The title of this post is simple, because no grammatical modifier in the English language can do justice to the Senior Individualized Project or SIP (pronounced like the verb, never the acronym). However, the SIP, unlike the title of this post, is anything but simple.
I once heard an alum talk about how the SIP was formerly known as the Senior Independent Project. Like in real life, names and slang change with the times. Study abroad was formerly referred to as “foreign study” and even “K College” is dying out with “K” being the preferred shorthand. Alumni rumor also has it that during the time when the College had four quarters (instead of trimesters), instead of taking classes and doing our SIP simultaneously, the SIP alone occupied one of the four quarters of the senior year.
If you’ve ever wondered why we assign the most illogical title to our 10 week-long trimesters, it’s because there actually were four quarters back in the day: fall, winter, spring, and summer. Yeah. Summer. From what I gathered, the summer was an awesome time to be on campus, but the College may have switched due to the lack of appeal that summer terms have in comparison to two-semester institutions.
This is quickly becoming a post about K’s history, so I digress…
The SIP is one component of our four-part K-Plan, the core of our Kalamazoo College experience. Its completion is required by all students in order to graduate. SIPs are generally done in the students’ department of major, but there are variations. SIPs are designed to be a capstone project combining the skills, knowledge, and independent curiosity that K imbibes in us over our four years here. Each department asks for something different and each department presents its own set of SIP challenges. SIPs are graded pass/fail.
Before I tell you what my SIP is about, allow me to tell you a little bit about my process. I had topics floating around on post-it notes before going on study abroad and came back knowing I wanted to do a SIP in the philosophy department about existentialism and emotion. Last spring, I did an independent study of philosophies on time and emotion to lay the early groundwork for my SIP research. Over the summer I gathered more books and quotes and refined thoughts. I wrote and planned out what I needed to accomplish once back in the fall. So for the past nine weeks, I have been putting my thoughts on paper with the help of my research. I am currently at 52 pages and hope to reach 70 before the end of the quarter, which does not take into account the number of drafts I have written or revisions I plan to do.
My SIP is a philosophical examination of human identity formation as unified and self-chosen. That’s putting it simply in terms of philosophy, so let me put it in layman’s terms: I am writing about how we maintain one identity throughout time by willingly choosing or taking responsibility for the terms of our own existence. I have drawn from the philosophers Kant, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and Heidegger to help me explain this and the fun part of my SIP is that I get to philosophize on my own. I have been guided with the help of Chris Latiolais, the head of the Philosophy Department and my advisor. He always gives me excellent feedback and really encourages me to grapple with these texts and ideas in relation to my own experiences.
I am happy to say that there is a light at the end of this tunnel, a process, which has concretely taken me about nine months, but that has been in the works since the day I arrived at Kalamazoo College.