College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Sociology & Criminology

Senior Research Seminar

All seniors are required to participate in a capstone experience in the form of a senior research seminar in which they undertake and complete an independent empirical research project that demonstrates their mastery of sociology or criminology. In this two-course sequence, students work independently on a research topic of interest to them under the guidance of a faculty member. Students will take a two-credit-hour course (SO486) in the fall of their senior year and a one-credit-hour course (SO487) in the spring of their senior year. Students present their findings at either the Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) which is held on Butler's campus every spring or at a regional or national sociology or criminology professional conference.

Unlike other courses in the major which attempt to introduce students to a specific topic, subject or skill (e.g., Crime and Delinquency, Urban Sociology, Social Theory, or Research Methods), this course is instead organized around students making use of the skills and knowledge they have acquired in their other courses to complete an independent research project. In this respect, the focus of this course is on each individual student applying what they have learned to demonstrate mastery of the sociological perspective in the working out and completion of a research project that each student has formulated and developed.  

The goals of this experience are for students:

  • To demonstrate their mastery of the sociological perspective-theories, issues, concepts, research methods - through the formulation and completion of an original research project.
  • To further develop a reflective, critical perspective on contemporary society through conducting independent sociological research on a significant and relevant social issue or concern.
  • To further develop and refine the necessary analytical and research skills for success in advanced graduate study and to meet career demands after graduation.

Students involved in the honors program or interested in completing a departmental honors thesis may do so in place of the senior research seminar requirement. The completion of an honors thesis requires the submission of a proposal to the LAS honors board, completion of an honors thesis, and presentation of the results at the Undergraduate Research Conference or a regional or national sociology (or criminology) professional meeting. Please see the website of the Butler Honors Program for more information about this option.

Examples of Recent Student Senior Research Projects

  • The Implementation of Restorative Justice in South Africa: Conflicts of Parks and People, A Case Study
  • Moral Panics, College Students, and the Internalization of Methamphetamine Stereotypes
  • The Undefined Middle: Exploring the Role of the Representative in the Modern Teachers Union Structure
  • The Conceptualization of Human Trafficking in the Media: A Content Analysis of United States Newspapers
  • The Effect of Place of Residence and Social Integration on Suicidal Ideation of College Students
  • Members of Fraternities who Abstain from Drinking and Their Perceptions of Their Fraternity Brothers
  • An Exploration of Gender and Violent Offenders: A Look at College Students' View of Male and Female Serial Killers
  • Cultural Definitions of Health Care: A Case Study of Burmese Refugees in Indianapolis
  • Being an International Student: The Experience from Their Own Perspective
  • Urban and Rural Public Opinion as Correlates of Indiana State Criminal Lawmaking: Whose Views Matter? 
  • A Qualitative Study of the Role of Churches in One Indianapolis Neighborhood: How do Churches View Urban Renewal?
  • Bursting the "Butler Bubble:" Students Perceptions of Campus Safety Issues.  
  • Learning about Reverse Culture Shock Among Butler Study Abroad Students
  • Incarceration, Stigma and Prisoner Reentry into Society
  • College Students' Perceptions of Pornography Users: Are Views Affected by the Sex of the User? 

More student project titles (and abstracts) can be found in the program archive for the Undergraduate Research Conference.