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Senior Work in Environmental Studies

These are senior work requirements for students matriculated fall 2018 or later, and for students matriculated before fall 2018 who have selected to follow the current ES major requirements.

A.    Overview

ENVS does not universally require senior independent work; however, some foci within ENVS do.

ENVS majors who pursue senior independent study through a department that is part of their focus should follow the rules established by that department. Students wishing to pursue honors in ENVS however, must carry out a project that is pertinent to the relationship between humans and environment; that is supervised by at least one faculty advisor who is appointed in or affiliated with the environmental studies program; and that is presented publicly. In consultation with the thesis committee, students may present as part of the Spring Research Symposium or as a separate event arranged within the department or the ES Program. Students are encouraged to consult with their academic advisors early so that they understand these requirements. 

Majors who are not required to complete independent senior work in their focus may, in consultation with and approval of an advisor, apply to complete (optional) senior independent work in ENVS. Senior work in ENVS may be

  • a one-term senior project (ENVS 0700),
  • a multi-term senior thesis (ENVS 0700/0701)

Note that all senior independent work within ENVS begins as ENVS 0700. Senior independent work may be research-oriented, readings-oriented, or creative in nature.

B.    Rules & Requirements for all senior independent work in ENVS

1. Topic Requirement. Senior independent work carried out in ENVS or toward honors eligibility in Environmental Studies must be on a topic pertinent to the relationship between humans and environment

2. Advisor Affiliation. Senior independent work carried out in ENVS or toward honors eligibility must be supervised by at least one faculty advisor who is appointed in or affiliated with the Environmental Studies Program.

3. Seeking an Advisor. Students must choose and consult with a research advisor in the term prior to beginning the work.

4. ES Director Approval. Approval of the ES Director is required to enroll in ENVS 0700 and is granted on the basis of an independent work proposal. The proposal is to be developed in consultation with the research advisor and submitted via ENVS 0700 web form. The project proposal must include:

a. name of research advisor

b. an outline of the intended project, including how it is pertinent to the relationship between humans and environment

c. the nature of the work and any final products

d. whether the work is anticipated to be carried out as a one-semester project or as a multi-term thesis..

5. Considering Thesis Possibilities. If a student intends for the 700-project to advance to a thesis, the feasibility and any expectations associated with a potential thesis option should be discussed with the advisor(s) prior to enrolling in ENVS 700. It is not guaranteed at this point that a 700-project will be approved to advance to a multi-term thesis.

C.    Additional Rules & Requirements for senior thesis or senior integrative thesis work

All the rules and requirements described above for all types of senior work apply also to senior thesis work. Additional rules and requirements specific to theses are as follows:

  1. Multi-term Thesis. ENVS thesis students complete one or two terms of senior independent study (ENVS 0700) plus one term of senior thesis (ENVS 0701).
  2. Committee Support to Advance to Thesis. Advancing to the senior thesis (ENVS 0701) requires successful completion of ENVS 0700, convening of a thesis committee, and support from the committee to advance. In the final weeks of their last term of ENVS 0700, students must meet with their thesis committee to present the project work-to-date and the plan for completion of the thesis. Committee support to enroll in ENVS 0701is decided on the basis of this meeting.
  3. Thesis Committee Membership. Committees for asenior thesis must include, at a minimum, one primary advisor and a second reader, at least one of whom is appointed in or affiliated with the ES Program.
  4. ES Director Approval. Students who have committee support to enroll in ENVS 0701 must submit a brief project proposal, via the ENVS 0701 (thesis) web form, to the ES Director for final approval. The project proposal includes:

a. the names of the research advisor(s) and/or second reader

b. an outline of the intended thesis project, including:

i. how it pertains to the relationship between humans and environment (both types of theses)

c. the nature of the work and final product (typically a written thesis)

d. and the intended plan for public presentation of the final product (see below)

5. Public presentation of thesis work. All students completing an ENVS senior thesis must present their work publicly. In consultation with the thesis committee, students may present as part of the Spring Research Symposium or as a separate event arranged with the committee and ES Program.

6. Oral defense. Thesis students must orally defend their thesis work before their thesis committee. The oral defense will take place during the first week of the final exam period (or during the final week of Winter Term) and scheduled in consultation with the thesis committee.

Program in Environmental Studies

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