Research Proposal and Bibliography
ASSESSMENT WEIGHT: 20%
By this point in the semester, we hope you have started to think about the particular research questions and approaches that most interest you. For Tuesday, March 22, please submit a short, narrative research proposal and bibliography describing the research project you hope to pursue during the second half of the semester. This proposal should consist of two components:
- A two- or three-page written proposal, detailing the specific research question you plan to address and how you envision such a question might shed light on some of the larger issues about cities, schools, and space we have discussed during the first half of the semester.
- A two-page bibliography, including both primary and secondary sources, which will help us assess if your proposed project is doable given the logistical and time constraints of the semester. Note that this may include references to geographic and other data sets.
As you are framing your proposal, recall two questions which have been at the forefront of our class discussions. While we hope your research will speak to these questions in some way, remember that they are here to guide you but not to constrain you in any way.
- How did race, property, and educational opportunity become entangled in Cambridge during the twentieth century?
- Why and how did Cambridge — as a community — attempt to disentangle race and property from educational opportunity in the late twentieth century?
As you prepare your proposal, we recommend that you:
- Recall the different research models you have encountered over the semester, including but not limited to Highsmith, Erickson, Benjamin, O’Mara, Gordon, and Hillier. Should you be in search of a research idea, we suggest returning to these pieces for inspiration.
- Consider the primary sources you will have access to during the second half of the semester — in particular, the Cambridge Chronicle, the Koocher Papers, and MIT West.
- Reflect on whether your research project is doable — that is, can you reasonably complete what you propose given the time constraints of the semester? And also, whether it is worth doing — that is, will answering the question you propose help you to understand some issue relevant to cities, schools, and space in a profound or important way?
Remember that while GIS analysis does not have to be your primary research method, your final project should make use of GIS in some way.
We would also like you to complete at least one oral history for your project as well. We will discuss oral histories in more detail when we read Common Ground after Spring Break.
We are very excited to see what you have in mind!