Institute at Brown for Environment and SocietyIBES

Engaged Scholarship

A hallmark of scholarship at Brown and within IBES is the integration of research and teaching. This scholarship takes 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. Each type of scholarship: basic, applied and engaged are important and essential for IBES to meet its goals.

IBES students, staff and faculty are involved in a wide variety of engaged scholarship activities, at a local, national and international level. Indeed, engaged scholarship is an integral component of many of the projects IBES conducts. In environmental health, IBES works with the RI Department of Health to investigate how best to increase the state's adaptive capacity to deal with heat waves associated with climate change and how to reduce children's exposure to cancer-linked pollutants, which are a legacy of our state's industrial history.  In the field of conservation, IBES works with The Nature Conservancy, the US Department of Fish and Game, and other organizations that aim to conserve or restore our state, nation and world's biological heritage. In environmental governance, IBES works with United Nations delegations from many individual countries to develop a framework that can equitably fund adaptation approaches needed in response to climate change. These and many other IBES project are described on our research pages.

Students at Brown have the opportunity to become essential contributors to engaged scholarship through IBES courses, research and internship opportunities, and our engaged scholars program.

Students can enroll in IBES-sponsored courses that have an engaged scholarship goal. These courses include ENVS 0110 (Humans, Nature and the Environment), which emphasizes small-group projects in partnership with local organizations, ENVS 1555 (Urban Agriculture: The Importance of Localized Food Systems), which involves planning and developing local urban agriculture projects, and ENVS 1574 (Engaged Climate Policy in the U.S.), which after several weeks of readings and lectures on climate policy, the course shifts to team-based research to produce strategic, policy-relevant briefings and scholarly outputs with partner organizations in Rhode Island, Washington, and internationally.. Learn more about this work, which is made possible under the umbrella of IBES's Climate and Development Lab, here

Students can participate in IBES sponsored and funded summer research and internship opportunities, as well as independent study projects throughout the academic year. IBES partners with local organizations (such as the Nature Conservancy and the City of Providence) to fund summer internships that involve engaged scholarship. IBES also funds research experiences with professors conducting engaged scholarship, such as the development of integrative strategies and approaches for reforestation in Brazil. IBES supports students at Brown across academic concentrations with the Voss Fellows Program, which pairs rising seniors with Brown faculty to conduct independent research. These projects often have a strong engaged component and have included partnerships with numerous local, national and international organizations. A full listing of IBES funding opportunities for students is available on our funding page. Examples of recent senior theses and practicum are available on our education page.

The IBES Engaged Scholars Program is available for students who want to maximize their foundation, experience and commitment to this form of scholarship. This carefully structured program aims to introduce students to engaged scholarship through coursework, develop practical experience conducting this type of work through internships, and launch students into engaged problem-solving work through collaborative study opportunities as seniors. The full details of the IBES Engaged Scholarship Program is available below.

IBES Engaged Scholars Program

The Engaged Scholars Program supports students, faculty, and community partners seeking to integrate teaching, research, and practice to advance scholarship and benefit the world beyond Brown. Engaged scholarship is defined as a purposeful integration of teaching, research, and practice with the goal of advancing scholarship and producing a public benefit. Engaged courses address an identifiable need in a significant and sustainable way and demonstrate rigorous scholarship and innovation in the relevant discipline(s).

Program Components

  • An approved introductory course in engaged research and education, which may be offered through ENVS or another program on campus.
    • ENVS 0110: Humans, Nature, and the Environment ("Core" requirement for all ENVS concentrators)
    • OR

    • An approved introductory engaged course in another department
  • Two intermediate or upper-level courses that incorporate components of engagement. At least ONE course must be designated ENVS (can also be used for concentration requirements). Potential courses include:
    • ENVS 1580: Environmental Stewardship and Resilience in Urban Systems
    • ENVS 1555: Urban Agriculture
    • ENVS 1400: Sustainable Design in the Built Environment
    • ENVS 1574: Engaged Climate Policy in the U.S. (by application only)
    • Or an approved intermediate or upper-level engaged course in another department.
  • Students must enroll in required ESP interdisciplinary course (Theory and Practice of Engaged Scholarship) and participate in an interdisciplinary community of undergraduate scholars that meets regularly for workshops, lectures, and other programming. See ESP website for more information.
  • A 150-250 hour ESP practicum (overseen by the Engaged Scholar Program), defined by significant experiential work with community partners and non-academic stakeholders and completed as a volunteer, a paid internship (paid by the partner organization or via Brown funding such as a LINK award), or through an ESP-approved internship course. See ESP website for more information.
  • A senior capstone (overseen by an ENVS Advisor) that will take the form of a one semester practicum* (ENVS 1970) or year long thesis (ENVS 1970 and 1971).  This will also fulfill the ENVS senior capstone requirement.

* Note this is in addition to the ESP practicum (if you choose a practicum as your senior capstone).


Students apply to ESP when declaring their concentration in ASK, typically in second semester of sophomore year. ESP is selective and applications will be reviewed by departments and ESP staff in mid-April of the application year. See the ESP website for more information.


Kurt Teichert, Senior Lecturer in Environmental and Society
Dawn King, Lecturer in Environment and Society

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