The W3

All Bates students must complete a major piece of writing in their senior year, known as the W3.  Environmental Studies (ES) majors currently have two options for completing their W3: a single-project research thesis (ENVR 457/458) or a portfolio thesis (ENVR 450). Whichever option you choose, you will focus on a particular topic and do extensive, focused research using methodologies appropriate to your ES concentration. As a capstone project, your W3 is an extension and outgrowth of all your previous work and studies in ES.

ENVR 457/458: This is the more “traditional” W3 where a student is matched with a faculty advisor (who can come from within or outside of ES) and develops an in-depth scholarly project. In the social sciences and natural sciences, typically a student chooses a research question or designs a project in collaboration with the advisor, and sometimes additionally, with a community partner as well. In the humanities, a student will typically collaborate with the advisor to develop a critical analysis of a cultural work or works (a text, film, etc.).  Almost all W3 projects in this format result in a single, longer written product, typically one written for a scholarly audience, though students wishing to undertake an extensive creative project should discuss this with potential W3 advisors. This W3 can occur in either fall or winter semester, or across both semesters. Most projects of this type require planning the semester or summer before, and most natural science theses require preparation during December or January (depending on whether a student is abroad in one semester) of the student’s junior year. 

ENVR 450: A “portfolio” W3 is a compilation of multiple shorter pieces of written or multi-media work on a topic of the student’s choosing. The components will cross different genres of writing (e.g., op-eds, story maps, podcasts, video essays) as the student learns to communicate complex environmental issues to various audiences. Students engage deeply with each other’s work with regular, structured peer feedback. ENVR 450 is run as a seminar during the winter semester.

If you have further questions or want help deciding between these options, please confer with your concentration advisor.

IMPORTANT DATES

DECEMBER/JANUARY OF JUNIOR YEAR
Students interested in summer field or laboratory research as part of their W3 and those who would like to work with faculty outside ES in the natural sciences are encouraged to begin speaking to potential advisors. Watch for announcements about orientation sessions from related academic units since assignment of advisors in Biology, Earth and Climate Science, and Chemistry typically happens early in winter semester, and failure to participate in assignment processes in those units may leave you unable to work with a faculty member of your choice. 

MARCH 1
Every Junior must submit their responses to a W3 survey that will be sent out by the ES chair around mid-February.  The survey asks about your preferences for the W3 (ENVR 450, ENVR 457, or ENVR 458) and about potential topics and advisors you have in mind.

MAY 1
Fall semester 457 students must submit a W3 proposal to the link on Lyceum. Students interested in pursuing honors are advised to submit the strongest possible proposals; an additional proposal may be due for these students in the fall.

FIRST MONDAY OF FALL SEMESTER
Students seeking admission to the college honors program must submit a full thesis proposal (or other required writing) to their thesis advisor. (See DETAILS OF HONORS PROCESS, below).

NOVEMBER 1
Winter semester 450 and 458 students must submit a W3 proposal to the link on Lyceum.

NOVEMBER 15
Honors candidates must submit at least a table of contents and one chapter of the W3 to the ES committee.

LAST WEDNESDAY OF FALL SEMESTER
All W3 students completing 1 semester fall and 2 semester fall/winter W3 projects must present a poster illustrating their W3 work at the ES Poster Event held in Hedge. **Due to COVID 19- All students completing 1 semester fall W3  projects and all those working on 2 semester fall/winter W3 projects must prepare and submit a 3-minute video to the ES committee by MONDAY, 30 NOVEMBER. These will be compiled, and there will be a synchronous screening and discussion on WEDNESDAY, 2 DECEMBER. See information below (Public W3 Presentation) and watch for instructions about how and where to submit.

READING DAY OF FINALS WEEK
Students seeking admission to the college honors program must give an oral presentation to the ES committee.

LAST DAY OF FINALS FOR FALL SEMESTER
All students completing their W3 in fall semester must have uploaded their W3 project to SCARAB and filed the completed authorship and embargo form with the program.

