Reference List Entry:

Upson-Saia, Kristi. 2013. "The Capstone Experience for the Religious Studies Major." Teaching Theology & Religion 16 (1): 3-17.

About this Journal Article:

This study examines capstone experiences for religious studies majors at 29 different U.S. institutions. Upson-Saia not only explores the strengths across these experiences, and the factors that set apart especially successful programs, but also takes an explicit focus on “the most frustrating aspects of the capstone” and “how some departments avoid such frustrations” (4). Unlike Lee and Loton (2017), who found strong consensus among the top purposes of capstones, Upson-Saia found little consensus among religious studies capstones beyond “culmination” in their educational objectives. This may be a difference in scale–on a smaller scale, more variation is visible–or in context. Perhaps authors have similar ideas about what should be talked about in published articles, but in practice, there may be more variation in purpose. Interestingly, Upson-Saia discusses one of the themes Lee and Loton raised about the pressures put on the capstone: suggesting that frustrations about the capstone as not going well, or doing as much as it could, stem from those pressures for capstone to be doing everything. She takes a historical lens in her response to this, exploring the evolution of capstones and their purposes through history to think through how capstones may be positioned today. Her resulting list of best practices for religious studies capstones may be adapted across disciplinary contexts and offer a useful starting point for people designing and developing capstones.