Senior Work in Environmental Studies

1. All Environmental Studies Majors are required to complete the Senior Seminar (ENVS 401), and to attend the weekly ES Colloquium in the same term. Note that all four ENVS core courses (ENVS 112, ENVS 211, ENVS 215, and GEOG 320) must be completed before a student may enroll in ENVS 401.

2. Senior Thesis and Honors
In addition to ENVS 0401 and all other major requirements, ENVS majors may choose, with faculty approval, to pursue a senior thesis. A completed and successful senior thesis is required for a graduating senior to be eligible for program honors in the ENVS major.

Program Honors. Any ENVS major wishing to graduate with honors in the major must complete either an ENVS thesis or an environmentally related thesis in another department that is part of the student's focus (e.g., a geology thesis is required for an environmental geology focus) or part of a joint or double major. ENVS majors with a GPA of 3.33 or above in courses counting toward the major, who complete a thesis (either one or two terms of ENVS 500 + one term of ENVS 700 or a 500 + 700 within their focus department) with a grade of "B+" or above, will graduate with High Honors in the ENVS major. Courses counting toward the GPA in the major include core courses, cognate courses, focus courses, and ENVS 401. Extra cognate or foci courses will count in calculating the final GPA for honors, but thesis grades will not count in calculating the final GPA for honors.

3. Thesis Requirements
A. Two or three terms of independent work (one or two 500-level courses PLUS one 700-level course).
B. The completed written thesis turned in to both the thesis advisor and the second reader by 5 pm on the Friday of the 11th week of classes in the term that the thesis is due (or the Friday of the 3rd week of classes in Winter Term).
C. An oral thesis defense with the thesis advisor, the second reader, and the student. The oral defense will take place during the first week of the final exam period (or during the final week of Winter Term). Thesis defenses will not be scheduled later than the first week after classes end.
D. Thesis Presentation: All students completing an ENVS thesis or seeking ENVS honors by doing an environmentally-related joint thesis through their focus department are required to make a presentation of their work in either the public presentation of ENVS theses as scheduled by the Director, or in a similar public presentation scheduled by their focus department.

4. Thesis Procedures
A. ENVS majors interested in writing a thesis are encouraged to choose and consult with an advisor in the semester before they begin their thesis (i.e. during their junior year or at the very start of their senior year). The thesis advisor must be appointed to or affiliated with the ES program. In discussions with their advisor, students will define their thesis as either a depth thesis or an integrative thesis.

i. Depth thesis. In this type of thesis, the student examines a question in his or her focus in depth. The coursework the student has taken within the focus will prepare him or her for the advanced work required in researching and writing the thesis.

ii. Integrative thesis. Since ENVS is an interdisciplinary major, some students may wish to undertake a thesis that examines a question or problem from a variety of perspectives, seeking an integrative approach. With such a thesis, the student will be expected to use his or her focus specialty as one of the major perspectives in the thesis. The student must also demonstrate a background in the perspectives outside the focus (usually done through coursework in the area in question).

B. Procedures for the first semester or preliminary semesters: Register for ENVS 500 or a Department-based 500. During this first semester, PRIOR to REGISTRATION for the final thesis semester's 700-level course, students must get permission and approval to continue the project as a 700-level thesis from a) their advisor, b) a second reader, and c) the Program Director. Students must notify the Director by email or in writing of their intended thesis topic, the names of their advisor and second reader, and their intended plan for public presentation of their final thesis (whether through ENVS program presentation or through their department).

C. Procedures for the second or final semester: Register for ENVS 700 or a department-based 700. Complete thesis, defense, and final presentation as detailed here or as detailed by the focus department in question, and according to a schedule for drafts and rewrites established in consultation with the advisor.

5. Thesis Format Guidelines
A. Due to the variety of disciplines involved in environmental studies, there is no standard form of citation or bibliographic format. It is the responsibility of the student to consult with his or her advisor to determine the appropriate format.

B. The thesis should be printed, and double-spaced, with adequate margins. The thesis may be printed double-sided. The title page should be prepared according to the example available in the ENVS Program office. If an honors grade is achieved on the thesis, the student needs to give the ENVS Program two copies of it - one for the  Program's collection and one for the college library. If awarded honors, the Program will pay the cost of photocopying one copy for the student to keep. If the thesis does not receive an honors grade, the program needs only one copy for its collection.

C. The ENVS Program also strongly recommends that students consult ENVS theses from prior years for guidance on thesis format, structure, and argument. Copies of such theses are available in the Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest.

6. Independent Study (not for honors)
Independent study may be pursued in two different ways, either through the ENVS Program or through the department allied with the student's focus. Note that several foci require independent work as part of the focus.
Students who wish to pursue independent study in the field of environmental studies may enroll in ENVS 0500. The intent of offering ENVS 0500 is to make available to all ENVS majors an opportunity to engage in independent work regardless of whether or not the student is working toward honors in the major. Permission to enroll in ENVS 0500 requires that a student have a faculty member who is affiliated with the ENVS Program agree to serve as the advisor of his or her ENVS 0500 project. Requirements for the grade in ENVS 0500 are determined by agreement between the student and the advisor before the project is begun. The ENVS 0500 project may be research oriented or readings oriented. In special instances, an independent project may be of such a magnitude that it cannot be completed in one semester. In such cases, students, with their advisors' permission, have the option to conduct the work over two semesters. Students may conduct two different independent projects during their undergraduate careers.

ENVS majors may also pursue independent study through the department that is affiliated with their focus. Some foci (e.g., Creative Arts, Environmental Geology, Environmental Nonfiction) actually require this. Students pursuing this option are governed by all of the rules established by those departments. These students are encouraged to consult with their academic advisors early so that they understand these requirements.




Program in Environmental Studies

Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest
531 College Street
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753