis, as well as its relation to the project as a whole.
The Capstone project addresses a significant question pertaining to the study of the Arab Crossroads, broadly construed. While the organizational strategy of the work depends on the student’s interests, it is important to spend time carefully thinking through the topic in question, testing its relevance against contemporary critical and theoretical models, and insuring that its scope is appropriate (not too large, not too small) for a project of this size.
As the Capstone is a research project that could draw principally on one or more disciplines from either Arts and Humanities (Literature, History, Visual Arts, Philosophy, Theater, Music, Film) or Social Science (Sociology, Anthropology, Political Science, Economics), the organization of the work and the types of questions asked will vary considerably according to the disciplines that are brought to bear on the Arab Crossroads. The Capstone project should demonstrate erudition and rigor in its field of study.
Theoretical approaches to the central questions of the Capstone project are determined by the student’s own particular question and the discipline(s) that she or he is drawing on. Any theoretical approach is only a tool; students should not slavishly adhere to a paradigm at the expense of critical rigor.
Students should begin their preliminary research by surveying recent critical titles, from both journals and books, and familiarizing themselves with the basic works that relate to the question at hand. Faculty members in ACS can also provide useful advice for drafting a proposal. The faculty adviser will ultimately be helpful in shaping the research strategies appropriate for each particular project, but it is the final responsibility of the Capstone writer to demonstrate an awareness of critical discourses surrounding the topic, author, or text(s) in question.
Preparing the Capstone Proposal
As you begin thinking about submitting your Capstone proposal, it is imperative that you acquire and are able to present a good sense of the state of scholarship on the question you intend to pursue. Because of the many disciplines that ACS draws on, it is difficult to refer students to any one database to get a sense of the field you will be working in, and this is reflected in the wide variety of databases gathered by the library under Middle East Studies. Index Islamicus also attempts to catalog all references relating to the Middle East and Muslim World.
Evaluating the Proposal
After ACS majors have submitted their Capstone proposals, the ACS faculty will read and discuss them. Regardless of what discipline you are working within, and what subject, period, or area you end up choosing to examine, what we are looking for in your proposal is a clear rationale for your Capstone. What is your question? Why is it important? How does it build on or critique previous work on this subject?; Your ability to clearly articulate answers to these questions will go a long way to preparing yourself for your Capstone work your senior year. Note: it would be disingenuous of us not to admit that your ability to work on a specific Capstone project will be influenced by the availability of ACS faculty. If you wish to work on a subject for which no suitable faculty member will be available, you will be asked to submit another proposal.
Working with an Adviser
Following the submission of the Capstone proposal spring of junior year, the ACS faculty will make every effort to pair you with an appropriate faculty adviser. Once you have been assigned to a faculty adviser, she or he will work with you as a supervisor and consultant throughout the process of writing the project. While the student is expected to have a great deal of independence in the construction and execution of this project, the adviser should be seen as a resource who can provide information and feedback over the course of the senior year. Students should use the adviser for guidance in their research, not as a substitute for research, and should schedule regular meetings on a weekly or a bi-weekly basis with the adviser throughout the process.
The Final Draft
The final draft of the Capstone project should be presented as the professional endeavor that it is. It should be carefully proofread, and contain bibliographical material and consistent footnote citations. The Capstone project adviser will be asked for a written evaluation of the project, and it will also be sent to one or more additional faculty members for an outside evaluation. Students should take care, then, that the argument, evidence, and methodological strategies are presented clearly and in language comprehensible to any reader in the field.
Sample Capstone Projects
Student Name Capstone Project Rend Beiruti
What’s Behind the Facelift: Investigating the Modification of Dubai’s ‘Age-Old’ Corner Stores
Clara Bicalho Maia Correia
The Effect of Social Ties and Recruitment Agencies on Wages: A Case Study of Ugandan Migrants in the United Arab Emirates (joint with Political Science)
Clare Hennig The ‘Red Line’ of Journalism: Shifting Visions of the Media in the UAE
Emma Leathley Wars of Words: How UAE Think Tanks Use War on Terrorism Discourse to Produce Knowledge and Promote Policy
Margit N. Lindgren
Progress, Freedom and Social Justice: Leftist Resistance in the Kuwaiti Rentier State (1940-2016)
Rewriting Alamut: Modernization and the Revision of Communal Narratives within the Shi’a Nizari Community (joint with Literature)
John Scaccia Navigating Shari’a and Capital: Islamic Banking in the UAE
Reinventing the Past and Managing the Future: Legitimizing the state through national history in the UAE social studies textbooks
Compounding British Interests in Zanzibar: Accounting for Continuities between the Sultanate and Protectorate