Research and Foreign Languages

One of the major differences between the A.B. and B.S.E. courses of study at Princeton is that A.B. students are required to take (or test out of) at least four semesters of a language class. Studying a foreign language is, therefore, an essential part of studying the humanities at Princeton. There are many good reasons for studying a foreign language (besides simply needing to fulfill the language requirement)— perhaps you want to live or study in a different country, you might envision some professional advantages from knowing a foreign language, or you simply see studying languages as a new way to connect with others. Many Princeton alumni have successfully put their language skills to use in these sorts of pursuits. I’d like to offer another reason in addition to these: studying a foreign language at Princeton can prepare you to do exceptional research. 

Picture shows a page from an Arabic-Latin dictionary

A page from an Arabic-Latin dictionary

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My Personal Tips for Success in Writing Seminar

Even before stepping foot on campus, I had already heard of the challenges that came with the Writing Seminar, the first-year writing requirement. Students are able to rank by preference several Writing Seminars covering different topics, which have included topics such as WRI 116: Sustainable Futures and WRI 159: Gray Matter. In each of these Writing Seminars, students develop their writing skills through a research focus, writing three research papers throughout the semester. As Writing Seminars are such a widely discussed topic for first-years and there is an abundance of advice from juniors and seniors floating around, I wanted to write a more detailed article specifically about what I did to learn how to write.

flowchart
Picture of the flowchart I created for my R2; tip #3, use whiteboards!
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Researching in Princeton’s Special Collections

If you want to take your research in the humanities to the next level while here at Princeton, one of the best ways you can do that is by availing yourself of Princeton’s Special Collections. Home to vast stockpiles of manuscripts, rare books, coins, and other materials, Special Collections is a great place for students who want to pursue rigorous and impressive humanities research while making use of the excellent resources that Princeton has to offer. Many of these articles were donated by benefactors or acquired by the university specifically so that they could be researched by professors, students, and other researchers. In this article, I’ll present some reasons why you might consider checking out Special Collections, and then follow that up with a basic “how to” for when you visit.

Image shows an Ethiopic book, opened to pages featuring pictures of saints and text in Ge'ez (Classical Ethiopic)

A manuscript of an Ethiopic Synaxarion in Special Collections

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How to use a Reference Room

Most people probably know Trustee Reading Room as that large room with big glass windows on the first floor of Firestone, where you go when you want a really quiet study space. Perhaps you’ve recently studied for midterms or worked on a paper in its sacred silence. Maybe you’ve wondered if there’s more to Trustee than simply providing a quiet atmosphere for study. The answer to that question is: yes, there is. It is the primary reference room of Firestone library– and if you read to the end of this article you will learn how to make the most of this tremendous resource.

Students work in Trustee Reading Room.

Trustee Reading Room in Firestone Library has many reference works

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Wright Library: An Under-utilized Resource for Students

When I first walked through the doors of Theodore Sedgwick Wright Library at Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) on a sweltering September day a few weeks ago, I was struck by three things: the great size of the library, the small number of students there, and its remarkably-strong air conditioning. As I set my things down and cooled off in a quiet study area, I began to work on an assignment for one of my classes. My gratitude for the engineers who designed the building’s cooling system was quickly superseded by my admiration for those who worked together to produce the largest theological library in America and the second largest in the world after the Vatican Library in Rome.

Image shows the facade of Theodore Sedgwick Wright Library in Princeton, New Jersey.

Theodore Sedgwick Wright Library is the main library at Princeton Theological Seminary.

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An Interview with Cara Khalifeh, PPP Treasurer

The Princeton Perspective Project (PPP) is an initiative by Princeton students against the expectation of “effortless perfection.” Our seasonal series in partnership with PPP interviewed professors, undergraduate students, and graduate students to hear their thoughts on expectations, challenges, failures, and growth through it all. In this segment of our Seasonal Series, we hear from Cara Khalifeh, the Treasurer of the Princeton Perspective Project. 

Cara Khalifeh sitting on a red bench in central park with the NYC skyline in the background.
Cara Khalifeh ’24
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Introducing the Sophomore Research Seminars: An Interview with Professor Emma Ljung

Image of Professor Emma Ljung teaching a seminar
Professor Emma Ljung teaching in a seminar.

With course selection coming around the corner, the sheer number of opportunities can be overwhelming. Choosing courses can be doubly challenging for rising sophomores who are finishing up their prerequisite courses and trying to figure out what they even want to major in. I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce a new and exciting opportunity for students interested in research—the Sophomore Research Seminars.

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A Letter to the Juniors on the Senior Thesis

Students sitting in rocky dining hall working on their senior thesis.
Students working hard at thesis bootcamp

Hello juniors! 

Spring is always a rollercoaster of a semester. We have just about 6 more weeks of school before spring classes are over! Before you know it, you will be a senior and will have to start thinking about the big T – thesis. I recommend you take a little bit of time to think about your thesis – maybe you’ve already started after reading Ryan’s great post around choosing a topic. You don’t have to have all of the answers right away, but at least you would already have given it a bit of thought and let your ideas brew at the back of your mind. 

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Senior Thesising 101: Choosing your Topic

Princeton building at night with light snow. Tree in center of frame and lights casting a glare
The first snow of the semester indicates that senior thesis season is upon us!!!!!

      Senior thesis. Senior thesis. Senior thesis. By this time of year, you have most likely heard seniors in the middle of the night at Firestone or at Coffee Club study breaks, thinking about, stressing about, and working on their senior thesis. In my last post, I wrote about one of the first and most important steps of the senior thesis process, choosing the right adviser (see here). Now, I walk through what I believe to be another pivotal moment for the senior thesis process: choosing a topic. For SPIA majors and presumably for many other majors as well, it may seem difficult to narrow down your project to one specific topic when the major is so broad and diverse. Throughout my time at Princeton, I have taken classes in law, environmental policy, psychology, economics, ethics and more, and I enjoyed them all. But, I eventually had to choose one topic to write a full thesis on. So, without further ado, here are some steps on choosing the right topic for you.

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PCUR Archives: Senior Thesis Planning

Two students sit at a table with their pen hovering over paper, working on their senior theses.
Students hard at work at a previous year’s Senior Thesis Bootcamp! (Photo Credit, Denise Applewhite)

As this is posted, many Princeton students are hard at work on their senior theses. Some are on campus right now participating in the residential colleges’ wintersession Senior Thesis Bootcamps. PCURs over the years have written extensively on this very important Princeton milestone. Browse through the posts below if you’ll be writing your thesis soon, are writing it right now, or maybe should be writing now.

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