2020 Senior Essays and Schedule

All faculty and students are welcome to attend any of the senior essay seminars. To attend, click on the word Zoom for each student and you will be taken to the online seminar. Assigned faculty and student readers can download a copy of an essay (when they become available) by clicking on its title. 

Click here for a schedule calendar; there will no doubt be some adjustments, so check often for updates. Please notify Tutor Alexis Doval right away of any problems. 

Senior Essay Seminars
Ornella Raissa
Storytelling is a powerful tool because stories shape our ethics and ethos. This thesis will explain how our ethics are a reflection of our ethos. Additionally an analysis of storytellers such as: Plato, Plutarch, John Milton, and Dr. King will be done to demonstrate how storytellers are capable of influencing our character which ultimately allows our ethics to be transformed.
Date: April 17
Time: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Location: Zoom 
Advisor: Arndt / Zepeda
Faculty Reader: Noah Friedman-Biglin
Student Reader: Nicholas Pappas

Sustainable Farming: Looking Into the Past In Order to Change the Future

Most of us are well aware that throughout the next few decades humans will be faced with major environmental crises and the main focus of my generation will be; how to react and adapt to this changing world. Therefore, with this essay I will attempt to define the term “nature,” while showing how human nature has veered far away from it. Philosopher Rudolf Steiner created the term “biodynamic farming,” which means to produce food in a way that is in harmony with nature. Many texts allude to this way of living, persuading us to live in harmony with nature instead of attempting to manipulate it for our convenience. This leads to the issue of food production as a cultural issue, in that the way we grow our crops is similar to the way we live our lives. In our society we feel as though we need to make ourselves into single-function machines, but that has created an anxious, gluttonous population. This essay proposes remedies to our detrimental ways of thinking and living, in order that we may live longer and in a more harmonious relationship with the earth.

Date: Mon. April 20
Time: 1:00pm
Location: Zoom 
Advisor Zapeda
Faculty Reader: Martinez
Student Reader: Corfield
At one point or another most of us have wondered if there were something more out there. Is there a reason that nature acts the way it does or why we all seem to have these innate ideas about the good or the bad in the world. Two authors provide us with an opportunity to explore these ideas further while attempting to prove that there is indeed something 'more' and that it goes by the name of God. This essay will stretch your understanding and force you to question what you think you know. Ask yourselves before you begin, do you believe?
Date: Wed. April 22
Time: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Location: Zoom
Advisor: Bird
Faculty Reader: Zepeda
Student Reader: Jungert

Why Aristotelian Persuasion is Timelessly Applicable

This essay discusses the timeless nature of persuasion as explained in Aristotle's philosophy. By exploring the ties between Aristotle and Plato’s arguments, there is an evident relationship between the past notion of individual “happiness” to the concept of the society’s objective to attain the “good.” Through the “good,” and some foundational elements of rhetoric, Aristotle constructs a clear model of persuasion that can be used to analyze successful speeches throughout different cultures, time periods and languages. Specifically analyzing Pericles’ “Funeral Oration,” the soliloquy in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “To be, or not to be….,” and Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address,” Aristotle’s model of persuasion addresses why each speech is successful.

Date: Fri. April 24
Time: 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Location: Zoom
Advisor: Yribarren
Faculty Reader: Tsukahara
Student Reader: Corfield

Finding Love: The Sonnet and the Importance of Form

Are you looking for love?

In this creative project, seven sonnets were composed in order to identify the various types of love. These forms were developed from my personal theory regarding the philosophy of love. This paper is a defence of the sonnet as the form of writing best suited for a dialectical understanding of love, whether that be personal or universal. I have chosen to employ the sonnet to interpret love, as it is the truest form in which to engage this conversation. Since its advent, the sonnet has lent itself to the development of personal thought. The sonnet’s defining characteristics; its subjectivity, its asymmetry, and its perimeters perfectly encourage philosophical meditation on love. If you would like to learn more about love or if you're interested in language and poetry, please come to this seminar!

Date: Tue. April 28
Time: 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Location: Zoom
Advisor: Cortright, Malary
Faculty Reader: Hamm
Student Reader: Kailahi

The Center Cannot Hold: The Shift From Geocentricity to Heliocentricity

Changing the center of the universe in the study of astronomy can have great consequences.  Ptolemy believed that the heavens revolved around the earth, whereas Copernicus believed the planets orbited around the sun. This paper looks at both Ptolemaic geocentricity and Copernican heliocentricity and some of the elements, such as the calculation of the angle of solar eccentricity and the arrangement of the planets, that motivated this monumental change in the view of the center of the universe.

