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Senior Thesis and Graduation with Distinction in the Environmental Program

The Environmental Program faculty recognize the educational benefits for any student of doing original research and presenting it in writing and orally. A senior EV major who (1) completes a high quality senior thesis; (3) presents it orally at the Environmental Program EV Day or in fall seminars; and (3) and has a high grade point average will receive Graduation With Distinction. All three requirements must be met for distinction. This honor will be recorded on the student’s official transcript and noted on the commencement program at graduation. If a student meets the senior thesis and presentation requirements but does not have a high enough grade point average, the successful completion of the senior thesis requirements will be included on the student’s transcript under EV 499 Senior Thesis.

Senior Thesis

The option of undertaking a senior thesis must be initiated by the student and approved by an EV Program faculty member (primary research advisor), who will supervise the student's research and senior thesis. If the research is performed at another institute under direction of an off-campus advisor, the student must still have an on-campus advisor and reader. In addition, another faculty member (who may be in another CC department if the area of research falls under the other faculty member's area of expertise) must agree to act as a secondary advisor. Faculty members may decline to be thesis advisors because of other commitments. The primary and secondary research advisors comprise the thesis committee. The thesis committee will establish the format and requirements of the research and thesis, read and suggest revisions in the thesis, and can recommend whether the thesis is of sufficient quality to qualify for Graduation With Distinction.

Ideally, the decision to write a senior thesis should be made in the fall of the junior year, so that the spring may be devoted to a survey of the literature and planning for the research. The research itself should begin by the following summer. Work on the writing of the research must begin by the fall of the senior year. The senior thesis is based on original research done by the student. A literature review, although a necessary part of a senior thesis, is not in itself considered to be a thesis.

To best complete your senior research project, you must (1) develop a comprehensive research proposal to be submitted to your faculty advisor and project mentor; (2) complete the data collection and analysis well in advance of your final thesis block; and (3) present your completed research to the entire department (EV490).

Off-Campus Research  

Students wishing to study abroad must follow the CC study abroad guidelines. Students need to obtain the signature of their EV advisor and the EV Director as part of the study abroad application process. There are no upfront guarantees for EV credit prior to the start of the study abroad program. All majors must petition the EV faculty for any credit upon completion of the program. Students are encouraged to attend CC approved programs for environmentally related coursework.

Off-campus research projects completed in such programs as the Woods Hole Ecosystems Center, the ACM Tropical Field Research Program in Costa Rica, a Hughes Undergraduate Research Program (HURP) grant-supported research at another institution, or other approved research experience at a laboratory or field station may be used for the research on which a senior thesis is based. Students should be aware, however, that sometimes research supervision in these programs is inadequate and they could end their off-campus program without having obtained suitable data for a senior thesis. Students must submit their research prospectus to their research advisor prior to off-campus research experience. When the student returns to CC after finishing the off-campus research, the primary thesis advisor will judge whether the results of the student’s off-campus research project is worthy of a senior thesis. Students are additionally cautioned that the actual writing of the senior thesis based on off-campus research must be done by working closely with the CC EV Program faculty member who has agreed to be the student’s primary research advisor. In this case the primary thesis advisor supervises the data analysis and writing of the thesis, rather than supervising the actual research.

Registration for Senior Thesis

Following the proposal submission in Block 8, students must arrange for a thesis committee consisting of a primary research advisor (must be an Environmental Science Program faculty member) and a secondary advisor (may be in another academic department). An oral presentation advisor, normally the primary research advisor, is also necessary. The Thesis Committee must be chosen no later than Block 1 of the Senior Year.

By the end of Block 2, seniors completing a senior thesis should be registered for EV 499 (Senior Thesis) through the Registrar’s Office. Enrolling in EV 499 and completing the Environmental Program’s requirements will provide an official transcript record of the senior thesis. Note that EV 499 can be completed as a regular block course or as an extended format course. Students may enroll in one extended format course per semester for a half unit at no extra tuition cost. The instructor for EV 499 should be the primary thesis advisor.

Oral Presentation of Thesis

In addition to the written senior thesis, a student must make a high quality oral presentation of the thesis research and results. This presentation will be during Environmental Program EV Day or fall senior seminars (see below). The presentation is prepared under the supervision of at least one EV faculty member who is also part of the thesis committee. Normally the oral presentation advisor is also the primary research advisor for the senior thesis, unless circumstances dictate otherwise. The student's oral presentation advisor will help the student fit the presentation into the time available for the seminars, make suggestions about organization and the preparation of slides, and help set the level of the talk appropriate for the CC audience. The talk must be a well-planned, rehearsed, understandable, and professional presentation of scholarly work. Students who do off-campus research as a basis for their senior thesis are cautioned that they must work closely with their CC presentation advisor to prepare their talk, even if they have orally presented the results previously as part of their off-campus research experience. This will help ensure the presentation meets the EV Program’s standards of quality.

At the EV senior seminars, the EV faculty will evaluate the presentation (see the sample evaluation form, Appendix II) and will give the completed forms to the student's oral presentation advisor, who will discuss the evaluations with the student. After discussing the evaluations with the student, the advisor will report the results of the evaluation forms to the whole EV faculty for purposes of evaluation for distinction.

The student must inform the EV Program Coordinator (Sharon Neely) of his or her intention to give an oral presentation at the EV student seminars and must submit an abstract on the presentation in advance. The Program Coordinator will attempt to send instructions for the abstract via campus mail or e-mail to all those students who have submitted a form declaring their intention to write a senior thesis (see section on Registration for Senior Thesis); however, it is the student’s responsibility to check his/her Worner box and e-mail regularly and make certain that his/her abstract is submitted in a timely manner.

Turning in the Final Copy of the Senior Thesis

By the first Friday of Block 8, Senior year, a final, clean, and professional-looking original of the thesis, signed by the thesis committee (on a title page as shown in Appendix I of this handbook) must be turned in to the EV staff assistant. By signing, the thesis advisors have judged that the written thesis meets the standards of quality as set forth by the Environmental Science Program faculty. The copy will be kept on file by the EV Program and should be presented in a folder with a typed label (title, student's name). It is customary to give each advisor a copy of the thesis.

The thesis format must comply with the guidelines established by the Tutt Library and the Environmental Science Program. The latest library guidelines can be viewed at:
Here the key issues are reviewed, but you should double-check these guidelines prior to writing your thesis.

Theses should be double-spaced on 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper. The margins should be: 1 inch at top, bottom, and right side, and 1-1/2 inches on the left side for binding purposes. The font size should be 12 pt. Times New Roman. Citations should be written out in full rather than enumerated (e.g., Jones, 1998), and the bibliography should follow the Harvard scientific style format.

The library should receive the original printed copy of the thesis (no photocopies) printed on ACID-FREE PAPER. Students should put acid-free paper in a laser printer to print a copy of the thesis for the library. Acid-free paper is available at the CC Bookstore.

Each thesis must have a title page stating author, title, department, and graduation date (see Appendix I for a sample). Lengthy titles will be printed up to the colon or the first 65 characters (the maximum number of characters allowed by the bindery).

Each thesis should be placed in a manila folder to protect it during processing, one thesis per folder. Every thesis must also have a Thesis Bindery Information Form attached to it, available at the Tutt Library or from the EV staff assistant. Bindery shipments are sent out around the middle of the month and will be returned the middle of the following month. Shipping deadlines from early April to late August are given on the Tutt Library web site.