Senior Master Thesis and Class

Designed to challenge and inspire our most advanced students , the Areté Senior Master Thesis and Class serve as the culmination of Arete’s four-year philosophy and Symposium curriculum.

Seniors explore classic and modern questions in all branches of philosophy, searching for the curious, troubling, inspiring one that makes their hearts beat fast. Areté faculty provide primary source documents from ancient and present-day philosophers, challenging the seniors to mobilize their critical-reading and argument-analysis skills honed over four years of philosophical work.

This year-long capstone project gives seniors the opportunity to:

  • exercise their ability to do philosophy per se
  • gain experience with authentic, research-based academic writing
  • serve as mentors and teachers for younger students
  • forge and strengthen a scholarly relationship with Areté faculty
  • articulate and celebrate their unique academic identity
  • share their writing as an academic resource for younger students

While surveying others’ ideas through research, students engage in conversations with Areté faculty, peers, and younger students about their questions. The process of explaining, probing, defending and refining ideas is as much a part of the Master Thesis as the traditional writing and editing process.

As they develop their own projects, seniors serve as mentors to the younger students.  They prepare interactive lessons to present their ideas to the younger students, and then guide them through the process of research, writing, and editing philosophy papers.

At the end of Fall semester, Areté present their work in progress to the entire school community. Younger students get a tantalizing glimpse of the seniors’ big ideas during this event, and the excitement begins to build. Conversations about time, about justice, about the meaning of life start to happen in the hallways. Inspired by a senior topic of their choosing, underclassmen begin to brainstorm their own philosophical ideas. Seniors become resident experts and Socratic teachers.

In the spring, seniors teach interactive master classes to an audience of parents, teachers and peers. Seniors consistently find this part of the year the most rewarding experience of their academic career.