Honors in Environmental Studies

Honors in Environmental Studies (Major or Concentration)

Guidelines Honors Theses in Environmental Studies
(Ratified 11 Nov 2019)
A student pursuing either the major or concentration in Environmental Studies or the concentration in Maritime Studies can pursue an honors thesis. The thesis can be a year-long project (including winter study) or a one semester + winter-study effort. Only students completing a year-long thesis in ENVI can request to opt out of ENVI 412 – Senior Seminar. Students conducting theses in other departments may not opt out of ENVI 412. A thesis requiring the collection of field data in the spring of the year can be started during the Junior year spring semester, but requires close coordination with the thesis supervisor. See Attached Schedule for various options.  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 course work and/or prior research, internship, or activism experience.

Proposals for theses starting in the fall semester are due to the ENVI Committee by the first Friday in March of the junior year. It is recommend that applicants identify potential advisors during Fall semester so that they may collaborate with and receive feedback from them as they prepare their proposal. Students requesting a CES-ENVI summer student research/internship grant, should have their proposals completed earlier in the spring semester of the junior year to ensure that applications for funding can be made in a timely fashion. Proposals for theses starting in the Winter Study Period are due the first Friday in October of the senior year, although the planning for these should be commenced during the Junior year to lessen the risk that a specific advisor would not be available to supervise the thesis.

In general, potential advisors should be faculty members affiliated with the Environmental Studies Program, though in some cases a faculty member with no affiliation with environmental studies may be identified, in which case an environmental-studies-affiliated faculty member must be identified as a co-advisor (and they can also serve as a second reader). It is also recommended that thesis students identify one or more potential second readers. The second reader is available for additional input and guidance throughout the thesis process, and evaluates the final product along with the thesis advisor(s).

The 5-page proposal should include:
– A cover page with thesis title, student’s name, and a brief summary of the proposed work. The cover page should also specify whether the proposal is for a year-long or one-semester thesis, name of proposed advisor (and other potential advisors) and second reader, and whether the applicant is also submitting a request to CES for summer research support (this does not count as part of the 5-page limit for the proposal)
– 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 for the project.
– A discussion of the methodologies that will be employed.
– A tentative timeline.
– 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.  ENVI Committee will notify applicants of proposal acceptance before the start of the spring break. In order to spread the supervision duties out equitably, it is possible that an applicant will be matched with a thesis supervisor other than their first choice. 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. There will be a preview presentation workshop about 6 weeks after the start of your thesis, and then a public presentation of your thesis at the end of the semester in which the thesis project is finished. It is expected that the student, along with the supervisor and second reader, will hold a practice “dry run” of the presentation. The final thesis will be evaluated by the supervisor, the second reader, and then, if accepted by the majority of the ENVI Committee, awarded Honors, or in recognition of exceptional work, Highest Honors.  When submitting your thesis to Williams’ library archive, please be sure to follow the guidelines detailed here:

See link below are relevant deadlines for a thesis in environmental studies.

Honors deadline schedule

For description of honors in Environmental Studies see full catalog description:


See list of Environmental Studies theses from previous years and link to library catalog.