LAST WEDNESDAY OF WINTER SEMESTER
All students completing 1 semester W3 projects in the winter semester and all 2 semester W3 students must present a poster illustrating their W3 research at the ES Poster Event held in Hedge. **Due to COVID-19 this presentation will likely be in a different format. 

LAST DAY OF FINALS FOR WINTER SEMESTER
All students completing their W3 in winter semester must have uploaded their W3 project to SCARAB and filed the completed authorship and embargo form with the program.

STEPS TO COMPLETE YOUR W3

1: PLAN YOUR W3 PROJECT

The W3 project is by definition student-driven, and the planning process begins with you. Depending on the kind of W3 you want to write, development of a project idea may involve faculty input early on in the process, or may be developed entirely by you, or something in between. In all cases, it is up to you to approach potential advisors for further discussion and idea development. Juniors are reminded that they will declare their interest in either 457/458 or 450 by March 1, and that those planning to register for their W3 in the fall will need to submit a W3 proposal by May 1 . Those applying for project funding should also keep an eye on those deadlines. (See W3 Funding, below). All juniors will be added to the ES W3 Lyceum page in winter term.

  • Methods: You are encouraged to consider the major methodologies within your concentration, and to choose carefully among them when developing your W3 proposal. Any of the associated ES faculty are happy to help you work through this.
  • Audience: Consider your intended audience while developing your project ideas. Those choosing ENVR 457/458 will generally write in the style of a scholarly journal, or similarly formal style. The ENVR 450 option will produce work aimed at a variety of public audiences.
  • Community-engagement: While a faculty thesis advisor is required, interested students are also welcome to work with a community partner or to otherwise engage with related stakeholders. ES faculty and Harward Center staff are always happy to help students develop these ideas, and of course those who have their own community connections and relationships are encouraged to bring these to their project.
  • Summer research: For students interested in pursuing summer field or lab research, December/January of junior year is the time to begin approaching potential advisors. There is no hard deadline, but the earlier the better, particularly for students wanting to work with advisors in departments and programs outside ES where assignment of thesis advisors can happen as early as January. Some advisors will have larger projects within which individual projects can be developed. Others will supervise students to work on more independent projects. Off-campus programs can also provide opportunities for projects. One example is the NSF-REU program, which places students all over the country to work with scientists at different field locations. In some cases, data obtained from such an opportunity can be used as the core for a W3 project.

2: SUBMIT A W3 PROPOSAL

Instructions for submitting a 457/458 proposal
Students interested in signing up for this W3 option should submit the following: 

  • A one-paragraph summary of the topic or question you are interested in investigating.
  • A brief statement of why the topic interests you, and why you think it is important, as well as how it relates to your ES coursework.
  • A list of at least five works that you have read or of which you are aware that relate to your topic. This should be primarily scholarly work but may also include some public environmental writing.
  • A brief statement of the methods you would use to pursue the project.
  • The names of two faculty members at Bates with whom you can imagine working on your topic plus a clear statement of what you have discussed with these faculty.
  • Make sure that the document also includes
    • your name
    • your ES concentration
    • a statement of the semester(s) in which you plan to enroll in 457/458
    • a statement about whether you would like this project to count toward more than one major
    • details about relationships with outside advisors or community partners that might be relevant

Please submit this as a single file to the link on Lyceum.

Students seeking entry to the college honors program must do an excellent job on the above in May of their junior year and will be required to submit an additional, more complete thesis proposal in fall of the senior year.  (See DETAILS OF HONORS PROCESS, below).

Instructions for submitting ENVR 450 proposal
Students interested in signing up for this W3 option should submit the following:

  • A one-paragraph summary of the topic or question you are interested in investigating.
  • A brief statement of why the topic interests you, and why you think it is important, as well as how it relates to your ES coursework.
  • A list of at least five works that you have read or of which you are aware that relate to your topic (this may be a combination of scholarly and public environmental work).
  • A brief statement of the genre or medium you wish to pursue for the project; if you are not sure yet, you can just say that – or suggest a couple of different genres or media you are considering.
  • The names of two faculty at Bates with whom you can imagine consulting on your topic along with a statement about whether or not you have spoken with them about your topic.
  • Make sure that the document also includes
    • your name
    • your ES concentration
    • details about relationships with outside advisors or community partners that might be relevant

Please submit this as a single file to the link on Lyceum.

