Senior Work in Environmental Studies

These are senior work requirements for students matriculated fall 2018 or later, and for studentmatriculated 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. With program consultation and approval, required senior work in a focus may be expanded to meet the criteria for a multi-term integrative senior thesis. An integrative senior thesis simultaneously would fulfill the senior work requirement of the focus and the advanced integrative capstone requirement. In other cases, majors must complete the required senior independent work in the focus and, in addition, complete ENVS 0401 as their required advanced integrative capstone experience.

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), or
  • a multi-term integrative senior thesis (ENVS 0700/703).

Note that all senior independent work within ENVS begins as ENVS 0700. Whereas a multi-term integrative senior thesis satisfies the advanced integrative capstone requirement of the major, the other two types of independent senior work do not. 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, as a multi-term thesis, or as an integrative thesis.

5. Considering Thesis Possibilities. If a student intends for the 700-project to advance to a thesis or integrative 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 and/or integrative 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 and senior integrated 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 either one term of senior thesis (ENVS 0701) or senior integrative thesis (ENVS 0703).
  2. Committee Support to Advance to Thesis. Advancing to the senior thesis (ENVS 0701) or senior integrative thesis (ENVS 0703) 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 0701/0703 is decided on the basis of this meeting.
  3. Thesis Committee Membership. Committees for a (non-integrative) senior 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. Committees for an integrative senior thesis must include, at a minimum, two faculty advisors, typically from different academic divisions, 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 or 0703 must submit a brief project proposal, via the ENVS 0701 (thesis) or ENVS 0703 (integrative 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)

    ii. for integrative theses only, how it will meaningfully and substantially integrate perspectives, lenses, or methodologies from the academic division of the student’s focus and typically at least one other division

    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 or senior integrative 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