Last Friday I had my Honors Colloquium and presented my research publicly (at least in a lecture format) for the first time. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Honors Colloquiums at the College, I’ll briefly outline their primary purpose, which is twofold:
- To allow students to have a “practice” or preliminary defense. Since the student must present their research for 20 minutes and then answer questions for 10, the format follows an abbreviated and less rigorous version of an honors thesis defense. Yet in reality an Honors Colloquium has no consequences on the thesis grade, and in fact many times not all of the thesis committee members are even able to attend.
- To provide an opportunity for other students and the public at large to learn about what students have been researching. Now, to be frank, the Honors Colloquiums that I have attended have rarely garnered large crowds, but it is nice for the presenter’s close friends to be able to see what has inevitably been stealing their friend from their company for many late nights of thesis work.
Additionally, perhaps I should insert a third reason – the Charles Center offers you a free, bound copy of your thesis if you agree to participate in the Colloquium. Although it will be exciting to eventually hold a bound copy of this paper I have worked so hard on, I did not agree to present at the Colloquium for this reason. A friend of mine who graduated last year and also wrote an honors thesis played a key role in persuading me. I had wavered initially after the invitation arrived – feeling nervous at the prospect of formally presenting my work so soon. Yet my friend explained to me that her Colloquium pushed her to make definitive progress on her thesis, and I now feel exactly the same.
I felt that the Colloquium aided me by compelling me to truly determine what exactly I wanted to say and then gaining feedback on this argument. Additionally, I felt having a hard deadline for a formal presentation pushed me to work on some of the GIS aspects of my research to ensure I had the necessary maps and images.
So to conclude, and give you, dear reader, a glimpse into my research as well, I’ll leave you with the briefest summary of my thesis possible, found on one of my concluding slides:
✵The City of Bethlehem human geography is linked to a Bethlehem Steel Company influenced spatial arrangement and history.
✵Thus Bethlehem’s zoning refers to a specific history and narrative – that of Bethlehem Steel.
✵This is to assert Bethlehem’s continued relevance and a sense of self-worth.