3: DO THE WORK

All students
Look to your W3 advisor for guidance about expectations for content, process, and timeline. Your W3 advisor will also set expectations for the format in which your final materials are due.

Honors
Students seeking admission to the college honors program will submit a table of contents and sample chapter by November 15 to the ES program committee. Students whose work is judged satisfactory at that time will be invited to give a presentation on reading day at the end of fall semester. Decisions about entry to the honors program are made by the ES program committee on the basis of materials submitted and input from the student’s thesis advisor. 

4: PUBLIC W3 PRESENTATION

**Due to COVID 19 the fall semester 2020 final presentation will consist of a 3-minute video.

  • Each student should prepare a 3-minute video of your project by Monday, November 30 at noon.
  • This video can take a variety of forms: a short slideshow with voice-over-narration, a film, a recorded presentation, etc.
  • Upload the video to the shared Google drive labeled “Environmental Studies W3”. Watch for an email from the ES chair with the link for this drive.
  • The ES program will host a virtual W3 presentation on Wednesday, December 2 from 3:00pm-5:00pm (Eastern Standard Time). During this synchronous Zoom session, we will view these videos with time allotted for questions from the audience.

During regular Bates semesters 
All Environmental Studies majors participate in public poster presentations as part of the W3 process. A poster session is organized for Wednesday in the last week of the fall and winter semester classes during which each senior registered for a W3 during that semester presents a poster. For two-semester and honors theses, a poster is required in both the fall and winter semesters. The exact dates for the poster sessions will be announced by the ES Chair. Consult with your W3 advisor regarding the expectations for the posters. Online resources are available to assist you with poster planning and execution. Printing of the final posters is completed by Bates Post & Print. All ES majors should plan to attend all poster sessions: your questions and feedback are important to your fellow students and will also help you with your own W3.

Honors
Students applying for admission to the college honors program will make an additional public presentation to the ES Committee faculty.

5: THE FINAL W3 SUBMISSION PROCEDURES

Advisor’s Copy of the W3
Upon completion of a W3, each student must consult with their W3 advisor(s) to determine the proper format for submitting a copy to them.

  • If a printed, bound copy is required, the ES committee requires double-spaced, 2-sided copies, using mirrored margins of 1.25 inches on the inside edge.  These margins can be set in the Print options of Word. Special paper is not required.  
  • If an electronic version is required, the advisor(s) will specify the format for delivery.

ES Program Copy of the W3
The ES committee requires that each student upload a copy of their final W3 to the Bates digital archive SCARAB.   

Prior to uploading the W3, each student must complete the SCARAB Authorship, Access, and Embargo form in consultation with their W3 advisor.  

  • Students should review the SCARAB Authorship, Access, and Embargo form, contact their W3 advisor, discuss the form, and fill in the appropriate lines and boxes. 
  • **Due to COVID 19 The student must email the completed form to their W3 advisor for their signature.   
  • Your W3 advisor will submit the form to Camille Parrish who will retain it for the ES Program.

Upon completion of the SCARAB Authorship, Access, and Embargo form, the student can upload their W3 to SCARAB.  

  • Step by step instructions for this process are contained in the following document: Uploading-to-SCARAB

Both uploading the W3 to SCARAB and submitting the SCARAB Authorship and Embargo form are required for graduation.

W3 FUNDING

In some cases, it will be appropriate for students to consider applying for funding to support a project. Funds might be used for things such as field work expenses or travel and/or housing at a study site or archival resource. Bates has a number of grants for which students can apply, and some smaller expenses can be covered by the ES program with approval from your advisor. Check out the funding opportunities linked below and discuss your opportunities and needs with your concentration or potential W3 advisor.

