Institute at Brown for Environment and Society

Undergraduate Honors

Students interested in graduating with honors in the concentrations of Environmental Studies or Environmental Science must complete a thesis determined to be of the highest quality and must have excelled in their coursework required for the concentration.

Coursework excellence is defined here as receiving a grade of "A" in the majority of courses taken to fulfill the concentration.

Honors 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.

Thesis 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.

Thesis Timeline

Students interested in conducting a thesis should identify and confirm the interest of a Brown faculty member before the end of their 6th semester. Students will enroll for credit in independent study with that faculty member in their 7th and 8th semesters at Brown. The thesis will be evaluated by the faculty member and second reader, who will submit a recommendation to the ENVS thesis advisory committee; this advisory committee will make a determination of whether the work conducted is of sufficient quality to warrant 'honors' within the concentration.

Poster Presentation

All students conducting a thesis are required to contribute a poster presentation of their work to be displayed at the annual research symposium (held during spring reading period). Students graduating in December must submit their poster by late November. Students are also required, at the discretion of their thesis advisor, to conduct an oral presentation of their thesis work.

2021-22 Honors Guidelines  2021-22 Independent Research Proposal Form


6th Semester

Secure a thesis advisor and submit an outline of the proposed work to your advisor before the end of the semester.

7th Semester

Turn in a thesis proposal before the end of shopping period.

8th Semester 

  • Friday, March 25th - Complete draft due to thesis advisor and second reader
  • Friday, April 15th - Recommended deadline to defend thesis (if advisor requires a defense). 
  • Friday, April 12th - Final draft (which addresses feedback) due to thesis advisor and second reader. Format should be either a pdf or Word file.