Environmental Studies Research Opportunities

Students taking notes on the fauna found on the hiking trail

Environmental Studies Independent Study & Research Guidelines

Participation in an independent study or research project can be a very rewarding part of any student's program.  You can study an area in depth, become an expert in a topic, complete a project that you are passionate about, or participate in a research project sponsored by a faculty member.

  1. Get a faculty sponsor.  If you have an idea for a project, discuss it with a likely faculty sponsor.  If you are interested in aiding a faculty member with an ongoing research project, discuss possible projects with one or more potential sponsors.  Faculty members from any department may supervise a project with approval of the Environmental Studies Program Chair.
  2. Decide whether you want 1 or 0.5 unit of credit.  In general, 1 unit of credit will require about 10 hours of work per week for 13 weeks and may include library work, reading, field or laboratory work, writing, presentation preparation, or other activities important to the project and approved by the faculty advisor.  A 0.5 unit credit project will require about 5 hours per week for 13 weeks.
  3. Write up a project proposal. This document need not be long, but should include
    a. Description of the proposed project goals
    b. Background information
    c.  Description of the work to be completed including a general timeline for the work
    d. Description of needed materials and/or funds, including a plan for obtaining these
    e. Description of needed permits, agreements with external agencies, IRB approval, safety measures, hazardous materials, etc.
    f.  Description of the final product of the project.  This could be a library-based paper, laboratory or field work, professional product or proposal, etc. Your faculty sponsor can guide and assist the preparation of your proposal.
  4. Complete an ENST Project Application Coversheet including at least two learning outcomes (see below)
  5. Note that this requires the signature of your faculty sponsor, which will only be given when the faculty member is satisfied with your proposal.

Learning Outcomes:  Learning outcomes are statements of what you should be able to as a result of completing this project.  Learning outcomes will help you connect your project to other academic experiences.  Get help from your faculty sponsor to craft these.  Good outcomes include action verbs such as explain, describe, analyze, write, etc. that specify what you can do.  Do not use verbs such as know or understand.  Your application must include at least two learning outcomes.

Due date:  The completed proposal and coversheet is due to the Environmental Studies Chair by the end of the registration period the semester prior to when you plan to conduct and receive credit for the work so please plan ahead!  You will be registered for credit along with all of your other course registrations during the semester prior to the actual project work.  Completion of an acceptable proposal generally takes a couple of weeks and multiple meetings with your faculty sponsor, so start the process early.

Project requirements:  All projects require:

  1. Completion of the project to the satisfaction of the faculty sponsor.
  2. A professional paper.  For some projects the paper will be the main product of the project.  For other projects focused on a different sort of product, a supplementary paper describing the goals, process, and product is required.  Specifically address the learning outcomes you wrote in your application.  Demonstrate that you have accomplished these.  Include any new outcomes that you didn't anticipate.  An electronic copy of this paper and any other appropriate products of the project are due to the faculty supervisor and Environmental Studies Chair no later than the Monday of the last full week of classes for the term in which you receive credit.  All materials will be archived.
  3. A presentation at the College Showcase Event, with appropriate visual aids.  Typical presentations will be a poster.  A draft of your poster must first be presented to your faculty sponsor.  Only when the faculty sponsor has deemed the poster acceptable will you be permitted to print and present at the Showcase.  In the case that no acceptable poster is generated, you will receive a grade of "F" for the project work.
  4. Whenever appropriate, students and faculty sponsors are encouraged to find an opportunity to present projects in oral, poster, or written format at external venues.

Environmental Studies Departmental Honors Application 

Environmental Studies Independent Research Application