SEATTLE, Washington — After a long school year, summer is finally in full swing. Three months of sleeping in late, catching up with friends and family, and enjoying some much needed sunshine. Yet, for incoming high school seniors, summer can also be the time to begin thinking of topic ideas for senior projects before their hectic lives resume in the fall.
For many high schools across the country, the senior project is a graduation requirement that allows students to explore a topic of personal interest in-depth. It is an opportunity for students to put into action the analytical, writing and research skills gained throughout their high school careers, while also finishing this chapter of their lives by enhancing their personal growth or strengthening the community at large.
Many students grapple with an adequate topic for their final senior project, searching for something that fulfills class requirements but also makes a difference. For students beginning to ponder the perfect senior project topic, have no fear, because here are some perfect ideas. Read below for eight senior project topics that will allow upcoming seniors to give back to the world:
1. Food Aid Reform– An interesting topic idea is to examine how much food aid the United States sends abroad, and focus on current initiatives to increase how much is sent to countries in need. Since 1954, U.S. funded food has helped feed more than three billion people in over 150 countries. However, as the system has evolved over the years, so have the needs of those abroad. Today, 40 percent of funds intended to feed the hungry are spent on the cost of delivering food aid, an overall ineffective way to use tax dollars. For a senior project topic, students can focus on the changes made to food aid over the years, and particularly the ineffectiveness of the current system. For example, instead of wasting money on shipping, a more cost-effective solution would be to provide funds to development agencies in the countries needing food, where local goods can be sent to the hungry. This is a great topic for students interested in the political process, who want to educate their peers and fight to improve how USAID deals with food aid.
2. Inventions to fight global poverty– For students more inclined towards the science and technology fields, this is a thought-provoking topic that will allow students to delve into inventions that are helping to change the world. Technology is a necessity for providing life-saving materials to those throughout the developing world, with inventions designed to improve farming, healthcare, access to food and quality of life for those in poverty. For example, Plumpy’Nut, a 500 calorie paste made of peanut butter, powdered milk, powdered sugar and enriched with vitamins and minerals, was created to help fight child malnutrition. Take a look at the Lifestraw, an ingenious solution for increasing access to clean water by working as a personal water filtration device that enables people to drink clean water directly from a contaminated water source. Students interested in this topic can even try to come up with their own inventions and solutions to lifting people out of poverty, or simply focus on the various devices that are revolutionizing how people live in the developing world.
3. National Security– Terrorism, the military and diplomacy: pretty cool senior project topic, right? For those interested in learning more about the rise of terrorism, from Boko Haram to Al-Qaeda, and want to know how to stop it, focus this topic on development initiatives that will both improve national security and decrease global poverty. Poverty is a breeding ground for terrorist activity, with people desperate to improve their living conditions joining these organizations. Instead of relying solely on force, increasing aid and development abroad is essential for improving national security challenges. Enhancing conditions for the poor is a focal strategy of the Pentagon’s ‘3Ds’: Defense, Development and Diplomacy. For a project, students can focus on how the military deals with terrorist activity, and the role that increased aid could play in protecting U.S. citizens from global threats. This is the perfect topic for students interested in joining the military or simply interested in learning more about security and international affairs.
4. International Affairs Budget– Similar to the previous topic, students interested in improving national security, jobs at home and global poverty should take time to study up on the international affairs budget for their topic. The international affairs budget is critical for supporting development and diplomacy programs around the world. In addition to helping fight terrorism and prevent conflicts, it is also essential for creating American jobs by opening up foreign markets to U.S. businesses. Overall, this budget is a driving force for implementing agricultural programs, promoting stability and democracy, preventing hunger and saving millions of lives. For this topic, students can either explore the budget as a whole, or delve into specific aspects of it that they find most interesting. Students can also take action by encouraging their congressional leaders to support and increase funding for a budget that is fundamental in the fight against poverty.
5. Methods for ending poverty– Students have a lot of leeway with this topic, as there are so many methods and solutions for tackling global poverty. For instance, building a school, providing vaccinations or teaching farmers how to grow more food are all easy and innovative ways to radically improve poor communities. For this topic, students can come up with a list of solutions and use their project as a way to encourage their community to donate and learn more about the fight against poverty and hunger.
6. U.N. Millennium Development Goals– This is a big year, not only because it is finally senior year, but also because the Millennium Goals were created with the intention of being met by 2015. For this topic, students can examine both the success and failure of the MDGs, and create a plan for what still needs to be done to fulfill them by the end date. These goals cover a myriad of development initiatives, such as achieving universal primary education, improving maternal health and reducing child mortality. This is an extremely interesting topic that will allow students to see what progress has been made, and must still be made, to fully complete these goals.
7. Advocacy– Advocacy is an essential component for creating positive change, and politically-savvy students can use their project as an opportunity to learn how to successfully advocate for crucial poverty-reducing legislation. Students can meet with Congressional leaders, brush up on what bills are currently being discussed on the floor and use their voice to make a difference within the political process. In addition to doing critical work in the fight against poverty, students will see firsthand just how easy it is to be involved with the government and will learn about the inner workings of the United States.
8. Global Poverty 101– Most of the senior project topics discussed so far are focused on specific topics. However, for students with little knowledge of global poverty or foreign affairs, the senior project can be a great opportunity to learn more about these issues as a whole. 2.5 billion people around the world lack access to improved sanitation, 101 million children do not attend primary school and 4 million newborns die in their first month of life. The numbers are astounding, yet this is the stark reality for billions of people around the world. If the U.S. spent $30 billion per year to fight global poverty, world hunger would be alleviated. Yet, the country instead spends $130 billion on war spending and $530 billion on the military budget. Use this year as an opportunity to learn about these issues, and join in the fight to make the world a better place.
Any of these senior project topics are essential for fighting global poverty, and any of these topics will help to better a child’s life and improve conditions throughout the world. Use the senior project to make a difference and become better educated about global issues. Oh, and one more thing: Congrats on making it to senior year, it truly is a memorable time.
– Nicole Einbinder
Photo: Addie Zierman