The capstone is designed to provide an opportunity for students to integrate many aspects of their course of study, while introducing the opportunity to conduct independent or collaborative work oriented towards the discovery of new information and, or solving environmental challenges. This requirement must be fulfilled during the student's senior year. This requirement can be met with a two-semester thesis (ENVS 1970 & ENVS 1971), one-semester research project (ENVS 1970 or ENVS 1971), or an approved capstone course. Additional description of each of these options is provided below.
Thesis - The thesis is an in-depth, original work of scholarship. This scholarship can take many forms, from basic discovery that fuels future advances, to applied problem solving that meets the challenges facing our environment, but also to engaged work that involves a reciprocal, collaborative relationship between our scholars and an organization outside Brown. The thesis is conducted during the senior year, over the course of two semesters and under the supervision of a faculty member. Typically the faculty member is a Fellow of IBES, but additional Brown faculty can also serve as a thesis advisor with permission of the student's concentration advisor. The thesis will also have a 'second reader' who can provide additional input on the direction of the work and who will help to evaluate the quality of final work produced. The second reader is often a Brown faculty member, but can also be an environmental practitioner or faculty member based outside of Brown. All students conducting a thesis are required to contribute a poster presentation of their work to be displayed at the annual research symposium (typically held in late April). Students graduating in December must submit their poster by late November. Completing a thesis is one of the requirements for graduating with honors. Additional details regarding thesis requirements and deadlines are available on the honors page. For examples of recent Theses, click here.
Independent Research – An independent research project investigates a topic, tests a hypothesis or addresses a question that can advance our understanding of natural or social systems. The project is conducted over the course of one semester under the supervision of a faculty member. Typically the faculty member is a Fellow of IBES, but additional Brown faculty can also serve as a thesis advisor with permission of the student's concentration advisor. All students conducting independent research are required to contribute a poster presentation of their work to be displayed at the annual research symposium (typically held in late April). Students graduating in December must submit their poster by late November. For examples of recent Research Projects, click here.
Approved Capstone Course – Senior seminar courses that involve integration of ideas or have a project-based focus are appropriate for fulfilling this requirement. Each year a small number of ENVS courses are preapproved to meet this requirement. In the 2016-2017 academic year these courses include ENVS 1910 (The Anthropocene), ENVS 1927 (Nature, Society and Culture) and ENVS 1925 (Energy Policy and Politics). With the permission of the student's concentration advisor and permission of a course instructor, additional courses can be approved on a case-by-case basis. Classes that do not entail a substantive final paper, will require agreement from the instructor to assign and supervise an additional integrative or project-based assignment for the student.