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Procedural Requirements and Deadlines

I. LEARNING OBJECTIVES

We acknowledge the diversity of student career goals and the value of diverse experiences by which students integrate their Brown education. Given that over ninety percent of CES undergraduates pursue post-graduate education and/or employment in the area of the environment, the Center should provide the following to Environmental Studies undergraduate concentrators and other students we teach:

1. KEY CONTENT: educate students about the context of environmental issues. Learning this content will provide students the opportunity to address the following learning objectives:

  • Understanding the complexity and interdisciplinarity of environmental issues
  • Critical thinking
  • Research and relevant analytical skills
  • Writing and communication

2. PRACTICE: expose students to environmental problem solving, emphasizing:

  • Critical thinking
  • Research and relevant analytical skills
  • Evidence of independent thought
  • Independent effort and team work
  • Writing and communication
  • Engagement with environmental organizations, agencies, and affected communities

3. DEMONSTRATION: require students to engage with environmental professionals and practitioners, to require them to practice:

  • Critical thinking skills
  • Research and relevant analytical skills
  • Writing and communication
  • Experience with problem-solving
  • Team work

The capstone experience should address most of these, but others will be developed in other courses and concentration experiences. The capstone should provide an opportunity to integrate these earlier experiences and allow students to demonstrate and improve their mastery of environmental research and problem-solving.

SENIOR CAPSTONE REQUIREMENTS IN ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES FOR 2012-2013

Version as of April 15, 2013, subject to change.

The capstone requirement may be satisfied in one of three ways:

  • Thesis Research: This may be a one or two semester project, done under the supervision of a faculty member. Students who undertake a one-year project may be eligible to graduate with honors. The research may be done individually, or, with prior approval, in teams. In addition to handing in a written thesis, the work will be presented at a poster session at the end of the Semester. Please see the table of deadlines. Students who qualify for honors in ES may do an honors thesis, which will be presented in an oral defense, as described below. All students choosing the thesis option must register for ENVS1970 and/or ENVS1971.
  • HONORS Thesis: Students who qualify for honors in ES may do an honors thesis, which will be presented in an oral defense, as described below. All students choosing the thesis option must register for ENVS1970 and/or ENVS1971. Learn more.
  • Environmental Practicum: The practicum is a supervised, unpaid project undertaken (at least 150 hours) during the academic year in pursuit of practical experience. The project necessitates pre-approval and supervision by a faculty member and a sponsoring environmental agency, organization or firm. The practicum must include substantial research and writing components. It must be related to the student’s focus and result in a final project that is accepted by the supervising organization, the faculty advisor, and the concentration advisor. The practicum may be done individually, or, with prior approval, in teams. In addition to handing in a written report, the work will be presented at a poster session at the end of the Semester.. Please see the table of deadlines. Students choosing this option are required to register for ENVS1970 and/or ENVS1971.
  • Capstone course: to be chosen from the following list. The course must be taken during the senior year, in order to provide an opportunity to assimilate knowledge from previous coursework. Instructors may assign special work for students taking a course for capstone credit.

    • ENVS1929 The Fate of the Coast: Land Use and Public Policy in an Era of Rising Seas ( senior seminar course) Spring 2014 (Cornelia Dean)
    • ENVS1925 Energy Policy and Politics (senior seminar course) Fall 2013 (M. Dawn King.)
    • ENVS1755 Globalization and the Environment (senior seminar course) Spring 2014(J. Timmons Roberts)

    Click here for capstone course descriptions

Approval for Team Projects: The Undergraduate Committee must approve proposals (either one-semester research experiences or two-semester theses) for Team Projects, which will be approved only in cases where it is obvious what multiple members of the team are unique and complementary to each other. The quantity and quality of the work is expected to far exceed what one person might reasonably accomplish in a similar defined period of time.

