Anthropology Senior Capstone Guidelines

What is a senior capstone and why is it important?

The Anthropology senior capstone is a two-semester research and writing project completed at the end of the your course of study under the guidance and mentorship of CSUCI faculty members. Involving active learning and the integration of materials within the major, the project centers on a topic chosen by you in consultation with Anthropology faculty members. It is an opportunity to engage with an issue of anthropological concern to produce a body of work that is reflective of core concepts and principles you have learned in classes as applied to an area that interests you. It represents the culmination of your undergraduate studies, the application of your knowledge to a specific anthropological topic, and the opportunity to gain firsthand experience as a practicing anthropologist.

A successful capstone project should demonstrate the following:

  1. Engaging in independent and original research
  2. Application of anthropological theory to frame research questions
  3. Application of quantitative and/or qualitative methods
  4. Critical thinking and reading
  5. Writing and presenting scholarship
  6. Ethical conduct and professionalism

Additional benefits of the capstone include authoring a paper that may be submitted to graduate schools or potential employers as a substantive sample of your writing; developing a manuscript for publication; or as a springboard for future research projects.

Who do I work with?

Effective fall 2015, you are required to enroll in two capstone-related courses: Professionalism in Anthropology (ANTH 489) in the fall semester and Capstone Project (ANTH 499) in spring semester. You will work with the instructor(s) of those courses. In addition, you are encouraged to consult with other faculty members in Anthropology and other programs when relevant. You should plan on working with at least two faculty members, as your capstone will benefit from their different perspectives and experiences.

How do I choose a topic?

Many students choose to draw on research they have conducted during previous coursework (e.g. UNIV 498) or internships (e.g. ANTH 492), while studying abroad (e.g. UNIV 392), or as part of independent studies (e.g. ANTH 494). Examples of capstone projects include ethnographies, museum exhibits, films, archaeological reports, or a developed body of materials that can be used in elementary or secondary schools. It is important that you select a research project that is:

  1. Well-defined in its scope, being neither too general nor too specific
  2. Feasible with respect to time and resources
  3. Significant, having relevance and merit to others

Resources that can help you choose a topic include: reviewing academic journals to identify trends in research and scholarship; talking to former students and reading their capstone papers; and consulting with Anthropology faculty members.

What do I need to produce and what is the timeline?

Regardless of your particular interests, you are encouraged to conduct original research and use that as the basis of your capstone. In addition, whether a film, museum exhibit, or otherwise, each project needs an accompanying written paper that discusses how the project was researched and carried out and discusses the importance of the project in terms of anthropological theory.

By the end of the fall semester you are required to complete the following:

  1. Research design, which should include a discussion of your research question, working hypothesis and expectations, methods and theory, and significance.
  2. Paper outline, which should detail the major points of each chapter of your final paper.
  3. Literature review, which should include a summary of relevant academic sources of information relating to the particular topic, theoretical framework, and methods. The literature review is one chapter of your final paper.
  4. If you are conducting research involving human subjects (which will be the case for most sociocultural projects), you are legally required to obtain approval for your research from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at CSUCI. You must complete and submit an IRB application form. To do so, consult the information on the IRB webpage. You are also encouraged to read previously approved applications for Anthropology capstones.

By the end of the spring semester you are required to:

  1. Complete all data collection and analysis.
  2. Write a 40 to 60-page thesis (the length of the paper varies depending on the topic, but the absolute minimum is 40 pages). It is required that you submit the final paper in two formats: a) a bound hard copy and b) as a PDF file.
  3. Present the results in the form of a poster or oral presentation. In particular, you are required to present your work at the SAGE Student Research Conference held in May. You may also be encouraged to present at other professional conferences; in the past this has included the annual meetings of the Society for California Archaeology and the Society for American Archaeology.

List of Anthropology Senior Capstones

(in reverse chronological order) 

CSUCI Anthropology Capstone Papers (In reverse chronological order)



Patricia Armstrong
A Cross Cultural Analysis of Mummification Methods in Egypt, Chile, and the Torres Strait           

Rachael Bowman
A Historic Analysis of Artifacts Found on Santa Rosa Island

James Tanner Brewer
Historic Archaeology of the Oxnard Plains and the Unheard Voices of America’s Agricultural Landscape: An Analysis of Rural Life during the Interwar Period

Frankay Andrea Campbell
Uncovering Emerging Trends in Entertainment Through Anthropological Methods

Jarrod Daniel Chudacoff
Chumash Rock Art and Datura 

Tiffany A. Darden
Scare Tactics: Do Captive Gibbons Respond Appropriately to Potentially Dangerous Stimuli?

