Thesis/ENVR 450 Guidelines

Getting Started*

An Environmental Studies major culminates in a polished piece of written work for either a scholarly or public audience.  In either case, the written piece builds upon the course work and other experiences of your ES concentration and receives credit for the W3 requirement. You should explore a topic of interest in great depth and with all the relevant intellectual tools at your disposal. As a capstone project, your W3 is an extension and outgrowth of all your previous work and studies in ES. You should select a topic that 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 W3 options. You may apply to do a one semester thesis during either the fall or winter term, a two-semester honors thesis, a two-semester non-honors thesis, or to complete ENVR 450, Environmental Writing in the Public Sphere.

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 what you will do to complete your W3 including whether you will complete ENVR 450 or a thesis, and, if you complete a thesis, whether you will do a one or two-semester thesis, the semester in which a one-semester thesis will be written, 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 piece of capstone-level writing, you must begin the prescribed process during the winter semester of your junior year, prior to your initial enrollment in ENVR 450, 457 or 458. Students who spend second semester of their junior year abroad should consult with their concentration advisor before the semester spent away from the college since the application for the W3 option must be submitted during winter semester of the junior year. Any students with an application deemed to be unacceptable must work to revise their application prior to the end of the junior academic year, so that the student can be assigned to ENVR 450, 457, or 458 prior to the senior year.  Students who are assigned to the thesis option may be required to submit a full thesis proposal  by the First Monday of Fall Semester of their senior year.

NOTE: The quality of the W3 application submitted on the first Monday in March of the junior year will determine which option a student is permitted to pursue.  If the application is not of sufficient quality, the student will not be assigned to a W3 option and will not be eligible to register for the W3.  Failure to submit an acceptable application ultimately may prevent graduation. To prevent this situation, write a strong application that clearly identifies your research topic, indicates the appropriateness of your research within your chosen concentration, and shows your familiarity with relevant scholarly literature in the field.  See Thesis/ENVR450 Application for details.

*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.