Thesis Information for Mentors
Information for Mentors of Justice and Peace Studies (JUPS) Thesis Projects
If you are reading this memo, then you likely have been approached by a JUPS senior for your advisement as a faculty mentor for their thesis project. The JUPS program has prepared this memo in the hope of clarifying for all constituents the role of a thesis mentor in order to provide some uniformity to the experience of students in the program. The JUPS program asks you to accept the thesis mentor role only if you are familiar and comfortable with the proposed topic and also have the time to mentor.
Students majoring in Justice and Peace Studies at Georgetown University have the option to complete a thesis by registering for an independent study (JUPS 302) of 1 to 3 credits in the Spring of their senior year. Over the course of the spring semester, JUPS seniors will be arranging to meet with their faculty mentors (for each credit 16 hours of contact time are recommended) to discuss their work and progress with the goal of completing the thesis by the end of April.
First Initial Meeting with Mentor
You should expect that the student has come prepared with a list of relevant courses taken in preparation for the project, a thesis project overview, a working bibliography, and confidence that you can be helpful to their efforts. In general, the mentor’s initial task is to provide information regarding research sources – particularly current books, articles, and journals that are relevant to the project. While it isn’t necessary for you to be an expert in their specific topic, you feel comfortable guiding the inquiry and providing structure for the student’s efforts. The most effective mentors often are those who ask JUPS seniors questions that move their thinking and writing forward.
The final grade for Independent study JUPS 302 is awarded as with other classes and follows the same deadlines and guidelines. Upon thesis completion, the faculty mentor will assess the work and the final grade is provided. JUPS faculty are available to consult at any point in the process if clarifications are needed regarding assessment.
Thesis Style and Length
The JUPS thesis will generally be at least 60 pages (or the equivalent), although this length depends on the methodology, research questions, and format of the project – for instance, a student may pursue a project-based thesis, in which part of the work includes creating e.g. a curriculum, a business plan, an artistic creation, a multimedia artifact, etc. The precise length of the thesis and relevant content/format are discussed between the Mentor and student, and comprises part of the course agreement.
Role of Mentor
The role of the mentor varies from student to student, project to project. At the very least, the thesis mentor commits to meetings, progress check ins, providing guidance throughout the thesis writing process, allocating readings and resources, and providing feedback. Faculty mentors will read the first full draft of the thesis turned in by the student no later than mid-March and then submit feedback to the student no later than early April. The student revises and resubmits the thesis to the mentor, and the mentor submits the grade (as with other courses at GU). The mentor-student relationship can take various forms, is flexible, and will in most cases be more dynamic than simply reading and grading a final written thesis. In previous cases, for instance: the mentor and student created a chapter-by chapter feedback plan; the mentor and student met on a regular schedule to discuss drafts, concerns, and issues; the student’s thesis was complementary to the mentor’s research and thus advisement was delivered through other venues (project meetings, conferences, community events, etc.); or the student and mentor met on a “various dates” basis as determined by the student and mentor. It is the responsibility of the mentor and student to create and agree upon a plan that both parties can honor. Students are advised to prepare themselves to address and seek the mentor’s assistance in the following areas: (1) difficulties encountered in finding and incorporating relevant and useful sources; (2) focusing, clarifying, and augmenting the specific question and scope of the paper; (3) assessing the logic of arguments developed as pertaining to the research and data presented; (4) discussing possible counterarguments and developing ways to address and respond to them; (5) exploring potential venues for presentation, publication, or other forms of public articulation.
The JUPS faculty and Senior Seminar instructors are available to support JUPS 302 students in their thesis process, serving as a complement to the thesis mentor. Toward the end of the spring term there will be a concluding JUPS Senior Awards Ceremony (to which mentors are invited) to honor our graduates (dates TBA). While we are not able to offer compensation to mentors at this time, we wish to express our profound gratitude for your support of our learning community.
How A JUPS THesis Is Different
In general, the Program on Justice and Peace gives a great deal of academic freedom (and responsibility) to the thesis mentors. Similarly, we give our seniors great freedom to shape their thesis projects. There is no set guideline for what a thesis looks like, except that it should be the equivalent of at least 60 pages. The theses come in a wide range of writing styles and formats, and the style/voice/format depends on the student’s particular topic and mode of inquiry. At the same time, we expect students to adhere to all academic standards and produce scholarship of the highest quality.
Some specific areas to consider in evaluating JUPS student work may include (additional information on evaluation guidelines will be provided at a later date):
· Grammar and structure: Mentors often give feedback on grammar and structure, and expect students to take that into consideration for their final product. A mentor’s primary job, however, is not to be an editor. Seniors should get editing/grammar help elsewhere if the need exceeds the mentor’s capacity. A JUPS thesis should balance substance and style to comprise an effective final product.
· Framework: The transdisciplinary field of Justice and Peace Studies is normative and thus value-laden. Some of the major values that undergird our teaching/research in the JUPS program are Nonviolence, Social Justice, Human Rights, Conflict Transformation, and Restorative Justice. Against this backdrop, the specific framework or “lens” that the student is using should be clear and consistent, and grounded with the larger JUPS field(s). It might appear to some readers unfamiliar with the field as being “subjective” or “biased” – but the JUPS framework is inherently values-oriented and is about respecting the potential and dignity of all people and cultures.
· Positionality: thesis students need to be clear on their positionality – that is, both their methodologies and “who they are” as it impacts how and what they research, and why. Students are encouraged to blend personal voice with scholarly investigations of their topics. The location of the research with regard to the subject of inquiry is critical to evaluating the work, representing a dynamic that is reflexive, iterative, and process-oriented.
· Ethics and IRB: In all cases, students will need to be cognizant of and conversant with research ethics appropriate to the field and their subject of inquiry. In addition to a “do no harm” ethos, it is also contemplated that students strive to “do some good” with their research projects. In some cases, IRB review and/or approval may be warranted (more information is available at: https://ora.georgetown.edu/irb). JUPS faculty are available to assist with this process at any point.
· Process: JUPS students know that their process (meeting with mentor, responding to feedback, being in touch, taking responsibility, meeting deadlines, working with others) all affects the final product. In the JUPS program, we emphasize the notion of “peaceful ends through peaceful means” – and the same holds true for research: “peace research through peaceful methods.”
Again, on behalf of the entire JUPS program, we are incredibly grateful for your service as a thesis mentor!
Justice and Peace Studies (JUPS) Program Coordinators,
Randall Amster, firstname.lastname@example.org
Elham Atashi, email@example.com