Capstone Information

MESA minors who do not pursue the minor with language emphasis will complete a capstone paper as their last course. This will likely happen during junior or senior years. Through this project, you will deepen your understanding of an already strong interest, and work with specialists within our MESA faculty, who will guide your inquiry through meetings and discussion. The final product should be a well-wrought argument that takes into consideration all recent and relevant scholarship, and uses primary and secondary materials.


  • Reach out to the MESA director to alert her/him of your capstone plans about one month before you intend to carry out the capstone. During this time you will also need to:
    • Identify a well-considered, viable topic
    • Reach out to a MESA faculty to be your advisor (please see list of faculty below)
  • Register for your 3-credit Capstone
  • In consultation with your advisor, you will need to:
    • Create a calendar of due dates for this semester-long writing project
    • Articulate the main research questions/argument you are interested in pursuing
    • Build a bibliography of relevant resources (primary and secondary)
  • Meet with the MESA director once during the writing of the capstone to discuss progress
  • Send final capstone papers to both advisor and MESA director
  • At the end of the academic year, there will be a presentation of MESA capstones (from both Fall and Winter terms). During this 10-15 minute presentations, you should share your research questions, argument, and findings


  • Roughly 10,000 words (about 20 pages double-spaced)
  • Clearly stated thesis statement or argument noted at the beginning & supported throughout the paper
  • Section on contribution/state of the field
  • Follow conventions of discipline in which you are working


We have a number of faculty who may be able to work with you on your project.

  • Jumana Al-Ahmad: Islam and human rights, reform in Islamic tradition, Arab and Islamic feminisms, and Arab Middle Eastern Culture in literature and films.
  • Aliaa Bassiouny: Research interests related to business and finance in the Middle East. Specific focus on the effect of political and economic crises on the Egyptian stock market and parallel markets for foreign exchange. I also work on issues related to small business finance and challenges facing women entrepreneurs in the Middle East. Special language expertise: Business and finance terms in Arabic, colloquial Egyptian Arabic expressions.
  • Hugo Blunch: Public health, education, labor markets issues, caste/religion (especially pertaining to inequalities/discrimination) in India.
  • Seth Cantey: International security, state competition and rivalry (especially Iran and Saudi Arabia), terrorism, insurgency, wars in Iraq and Syria.
  • Antoine Edwards: Arabic Linguistics, Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language (TAFL); Pre-modern Middle East History, specifically the Levant Nahḍa (Renaissance).
  • Stu Gray: Political philosophy, Indian political thought, comparative political philosophy, Gandhi. I focus on Hindu traditions of political thought, particularly pre-modern material such as the Vedas and Mahābhārata, including how early Brahmanical-Hindu texts and ideas are used to support or develop contemporary Hindu nationalist projects.
  • Tim Lubin: History of religion and law in South and Southeast Asia, especially Hindu and Buddhist views of person and society, caste hierarchy, and the relations between priestly and monastic groups and the state in India, Nepal, and Indonesia.
  • Shikha Silwal: Her research interests are in the areas of development, conflict and peace studies, and law and economics with a particular focus on South Asia region. Her recent publication includes a book titled, "The Economics of Conflict and Peace: History and Application," published as part of Elements series by the Cambridge University Press. Her past research has focused on courts in Nepal and the spillover effects of the Nepalese civil conflict.