Sample Social Science Projects

The following descriptions are provided to give you ideas for developing your own honors projects. Some of these descriptions are past Green Sheet projects, initiated and developed by students; others are honors optional (%) projects developed by professors (i.e., not Green Sheet projects). Both types of projects, however, can help you generate ideas as you design your own honors experience. 

Anthropology 100 — “Grief Anthropolgy”: A student interviewed three students of different cultures, religions and beliefs: an international student from Honduras, a Persian student who doesn’t acknowledge her Persian origins, and a student who practices the same religion as the Honors student interviewer but is more orthodox and practices at a higher intensity. She planned to compare and contrast her beliefs with those of the three other students on subjects such as politics, religion, morals and social beliefs.

Anthropology 300 — “Cultural Anthropology: Theory and Ethnography”: Two students carried out an ethnographic study of the UW campus “gamer subculture” (specifically players of the game Halo between the ages of 18-24). Their final project included a 5-6 page written analysis and a multimedia presentation at AnthroCircle, the Anthropology Department’s informal scholarly colloquium.  

Anthropology 310 — “Archaeology of Violence, Warfare, and Human Nature”: A student did a zooarcheological analysis of 1000-year-old Eskimo-period fauna remains from Kodiak Island, Alaska. These remains, excavated in the 1960’s, are part of the university’s collection but were not previously analyzed (i.e. identified and catalogued).

Chicano Studies 330 — “Art Empowerment-Latinx Artist”: A student volunteered with the Chicano community in Madison by contacting Centro Hispano for a list of programs she could work on and met with her professor regularly to discuss her observations.

Communication Arts 355 — “Introduction to Media Production”: This is a film and video production class, so the honors student chose to do production work on a video she made in Brazil. She planned to edit the video to give it a snap-shot visual style and add a voice-over narrative to it. The purpose of the project was to use the video medium to go beyond the stereotypes often attached to the country of Brazil and to expose her audience to different aspects of Brazilian culture and society. 

Economics 101 — “Principles of Microeconomics”: A student analyzed private colleges and universities in the state of Wisconsin. The goal of the project was to determine the real money expenditure, after subsidies, grants and financial aid, of students at private colleges and universities and to contrast these findings with the costs of public universities.            

Environmental Studies 112 — “Environmental Studies: The Social Perspective”: For honors credit in a class on the social perspective of environmental problems, a student chose to job shadow an environmental lawyer or lobbyist and then prepared a presentation about how the experience affected her thoughts about future careers.        

In another honors curriculum (for the same course), two students chose to research how children of different socioeconomic groups view environmental problems. The two students visited a private elementary school outside of Milwaukee and a public school on Madison’s South side, spending four hours at each school. They planned several games and activities that would be fun for the children, which allowed them to get a sense of children’s environmental ethics and which environmental problems seemed most important to children of different backgrounds. Their final presentation included an edited video of the project and a short reaction paper on what they had learned.

History 360 — “The Anglo-Saxons”: A student assembled a model of the Aix la Chapelle church built at the time of Charlemagne and explored the history of medieval church construction. The student presented the model to the class and gave a presentation on what she had learned.

Integrated Liberal Studies 206 (Z course): A student wrote a creative short story featuring many of the Western thinkers analyzed in the course. Several thinkers from ILS 205 also appeared. His storyline mimicked the reality TV show “Survivor”: the thinkers found themselves stranded on an island and forced to make decisions on how to survive and construct a mini-society.      

In another honors curriculum for this course, a group of three honors students joined forces to create and perform an interpretive dance featuring one of the philosophers examined in class. The dance focused on the tensions between this philosopher and the society in which he lived, as well as the tensions that could occur between his beliefs and aspects of modern society. These students used readings assigned in the class as well as outside materials and provided their own music.

ILS 209 — “Introduction to Global Cultures”: A student attended a university lecture / discussion for each major culture covered in class (China, Latin America, Islam, West Asia, Africa, South Africa, Vietnam and Tibet) and wrote a response paper for each, which he then discussed with the professor during meetings outside of class.

Philosophy 341 — “Contemporary Moral Issues”: A student entered the “No Dogs of Philosophers Allowed” (NDOPA) contest, for which he made a short video exploring the year’s contest theme, “The Ethics of Consumption”. His video addressed the roles of and relationships between the consumer, producer and government, and focusing on two problems in particular: producers controlling the market demand and consumers’ incompetence.