Making an environmental studies Plan

These are some guidelines and thoughts that we hope will be helpful to students making an environmental studies Plan.  Plans with an environmental focus may be very diverse, but they should share several essential properties:

  • The questions driving the Plan concern the interaction between the human world and the biophysical environment.  They may focus on the effects of human action on the environment or how the human condition is affected by the biophysical surroundings, but environmental questions essentially address the feedback between the human social/cultural system and the natural biophysical system.
  • Therefore, environmental Plans will always include study in humanities/social sciences on the one hand and pertinent biophysical sciences on the other; appropriate combinations of disciplinary work will vary depending on the Plan’s motivating question
  • Plans with environmental focus must build an appropriate body of sophisticated or advanced work.  This work may be in any of a range of disciplines or may synthesize work in multiple disciplines as called for by the Plan question, and may make use of FWT or other internship experiences.  A collection of coursework without focus or synthesis will not satisfy this expectation.

These three central requirements must be clearly addressed in a satisfactory environmental studies Plan essay.  Here are some further suggestions and guidelines that may help you realize them, or be pertinent for some Plans:

  • Because environmental Plans are inherently multidisciplinary, it’s particularly critical that the Plan question be carefully developed, and the Plan essay should clearly translate the question into a program of study and work.
  • The Plan essay should clearly address which disciplinary approaches will be most important in the proposed studies and explain how these tools will, together, build a sophisticated approach to the Plan question.
  • Students with environmental studies Plans should plan to enroll in the environmental studies colloquium for one or more terms.
  • Because many environmental Plans will have a fundamentally applied nature – addressing the sustainability of human endeavors – FWTs, summer work, terms away, etc. may be particularly important components of the Plan and these should be considered in the essay.
  • Appropriate advanced work may take a very wide range of forms and foci, but we reiterate that it is essential that the Plan Essay develop advanced-work plans clearly.  This may take an extremely wide range of forms, focusing primarily in a particular discipline, or involving multiple disciplinary toolboxes synthetically.


Finally, we emphasize that, while many environmental Plans will focus on issues of human well-being in an environmental context and sustainability of human endeavors, the expectations outlined above may be met in a wide range of other ways.  For example, Plans might focus on ethical or esthetic issues concerning the human effect on the non-human world, on human perceptions of and beliefs about the natural world as expressed in art or literature.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>