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 & Second Reader

Typically the faculty member serving as a student’s thesis advisor is a Core Faculty member of IBES, however additional Brown faculty (such as Elected Fellows & Affiliates or non-affiliated Professors) can also serve in this role.  Non-core faculty members must confirm with the Academic Program Manager ( that they have agreed to be the concentrator's thesis advisor.  Students pursuing honors may be asked to secure a 'second reader' (to the discretion of the advisor) who can provide additional input on the direction of the work, and will help evaluate the quality of the final product. The second reader is often a Brown faculty member, but can also be an environmental practitioner or professor based outside of Brown, who has significant expertise in the concentrator’s area of research.  For students conducting an engaged project with a community partner, their supervisor from the organization can be recognized as their ‘second reader’.

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.

2023-2024 Honors Guidelines  2023-2024 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

First week of classes – University Deadline to turn in an Independent Research Form to your thesis & concentration advisors with a cc to 

8th Semester 

  • Friday, March 24th - Complete draft due to thesis advisor and second reader
  • Friday, April 14th - Recommended deadline to defend thesis (if advisor requires a defense). 
  • Friday, April 21st - Final draft (which addresses feedback) due to thesis advisor and second reader. Format should be either a pdf or Word file.