General Education Program

Course Syllabus  Senior Seminar

Interdisciplinary Studies - IDST 4490

Hours: 3 Semester Credit Hours


Senior standing (75 + credit hours successfully completed) and 31 general education program hours (including ethics)


This course provides an opportunity for students to place their chosen fields of study in an interdisciplinary context with intellectual, ethical, and historical perspectives. The seminar focuses on the synthesis and integration of various concepts by applying them to the analysis and solution of problems viewed in the context of their academic disciplines. The seminar topic will be determined by the instructor. The following is a summary of the seminar course.

Summary Information

  1. Research on an approved topic
  2. Class participation and mini-presentations of assigned readings
  3. Development of a thesis statement and defense of it in class
  4. Final oral and written presentations of seminar papers (including abstracts)
  5. Completion of GEP assessment forms



Senior Seminar, the senior-level capstone requirement of the University's General Education Program (GEP), is designed to benefit students from all four-year majors. This course seeks to:

  1. Provide students with the opportunity to improve critical thinking skills by writing and orally defending a persuasive research paper in which arguments counter to the stated position are addressed.
  2. Provide students with the opportunity to improve oral communication skills by giving two formal oral presentations.
  3. Provide students with the opportunity to develop skills in writing to a general audience as opposed to writing to a specific audience as typically occurs in courses for the major.
  4. Provide students with the opportunity to strengthen information literacy skills in order to be able to recognize when information is needed and to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.
  5. Provide students with an opportunity to view their own disciplines, their intended careers, and their lives in the larger contexts of life-long learning, society at large, and their place in, and responsibilities to, the biosphere.
  6. Bring together students and faculty members from diverse academic fields to reflect on their college careers, to integrate what they have learned with the experiences of others, and to apply their education to the study of a significant national or international condition, problem or event.



  1. Assignments :

    1. Readings: A seminar topic will be determined by the instructor. Students will be required to give mini-presentations of readings, related to the seminar topic, as directed by the instructor.
    2. Thesis statement and outline: The student will prepare a thesis statement and outline of the paper topic for discussion in class and submission with the final paper.
    3. Consultations: Students will consult with the instructor, both in and out of class, at each phase of development of the seminar paper.
    4. Seminar paper: The student will develop a major paper relating to the seminar theme and present it in oral and written form. The oral presentation time will be scheduled by the instructor.

  2. Class Participation:
    All students are expected to participate in the discussion of topics throughout the course. It is recommended that students read their assignments and make notes on issues they want to raise in class before each session.

  3. Attendance Policy :
    Regular attendance is expected; more than 9 hours of missed class will result in dismissal from the seminar with a failing grade.

  4. Assessment:
    During the course, assessment forms, possibly including an essay component, will be distributed to each seminar student. All students are expected to complete the forms in class and return them to the directing faculty member.



Students are expected to take Senior Seminar for a grade.

Students must receive a passing grade on the final paper to pass the course.

The final grade will be based on the following:

Class participation 15%

Seminar oral report 25%

Seminar paper 60%



The seminar course will begin with an overview of the seminar topic by the directing instructor. There will be a hands-on computer lab session to acquaint students with advanced electronic data search techniques. Various guest faculty members may make presentations. Immediately, students will begin reading from selected sources relating to the theme chosen for the seminar and begin thinking about the selection of the specific topics for their own papers and oral reports. Research for the bibliography for the topic will encompass much of the first two weeks. Open discussions of the readings and thesis statements will occupy some of the early and middle portions of the semester. As needed, students will consult with the directing instructor or other cooperating faculty to solve problems and finalize details relating to their own presentations. During the latter part of the semester, students will deliver oral presentations of their seminar papers with questions and discussions following each report. Submission of the written paper will be required by or before the end of the semester.



Students choose topics according to their interests and/or disciplines within the seminar theme, subject to the approval of the directing instructor. The topic, thesis statement and outline of the paper must be approved by the directing instructor.

The seminar paper is expected to be an interdisciplinary exercise. The analysis of the topic should integrate knowledge or ideas from more than two disciplines and be written in your own words. Quotations, tables, etc. must be acknowledged by complete references to their sources. The papers must be persuasive essays, include counter arguments, and be written to a general audience.

Plagiarism is the act of presenting another's words or ideas as your own writing without acknowledging your debt to the original source. Plagiarism can include not only quoted material that is not cited and credited but also summaries or paraphrases of material that are not cited and credited. Plagiarism can also include submitting a paper that someone else wrote or a paper that was substantially revised by someone else. Plagiarism can be unintentional as well as intentional. To avoid plagiarism, submit your own work and be sure to credit sources and properly cite them.

Plagiarism constitutes academic misconduct according to university policy. The consequences of plagiarism include a failing grade for the Senior Seminar paper and a failing grade for the course.

Note: Seminar Paper Awards

Outstanding seminar papers will be selected by a faculty committee for special recognition. Each paper submitted in any given academic year, to any Senior Seminar section, will be considered for this honor.

(a)Written seminar paper :

The written seminar paper includes an outline, a body of analysis, and a bibliography. It can also include appendices. It should be typed in double space and include 5,000 words or more of essay text without counting the outline, bibliography, and appendices. Students must submit an electronic copy of the final paper to the professor along with two paper copies.

(b)Oral presentation :

Students, faculty members, administrators, and staff are invited to attend the oral presentations. The presentations will be for 20-30 minutes, followed by comments and questions by the attendees. All seminar students are expected to make comments and raise questions.

Each participant will submit a one page typed abstract of the seminar paper to the faculty member in charge before the presentations begin. The student presentations follow a short lecture format. They are not to be treated as readings from the papers. No oral presentations will be scheduled for students who fail to follow the prior requirements of the seminar presentations.



  1. General research on a paper topic
  2. Written submission of topic for instructor approval
  3. Development of a thesis statement
  4. Written submission of thesis statement for instructor approval
  5. Mini-presentations of readings
  6. Development of a paper outline
  7. Written submission of outline and of bibliography
  8. Continuing research and consultation with instructor
  9. Submission of typed abstract before presentation
  10. Oral presentation of paper topics
  11. Submission of written paper

General Education Program

Contact Information

Michael Barnhart, Director

Phone: (740) 351-3212

Vern Riffe Center for the Arts
Shawnee State University
940 Second Street
Portsmouth, OH 45662

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