Thesis Guidelines

Getting Started*

An Environmental Studies thesis must build upon the course work and other experiences of your ES Concentration. Your thesis should explore its topic of interest in great depth and with all the relevant intellectual tools at your disposal. As a capstone project, your thesis is an extension and outgrowth of all your previous work and studies in ES. You should select a thesis topic which will allow you to make the most of the skills, knowledge, and ideas you have acquired as an ES major, particularly those gained in your ES Concentration.

As an ES major, you have a number of thesis options. You may apply to do a one semester thesis during either the fall or winter term, a two-semester honors thesis, or a two-semester non-honors thesis.

You should discuss your options with your concentration advisor and potential thesis advisors to determine which option is best for you and your proposed topic. The ES Committee makes the ultimate decision on whether you will do a one or two-semester thesis, which semester a one semester thesis will be written in, and whether or not you may pursue honors. Doing an honors thesis requires exceptional effort and dedication, and there are several steps in this process.  See the section on Honors Theses in Environmental Studies for the full details.

In order to produce a successful thesis, you must begin the prescribed process during the winter semester of your junior year, prior to your initial enrollment in ENVR 457 or ENVR 458. Students who spend second semester of their junior year abroad must consult with their concentration advisor and submit a Thesis Pre-Proposal before or during the semester spent away from the college. Any students with Pre-Proposals deemed to be unacceptable must work with their concentration advisor to prepare a new proposal by the First Monday of Fall Semester of their senior year.  It is designed to ensure that before you begin your senior year, you will have consulted with your concentration advisor, been assigned a thesis advisor, and chosen a thesis topic. This will enable you to spend sufficient time drafting your final thesis proposal before submitting it to your thesis advisor.

NOTE: The quality of the thesis pre-proposal due on the last Friday in March of your junior year will be used in determining whether a student will be authorized to conduct a two-semester thesis or be limited to a one-semester thesis. If the thesis pre-proposal is not of sufficient quality, the student will automatically be required to conduct a one-semester thesis in the winter term.

A strong proposal clearly identifies your research topic and indicates the appropriateness of your research within your chosen concentration. It also shows your familiarity with relevant scholarly literature in the field. A proposal considered “accepted” must have been submitted and reviewed by your advisor before the end of the “add” period of the semester in which you start to write your thesis. Early and frequent consultation with potential thesis advisors and, after one is assigned, your thesis advisor is the best route to successful proposal and thesis development.

*The ES thesis pages owe a great deal to similar material produced by the Women and Gender Studies Program Committee, and the Environmental Studies Program Committee would like to gratefully acknowledge this contribution.