my capstone experience

Sarah Howard '07

Sarah Howard, a History, Society and Culture major with education certification from Hamilton, Mass., discusses her Capstone project on the role of U.S. imperialism on Cold War containment theory. The Capstone project, which involves extensive research and presentation, is the culmination of each student's academic experience and a requirement of the Liberal Education Program at Colby-Sawyer College.

Describe the subject of your Capstone project and why you chose to focus on this subject.

The subject of my paper was the role of U.S. imperialism on the molding and direction of Cold War containment theory, with special emphasis on the Marshall Plan. My paper grew out of my Pathway (McWorld vs. Jihad), which focused on globalization; my U.S. foreign policy course and finally, an upper-level colonialism course. The Cold War and imperialism have always interested me, and this Capstone seemed like the best way to unite these two passions.

What research did you conduct for this project?

The first semester of the year-long process was spent reading and thinking. I collected a large number of sources through interlibrary loans, Colby-Sawyer's own library and the Boston Public Library. Among them were a number of useful primary source documents. I also located an online archive that was particularly helpful in locating position papers and Congressional documents on the topic.

What did you learn through your Capstone project, and in what ways is it a culmination of your learning experiences at Colby-Sawyer?

I learned how to be a true historian, with both the pains and the rewards. The Capstone experience gave me a taste of what I hope to experience in the next few years as I pursue my master's degree. The Capstone served as a culmination of my experiences at Colby-Sawyer by drawing in all the skills and knowledge I had learned into one project. Whether it was time management, archival research, writing, or just being able to take a break when needed, the whole experience was supported and generated from my experiences at Colby-Sawyer College.

What was most fun and rewarding for you in the process of creating your Capstone?

The most rewarding part was developing something of which I am truly proud. This paper makes me feel more confident facing grad school. If I can accomplish this, I can handle Rutgers University! This paper was fun for me (though at moments it was trying), and it is that aspect that defines a true history major - we like research, writing papers and Capstones!

What did you find most challenging about the project?

The most challenging part was tackling such a huge topic and addressing all that I wanted to say. Within my first draft were at least 30 pages I ended up never using. People write entire books on U.S. imperialism; my goal was a 45-page paper.

Poetic Fabrications and Subtle Interactions:
The Role of US Imperialism on Cold War Containment Theory: The Marshall Plan

by Sarah Howard

What do you hope will be the lasting value of your Capstone project?

Capstone is created to push seniors past that last hurdle and prepare them for the future - I hope this experience has prepared me for my future in grad school, and beyond.