Click here for summer research funding opportunities, including fully funded, summer-long opportunities.

Click here for academic year funding opportunities

HONORS THESIS EXPECTATIONS

Select two-semester theses may be eligible to be completed through the college honors program, a program that has additional expectations for work, a final defense with an outside examiner, and an accelerated timeline for submission. Students choosing to pursue honors should familiarize themselves with the expectations noted here and the additional required deadlines. Not all two-semester theses need be pursued as honors theses, but all honors theses require a two-semester commitment.

Receipt of Honors in Environmental Studies is a special distinction reserved for those students who have excelled in their academic accomplishments throughout their time at Bates and have completed a thesis project with certain distinguishing characteristics and features. The distinction of honors requires that the student and the thesis meet all of the criteria specified below. The effort the student puts in along with the approach to the topic and final thesis document all are important factors in a decision of whether to award honors. An outstanding performance in several of the expectations may offset a less than exemplary performance in another area. A significant deficiency in any one expectation is sufficient grounds to deny honors.

The thesis must explore a novel question or topic within the field of environmental studies and use methods drawn from the student’s area of concentration. This exploration should be exemplary in its design, methodological rigor, creativity, and breadth or depth. The student must demonstrate a high level of self-motivation, independence and continuous engagement in the project over the entire two semesters. The thesis should describe a project that, if brought to completion, would be suitable for dissemination within an appropriate peer-reviewed venue in the student’s area of study. In most instances, this means that the thesis work would be suitable for publication in the peer-reviewed literature, either as a stand-alone item or as part of a larger project. In fields such as the creative arts, the work would be suitable for exhibition or presentation at an appropriate public forum. The program recognizes that two semesters of work is seldom sufficient to complete a project to the point of a peer-reviewed publication or final public presentation, but the project should be on a trajectory for such an outcome.

In the written thesis and oral defense, the student must demonstrate facility and expertise within the broad field of environmental studies as well as the more focused topic of the environmental studies concentration. This facility should include a thorough understanding of the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of the project. The student must have advanced the project to the stage where defensible conclusions can be drawn or finished products can be evaluated.

The thesis must be well written and accessible to expert and non-expert audiences.  A high quality written thesis is well organized, concise, grammatically and mechanistically correct, coherent and logical in its arguments and development of ideas.  The written thesis must cite appropriate sources that inform the project.  Data must be clearly presented.  Language must be precise, sophisticated and incorporate terminology appropriate for the topic of the thesis.

In the oral exam, the student must be able to answer questions posed by the examination committee and engage with members of the committee in a scholarly discussion of all facets of the project. The student must also recognize the limits of knowledge, understanding, or creation and be able to identify appropriate next steps in analysis, study, exploration of literature, or generation of creative products. The oral examination panel members, who may consult with the advisor, have final authority for judging whether the student has satisfactorily met the criteria for receipt of honors.

Admission to the honors program is granted by the ES program committee in consultation with the thesis advisor. Students wishing to be considered for admission to the honors program should follow the guidelines below. Students not recommended to the honors program by the ES committee may be asked to complete a one-semester thesis or may continue to complete a non-honors two-semester thesis at the recommendation of the thesis advisor. Once a student is admitted to the honors program, the thesis advisor has the authority to withdraw the student from the honors program at any time prior to the submission deadline for the written thesis. Such students will continue on in the normal progression for a non-honors, two-semester thesis.