Date: Wed. April 29
Time: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Location: Zoom
Advisor: Hamm / Zepeda
Faculty Reader: Yribarren
Student Reader: Wick
Do you often wonder why so many people, from artistic friends to English professors, rave about poetry? Then you've come to the right thesis. For my thesis surveys definitions of a concept to which both ancient and modern thinkers have attributed great poetry's astonishing effect: "sublimity". In addition, I delve into poems which exemplify these definitions—and for the grand finale, I offer a definition and accompanying poem of my own.
Date: Fri. May 1
Time: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Location: Zoom
Advisor: Martinez
Faculty Reader: Christo
Student Reader: MacMahon

Constitutional Intent

This essay examines The Constitution of the United States, a living document that provides the foundation of US laws and the protections of the rights of its citizens. Aquinas, Aristotle,  Hobbs and others make appearances to provide the reasoning behind the establishment of the constitution and significant SCOTUS case decisions are examined to account for how the constitution transitioned from regulating the federal government to protecting citizens from abuse of power from all governmental authority both state and federal. 
Nota bene: This essay is the authors opinion and as such as protected under the First Amendment.
Date: Mon. May 4
Time: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Location: Zoom
Advisor: Cortright
Faculty Reader:  Bird
Student Reader: Madi Pomeroy

This essay utilizes the following texts: Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Euclid’s Elements, Einstein’s Relativity: the Special and General Theory, Berthollet’s Research into the Laws of Chemical Affinity, and finally the crowning jewel of the Saint Mary’s Chemistry Department, McQuarrie’s General Chemistry.

What possible subject could this thesis be investigating you may ask? Well, justice of course! Over the years, many students of this program have experienced the struggle of determining the definition of justice. This thesis proposes that there is only one possible definition of this term which unites all of the realms that justice embraces.

If you are interested in discovering what this definition could be, I urge you to attend this seminar.

Date: Wed. May 6
Time: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Location: Zoom
Advisor: Cortright
Faculty Reader:
Student Reader: MacMahon

The Good Government: The Function of Form in Plato’s ​Republic​ and The Federalist Papers

What is a government? Further, what is a good government? Plato addresses these questions in his Republic using abstract concepts of Good, True, and Justice in order to develop a government with a united goal of achieving a perfect Good city. Historically, though, Republics inspired by Plato have quickly degenerated out of functionality because of an inability to change. In the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison attempt to defend a new Republic, a Republic which addresses Plato's insufficiencies with scientific, non abstract truths which change with societal changes. This Thesis explores the movement from abstract aspirations to experiential functionality in government.

Date: Fri. May 8
Time: 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Location: Zoom
Advisor: Bird
Faculty Reader:  Br. Martin
Student Reader:  Kacura

A Treatise on The Use of Nature and Motion in Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace

War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing? Have you ever wondered about war, nature, or motion? Within this thesis, I investigate Leo Tolstoy's thoughts on nature and motion in War and Peace. With an emphasis on his use of natural examples and how this connects to the idea of balancing motion(s), I set forth definitions for both nature and motion, as well as give an explanation for Tolstoy's introduction of the soul.

Date: Mon. May 11
Time: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Location: Zoom
Advisor: Doval
Faculty Reader:  Martinez
Student Reader: Tchoumie

Art and Philosophy: Complementary Paths to Truth

This is an inquiry into the paths set by philosophy and art towards Truth. While art and philosophy seem opposed to each, this inquiry attempts to understand the two as complementary. This is because while art seems to have greater reach in the world, philosophy nonetheless seems to influence these artistic modes. Yet on the flip side, philosophy can point to ideas found in art that help articulate its own points, by analogy. The first task of this inquiry must be to look into the effects these two have on each other. In order to do this, we must discuss what is truth, art, and inspiration. Once their relationship has been established and looked at, we can then determine if they are in fact complementary.

All these discussions are aided by textual references from Plato, Aquinas, St. John of the Cross, and others.

Date: Wed May 17
Time: 9:00–10:30 AM
Location: Zoom
Advisor: Cortright
Faculty Reader:  Tsukahara
Student Reader: Madi Pomeroy
Looking at cooperative raven behaviors and strategies from the standpoint of both game theory and evolutionary biology.
Date: Fri. May 15
Time: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
Location: Zoom
Advisor: Hamm
Faculty Reader:
Student Reader:  Corfield

Cultivating Your Garden: An Exploration into Boredom and Distress in Voltaire’s Candide

“But when they were not arguing, their boredom became so oppressive that one day the old woman was driven to say, 'I'd like to know which is worse: to be raped a hundred times by pirates, to have one buttock cut off, to run the gauntlet in the Bulgar army, to be whipped and hanged in an auto-da-fé, to be dissected, to be a galley slave—in short, to suffer all the miseries we've all gone through—or to stay here doing nothing.'"

To find out which is worse - suffering life's worst vicissitudes or living a life where nothing happens - read this thesis. There may be a silver lining involving leisure and cultivating your garden.

Date: Mon. May 18
Time: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Location: Zoom
Advisor: Martinez
Faculty Reader: Cortright
Student Reader: