Identifying a Thesis Topic
Some students enter the graduate program in environmental studies with clear plans for their thesis direction based on their undergraduate training, professional experience, and/or career interests. The majority of students, however, enter the program with a more generalized interest in environmental issues. Since the thesis is the core requirement for the degree and helps to define your program of courses, it is important to give a high priority to defining your thesis research problem early in your time at Brown.
To assist you in this process, in the first half of your first semester, we will ask you to speak individually with the four or five ES faculty whose work is closest to your own interests. At around mid-semester, we will ask you to submit a ranked list of faculty who you would like to work with an a mentor. We will do our best to honor your request in matching you with a mentor, and ask you to meet regularly with this faculty member for the remainder of the first semester, in order to clarify your thesis interests and develop a focused central question for your research. Usually the mentor will also be your primary thesis supervisor, but in some cases, you will decide that a different faculty member may better be able to supervise your thesis work, and making this kind of change is certainly possible. It is best if by the beginning of the second semester, both the thesis topic and thesis supervisor are known with some certainty.