SUMMARY OF HONORS PROCESS

  • Discuss the possibility of doing honors with possible advisors and indicate your interest on the pre-proposal application in the winter semester of the junior year.
  • Submit an excellent W3 proposal in winter semester of the junior year.
  • On the first Monday of the fall semester in senior year, submit a more complete proposal or other piece of initial writing to the W3 advisor. This will be evaluated both by the advisor and the ES program committee.
  • Submit to the ES committee a complete table of contents and draft of one chapter of the thesis by November 15.
  • Give a poster presentation on your project at the Environmental Studies W3 poster session at the end of fall semester.
  • Give an oral presentation on your project to your advisor and the members of the Environmental Studies program committee during reading day of finals week in fall semester. The outcome of the oral presentation and subsequent question-and-answer period will determine whether or not you will be admitted to the honors program. Students who are not asked to move forward with honors may be required to complete the thesis by the end of the fall semester.
  • Complete the written work in winter semester in time for the accelerated deadline for honors theses. Either the advisor or the student may withdraw the student from the honors program at any point in winter semester prior to submission of the written thesis.
  • Complete an oral defense of the work with a committee of Bates faculty and an outside examiner.

Complete any technical revisions required and submit the final thesis to SCARAB.

DETAILS OF HONORS PROCESS

Winter semester of the junior year
Students should discuss the possibility of conducting an honors thesis with potential advisors prior to completing the W3 preference survey in March and during the preparation of the proposal that is due in May of the junior year. After reviewing your thesis proposal and checking with your thesis advisor, the ES program committee will indicate whether you have met the basic requirements to be considered for the honors program. These requirements include an excellent proposal and excellence in academic accomplishments in previous work at Bates, usually with a GPA over 3.5.

Summer between junior and senior year
Students intending to pursue honors are expected to further develop their thesis topic prior to the start of the fall term of the senior year. Consult with your thesis advisor during this time period.

Fall semester of senior year
First Monday of fall semester: In general, a final full thesis proposal is due to your advisor on the first Monday of the fall semester of your senior year. In some instances, the advisor may request a different type of work as a requirement for an early submission, but this will be clearly specified by your advisor.

  • A student interested in seeking admission to the honors program should have a clearly defined thesis topic/question in the final thesis proposal and have identified the key components of the thesis that will need to be developed. This full thesis proposal will include a thorough annotated bibliography of sources that will inform early work on the thesis.
  • The ES program committee, in consultation with your advisor, will indicate whether you have met the basic requirements (usually a GPA over 3.5 and excellence in academic accomplishments in previous work at Bates) and have a thesis proposal sufficient to proceed toward possible nomination for the honors program.

By November 15: Students intending to pursue entry to the college honors program must submit to their advisor and the ES program committee the following items:

  •  A table of contents for the thesis that includes a title and brief description of the content for each chapter.
  • A working draft of at least one chapter of the thesis.

These materials will be read by members of the ES program committee prior to the oral presentation.

Monday (reading day) of finals week: Students will give an oral presentation to the thesis advisor and Environmental Studies program committee. The presentation should provide the committee with an organized overview of the project, a description of progress made to date, and future plans including a timetable for completion of the project. The student must exhibit poise and confidence during the seminar. The student must be able to answer questions posed by members of the program committee and engage with members of the committee in a scholarly discussion of the project.

The committee and thesis advisor will judge the quality of the presentation and written materials to determine whether the student is making satisfactory progress toward completion of an honors thesis. The ES program committee, in consultation with the advisor, will make a decision whether the student will be permitted to complete a two-semester thesis with the possibility of moving forward for honors or will be asked to complete a one-semester thesis. In the instance that high quality materials have been presented and progress is judged to be sufficient, the student will look to the thesis advisor for direction about what is to be completed over the December/January break. In some instances, the ES program committee and thesis advisor may ask that particular goals be reached over the break. 

Winter semester of senior year
Honors nominations are due to the college at the end of the first week of the winter semester. Decisions about whether a student should move forward to Honors candidacy will be made at this time by the ES program committee in consultation with the thesis advisor on the basis of the work completed during fall semester, including the writing sample and the student’s presentation.  In instances of a positive assessment, the ES chair will nominate the student for the college honors program.

If, at any time prior to the submission of the written thesis, the thesis advisor feels that the student is not meeting the expectations of the ES program for a satisfactory honors thesis, the advisor has the authority to withdraw the student from the honors program.

A student formally nominated for honors can withdraw from the program at any time prior to the thesis submission deadline or oral exam date.