Advising: Students are encouraged to seek advising and advice from experts beyond the CES faculty, across Brown and the local, national and even international community of environmental academics and practitioners. The Undergraduate Committee must approve the selection of advisors who are not CES faculty (defined as all faculty with Environmental Studies in their title – core, non-core, adjunct, visiting). Normally, core faculty members in the CES are expected to be the primary advisor for 3-5 total M.A. and senior theses per year. Non-core CES faculty are expected to advise at least one student every other year. For this reason, students may have to seek alternative advisors as first readers—others may serve as resource people on their areas of expertise.

Deadlines:

In addition to individual advising meetings, all students will meet at least three times per semester with their thesis advisor’s group of seniors.

Deadlines One Semester Thesis/Practicum - Fall Semester

Fall Add / Drop Period Register for the ENVS-1970 Independent Study section assigned to your Thesis/Capstone Advisor.

Sep. 25

Draft 1-page proposal (with draft outline and topic statement and 5-20 good sources) due to the project advisor and concentration advisor.  A template with the suggested format for a research or practicum proposal may be downloaded here.

Oct. 15

Revised and expanded proposal due and posted

Oct. 30

Introduction and literature review draft

(If the advisor wants to read chapter drafts, intermediate deadlines should be established)

Nov. 26th (Monday after Thanksgiving)

Complete draft of one-semester capstone project due

Dec. 07

Poster Presentation to CES - FOR STUDENTS GRADUATING IN DECEMBER (.5)

Apr. 26

Poster Presentation to CES - Located in Faunce Casper Multi Purpose Room from 1:00-3:00 PM - FOR STUDENTS GRADUATING IN MAY

Exam period

Final draft due: consult with advisor about date

 

Deadlines One Semester Thesis/Practicum - Spring Semester

Spring Add / Drop Period Register for the ENVS-1971 Independent Study section assigned to your Thesis/Capstone Advisor.

February 1

Draft proposal (with draft outline and topic statement and 10-20 good sources), due to the project advisor and concentration advisor. A template with the suggested format for a research or practicum proposal may be downloaded here.

February 15

Revised proposal due and posted

Reading period, Dec.8-12

Introduction and literature review draft due

Apr. 1 (Monday after Spring Recess)

Full draft due

Apr. 26

Poster Presentation to CES - Located in Faunce Casper Multi Purpose Room from 1:00-3:00 PM - FOR STUDENTS GRADUATING IN MAY

May 2

Final draft due–consult with advisor about the date

 

Deadlines Two Semester Thesis/Practicum

Fall Add / Drop Period Register for the ENVS-1970 Independent Study section assigned to your Thesis/Capstone Advisor.

Sep. 30

Draft proposal (with draft outline and topic statement and 10-20 good sources), due to the project advisor and concentration advisor. A template with the suggested format for a research or practicum proposal may be downloaded here.

Oct. 30

Revised proposal due and posted

Reading period, Dec.8-12

Introduction and literature review draft due

(If the advisor wants to read chapter drafts, intermediate deadlines should be established)

Spring Add / Drop Period Register for the ENVS-1971 Independent Study section assigned to your Thesis/Capstone Advisor.

Apr. 1 (Monday after Spring Recess)

Full draft due

Apr. 26

Poster Presentation to CES - Located in Faunce Casper Multi Purpose Room from 1:00-3:00 PM - FOR STUDENTS GRADUATING IN MAY

May 2

Final draft due–consult with advisor about the date

HONORS IN ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES AT BROWN

Expectations for Honors

There are three distinctions between the standard and Honors thesis. The Honors thesis has significantly higher performance expectations than the standard senior thesis for methodological, analytical and writing quality, and for original contribution of the work. Honors theses should aspire to be of potentially publishable quality, in academic or trade journals, or as a detailed and publishable report for environmental practitioners. (Some additional sections may be required of Honors theses that would not appear in an academic article or report, such as detailed methodology and literature reviews, or more speculative thoughts on policy implications, in the case of scientific articles.) More attention will be paid in Honors theses to the integrity of data collection techniques and data analysis; therefore, Honors candidates relying on quantitative data usually will need to demonstrate or acquire familiarity with appropriate statistics. If students are doing senior or Honors theses as part of an ongoing faculty research project ("working in someone's lab"), they must do significant work formulating an original and related thesis question and ways to answer it. The unique contribution of ES theses is their inclusion of policy or human environmental interaction elements in their research, beyond a single disciplinary approach.

