BA Focus Strand Essays
A focus strand essay is intended to be a serious and thoughtful examination of a particular question and its significance for one aspect of the liberal arts. Students write a major essay in each of the four classics strands during their first three years. Based on the class readings from the respective strand, each student chooses a topic for their focus strand essay, to be approved by the focus strand professor. Students are encouraged to consult with their focus strand professor while writing, and freshman students in particular are encouraged to work closely with their Rhetoric and Writing professor throughout all phases of their writing.
Essays are graded by the focus strand professor and become a substantial part of the student’s focus strand course grade. Students whose papers are deemed unsatisfactory may submit a revision before the end of the semester. A copy of the essay will be kept on file as part of the student’s academic record.
Senior Essay and Oral Examination
Seniors are required to present a final essay in the spring semester of their fourth year. This essay is a substantial and sustained intellectual endeavor that epitomizes the culmination of a student’s education at DRBU. The required length for senior essay is 20–25 pages.
The process of writing the senior essay begins in the fall of senior year, when a student submits a senior essay proposal to the instruction committee, describing the topic and the organization of the essay, as well as the primary text(s) to be used. Proposals are due at 5 p.m. on the first Monday of November. The instruction committee will evaluate the proposal and assign a senior essay committee to each student. Each committee consists of a main senior essay advisor and two additional faculty members. Students are encouraged to meet frequently with their main advisor to review their progress.
Seniors are given four weeks without classes at the beginning of the spring semester to focus on writing their senior essays. Senior essays are due by 5 p.m. on the last Friday of February. The deadline for submission is strictly enforced. Exceptions will be made only in extraordinary circumstances with the approval of the Dean of Academics.
The senior essay committee will evaluate the senior essay. If the committee considers the essay to be unacceptable, the student may submit a revision or a new essay to the same committee by 5 p.m. on the last Friday of March.
Students are also given an hour-long oral examination focusing on their senior essay. Both the senior essay and the oral examination must be successfully completed before graduation.
If a student is granted an “I” grade for the Senior Essay and/or Oral Examination, the deadline for removing it cannot be extended by the Rhetoric IV professor beyond the first day of the Fall semester, without exceptions. If a student does not complete the required essay and oral examination by the first day of the Fall semester, the student will receive a default grade of NP for the Rhetoric IV course and will be required to register for and repeat the course in that semester. Once the student completes the Rhetoric IV course by submitting the senior essay and oral examination, the NP grade in the previous Rhetoric IV course will be replaced by an RP (repeated course).
MA Focus Strand Essays
MA students submit a focus strand essay every semester. A focus strand essay is intended to be a serious and thoughtful examination of a particular question and its significance to the study of classic Buddhist texts. Based on class readings, each student chooses a topic, reflects upon its wider implications, and explores its deeper meaning in relationship to the text. Essay topic needs to be approved by the focus strand professor. The essay is not intended to be a work of specialized research, but rather a careful examination based on a close reading of the original text. Students are encouraged to consult with their professor often in the process of writing their essay.
The focus strand assignment for each semester is as follows:
First year, fall semester: Buddhist Classics
First year, spring semester: Comparative Hermeneutics
Second year, fall semester: Buddhist Hermeneutics
Second year, spring semester: Buddhist Classics
Focus strand essays are graded by the focus strand professor and become a substantial part of the student’s focus strand course grade.