Guidelines for Honors Theses in Environmental Studies
Academic Year 2024/25
A student pursuing either the major or concentration in Environmental Studies can pursue an honors thesis, which is a year-long project conducted over the fall semester, Winter Study, and spring semester of the senior year. Given the breadth of environmental studies, a thesis may follow a variety of formats. In general, it is a good idea for the student to use the thesis to build upon prior coursework and/or prior research, internship, or activism experience, and many students conduct thesis research during the summer before senior year. Students completing an Environmental Studies thesis may elect to opt out of the ENVI Senior Seminar.
Prospective thesis students should submit their proposals by the first week of April in their Junior year using this Google Form: Honors Theses in Environmental Studies. However, students who plan to request a CES-ENVI summer student research/internship grant should have their proposals completed by the end of spring break to ensure that applications for summer funding can be made in a timely fashion. The ENVI Advisory Committee will review all thesis proposals and will notify students of decisions by the end of April.
Prospective thesis students should identify and work with an advisor to prepare the thesis proposal. Potential advisors may be any faculty member or affiliate of the Environmental Studies Program. If the advisor is a faculty affiliate, the student should also identify an ENVI faculty member to serve as second reader. The second reader provides additional guidance throughout the thesis process and evaluates the final product along with the thesis advisor. In cases when a prospective thesis student is unable to identify a thesis advisor, they should reach out to the chair for guidance.
The 5-page thesis proposal should include:
- A cover page with thesis title, student’s name, advisor, second reader if applicable, and a brief summary of the proposed work. The cover page should also specify whether the applicant is submitting an application for a CES summer research grant. An introduction to the topic, including a brief review of available research and an overview of the coursework and/or experiences that will contribute to the thesis.
- A brief description of the aims/objectives of the project.
- A discussion of the methodologies that will be employed.
- A proposed timeline for data collection, analysis, writing chapters, and incorporating feedback.
- A Reference Section listing the works cited in the proposal (this does not count as part of the 5-page limit for the proposal).
Faculty in the Environmental Studies program have a collection of sample proposals from prior years available on-line to guide students as they prepare their proposals. Links to completed environmental theses are available through the Williams College Libraries & Special Collections Unbound site.
The Environmental Studies Program will endeavor to facilitate networking among students who are working on theses in the same semester so that a thesis cohort can support each other through the research and writing process.
The final thesis will be evaluated by the thesis advisor and in some cases a second reader, who will then decide to award no Honors, Honors or, in recognition of exceptional work, Highest Honors.
When submitting your thesis to Williams’ library archive, please be sure to follow the Special Collections guidelines.
Timetable for Theses in Environmental Studies
|Timing During Academic Year
|Submission of thesis proposal
|Notification of acceptance
|End of April
|Introduction, thesis outline, and future plans
|End of finals, Fall Semester
|Meeting with second reader to discuss thesis
|1st complete draft to advisor and 2nd reader
|End of third week following spring break
|Final draft to advisor
|Last day of classes, Spring Semester
|Reading Period, Spring Semester
|Final copy of thesis / Archival copy for binding
|End of Final Exams, Spring Semester; due to Special Collections