Second, a minimum grade point average of 3.3 in concentration courses generally is required for Honors, but exceptions may be made if there are extenuating circumstances and if the student has shown the ability to work independently and has a well-formulated topic to study and plan to develop the research. Juniors wishing to be considered for Honors must submit a plan for their Honors thesis by the end of exams of the spring semester, and research may begin the summer before senior year. Finally, a senior Honors candidate must have two readers in addition to her/his primary faculty supervisor (who may or may not have a faculty appointment in the Center). One reader or advisor outside the CES program is strongly recommended. In contrast, if a student chooses to write a standard senior thesis, they will typically have one ES faculty or CES adjunct faculty member as their sole reader or advisor. The Honors thesis requires a formal defense, described below.

Honors Readers:

To be awarded Honors, three readers will review the manuscript. The student's thesis advisor can count as one of the the three readers. When requesting to be considered for departmental Honors, students should suggest additional readers, and get the preliminary agreement of these individuals to act in this capacity. The student will propose a three person committee to the Undergraduate Committee, and set up a meeting with all three by October 15th to agree on expectations for the work. During the year, a CES faculty member will act as the primary advisor, guiding the student through the process. A second meeting will be held by February 15th with the entire committee to be sure there is progress and that it is likely to result in a defensible thesis. The second and third readers will normally attend these two meetings and review materials in preparation for them, and review the full "review draft" (due April 1st). External readers (such as agency personnel) are expected to review progress in the same way meetings can be attended by speakerphone or Skype if necessary. The final defense draft is due April 15th; defenses will be held the first week in May. For deadlines earlier in the year, readers must return comments and requests for edits to students in two calendar weeks; students must build these intervals into their time lines. For the final draft, comments must be returned to students in 7-10 calendar days. Grades and Honors theses marks must be submitted in ample time for the Registrar's deadlines (Thursday before grades are due, which is a week before graduation).

The Honors Defense

Normally, Honors is decided at the end of the defense, if the committee decides it merits this level of distinction. Normally, Honors thesis defenses will include an open portion, where there is a (20 minute) presentation of the work (what were the core questions, what was attempted, what was accomplished, what future research is needed). Visitors will depart, and the committee will then question the student. The student will then be sent out of the room for private deliberations by the reviewers, who will reach a decision  as to whether the thesis merits Honors or the normal year-long Senior Thesis designation. The student will be brought back in and told the committee's decision.

In the case of community-based Honors theses, a public presentation(s) may be held to communicate the findings to audiences outside the university, and evaluation by the committee may occur separately from that presentation. The committee will evaluate both written thesis and the public presentations in considering the designation of the thesis as Honors.

Examples of Honors Proposals:

Deadlines for Honors Thesis

Exam Period, Junior Year

Draft proposal for Honors.

Summer before Senior Year

Research should begin

Fall Add / Drop Period Senior Year Register for the ENVS-1970 Independent Study section assigned to your Thesis/Capstone Advisor.

Sep. 30

Second draft proposal (with draft outline and topic statement and 20-30 good sources), due to the project advisor and concentration advisor.

Oct. 30

Final proposal DUE and posted

Reading period, Dec.8-12

Introduction and literature review draft DUE

(Intermediate deadlines should be established with committee for chapter drafts, typically in Feb and March)

Spring Add / Drop Period Senior Year Register for the ENVS-1971 Independent Study section assigned to your Thesis/Capstone Advisor.

Apr. 1 (Monday after Spring Recess)

Full draft DUE

Apr. 26

Poster Presentation to CES - Located in Faunce Casper Multi Purpose Room from 1:00-3:00 PM

Apr. 1-30 Your honors defense should scheduled during this time period to allow time for revisions if necessary.

Apr. 30

Deadline to hand in final draft to advisor/committee

May 2

Deadline for Honors Recommendations Due to the Registrar.