Rachael Duncan
An Anthropological Look at Ritual Shell Use among the Ancient Maya

Daisy Gomez
Citizen’s Perception of Law Enforcement

Vikram Johnson
Community Building through Music

Frances Klingenberger
Gender Roles in the Workplace: Women’s Changing Views

Scott Lang
Alternative Education and the Benefits of Experiential Learning

Brandon Lim
A Look at Multiculturalism on Santa Cruz Island During the Historic Period

Tatiana Mijailovic
Generational Variance in Slava Practices: A Cross Generational Analysis of the Practices of the Serbian Saints’ Day Slava

Tammany Braxton Olmos
Ceramic Apprenticeship in the Technological Age: Understanding the Link between Traditional Craft Knowledge and Cultural Identity

Rachel Smithers
Hanging Coffins: Is This a Taboo? Cemetery Distributions along Trade Routes

Amanda Wurtz   
Saving the World One Festival at a Time: Harnessing Individualism and Solidarity within the Electronic Dance Music/Music Arts and Festival Countercultures


Molly Alderete
The Great Chin of Being: The Emergence of the Human Chin

Stephanie Bauer
Finding an Economical Way to Teach Cranial Gunshot Wound Replications: An Alternative Material for Human Bone

Jazmine Cureno
Enriching The History of Santa Rosa Island Through Graffiti

Toni D'Ambrosia
The Symbolism of Burning Man: An Examination of Pilgrimage and Religious Expression

Brittany Glass
Environmental Concern and Student Product Purchases

Anahis Hagopian
Factors that Influence Emergency Room Experiences Including Race and Socioeconomic Status

Austin Palmer
Applying Anthropological Methods and Values to Evangelical Missions

Sara Perkins
Kenyan Luo Identities in Material Culture

Lindsay Raft
The Mystery Behind the Whitehall Phase

Victoria Scotti
The Historical and Environmental Value of Shipwrecks on the California Channel Islands

Emily Smith
Dichelostemma capitatum's Significance in the Chumash Diet Based on Corm Variability with Respect to Nutritional Content, Morphology, and Collection Times

Tanner Weber
Guardian of the Mainland: The History and Archaeology of Military Presence on Santa Rosa Island

Brandi Ward
Experiential Learning and Cooperative Learning in K-12 Schools: The “Crossing the Channel” Program in Ventura County

Christa Wilson-Bradford
Re-Piecing Chumash Archaeological Sites after Decades of Disturbance


Rhakia Alcarez
Cultural Influences on Environmental Attitudes and National Park Visitation

Alexandra Alva-Black
Physical Activity at CSUCI

Marcela Barron
Examining Sociopolitical Boundaries and Identities using a Cross-Cultural Approach to Head Binding in the Andean Region from the Middle Horizon to the Late Intermediate Period

Stephanie Benedetti
The Cultural Identification of Women within the Subculture of Tattooing: An Anthropology Study of Tattoo Shops in Ventura County

Ashley Bullard
Paranormal Beliefs: A Study of Ghosts from an Anthropological Perspective

Catherine Coleman
Communitas and Spiritual Consciousness in the Electronic Dance Music Counterculture

Kimberly Esgate
Comparing the Mental Health and Well-Being of Atheists and Theists within the United States

Charles Fazzone
The Weight of the Land: A Pilot Study in Chumash Groundstone Bowls and Scales of Trade Analysis

Jelitsa Fonseca
Social Media’s Influence on Student Engagement in Residence Halls at CSU Channel Islands

Kevin Henry 
Anthropology in the World of Urban Clothing

Lisa Kaye
Conserving Ethnobotanical Medicine and Ethnic Identity with Community Gardens in Latina/o Communities in Ventura County

Brittany Lucero
The Role of the Horse During the Ranching Era of the Channel Islands

Michael McGurk
Island Ranchers: A Historic Archaeological Examination of Identity Formation through the Importation of Goods, Interethnic Interactions, and Human Ecology on Santa Rosa Island

Michael Rapp
Tackling Activism from the Belly of the Beast: Exploring the Evolution of Activism

Daniella Riad
Relationship Between the Quality of Marriage and Religious Values among Coptic Egyptians in Los Angeles

Richard Schott
WoW, what am I thinking? A Thematic Exploration of Player Beliefs and Goals in the World of Warcraft

Brian Whalen-Crichton
Cultural Resource Management and Its Impact on the Santa Rosa Island Research Station and Channel Islands National Park


Melinda Berge
Meeting State Educational Standards through Experiential Learning: Mock Archaeological Excavation at Camarillo Heights Elementary School

Rolando Garcia
Perceptions of Regional Dialects

Brittany Holmes
The Who’s Who of Campus Participation: An Anthropological Examination of Student Driven Clubs and Organizations

Emily Largey
Anthropology in the Work Place: The Corporate World of California Pizza Kitchen

Kaylin Levi
Tea and Coffee Culture in America


Monica Dollison
Searching for Satwiwa: Stitching Together the Archaeology, History, and Ethnography of the Oxnard Plain

Gerardo Rodriguez
Storytelling and its Influence on Cooperative Behavior

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