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Environmental Program Senior Honor Awards

Three Environmental Program Honor Awards are presented each year at Honors Convocation.  Nominations are accepted from EV Faculty.

  • Outstanding Senior Academic Award in Environmental Science and Outstanding Senior Award in Environmental Policy. This award is provided to honor that student showing unusual academic excellence as well as a strong commitment to environmental science.
  • Distinguished Service Award in Environmental Program. This award is given to that senior (or sometimes junior) who has given exemplary service to the program and community and who also shows unusual promise to go on in the field.

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.

Environmental Science and Policy Thesis Rubric


Level 1

Level 2

Level 3

Level 4


no clear rationale or a weak rationale for the project 

some rationale presented, begins to motivate the work 

provides and discusses a suitable rationale 

persuasive and creative rationale 

Dealing with Complexity in Framing Topic 

frames complex questions as simple ones

invests question with some complexity, may over-simplify or over-extend 

reasonable balance between focus and complexity 

frames the topic with a full appreciation of its complexity while retaining appropriate focus 


approach not clear what was done or why, or an inappropriate method

approach is generally appropriate and properly executed 

clearly described and justified, well-chosen and appropriate, and well-executed 

creative and sophisticated methods

Scholarly Context 

author does not demonstrate awareness of the scholarly literature, may over-rely on too few sources 

author demonstrates a reasonable awareness of the literature 


author demonstrates broad awareness and situates own work within the literature 

author does these things and makes a contribution to the field, or identifies a new direction for investigation 


does not take a clear or defensible position or draw a clear conclusion 

clearly describes, or begins to support/test/extend/ critique a position that is already in the literature 

thoroughly and effectively supports, tests, extends, or critiques a position that is already in the literature

develops a clear and defensible position of his/her own, draws a significant conclusion 


weak, invalid, or no argument, perhaps a simple assertion  

some arguments valid and well supported, some not 

main arguments valid, systematic, and well supported  

arguments both well supported and genuinely compared to conflicting explanations 

Use of Data/

draws on little or no evidence, mostly relies on assertions or opinions, or evidence not clearly presented 

some appropriate use of evidence but uneven

feasible evidence appropriately selected and not over-interpreted 

fully exploits the richness of the data and/or evidence/ideas, and is sufficiently persuasive 

Insight, Seeing Patterns and Connections 

treats related ideas or data as unrelated, or draws weak or simplistic connections 

begins to establish connections and perceive implications of the material

brings together related data or ideas in productive ways, thoroughly discusses implications of material 

develops insightful connections and patterns that require intellectual creativity 

Usage, Grammar and Spelling 

significantly impairs readability 

frequent or serious errors

some minor errors 

virtually no errors 


needs significant reorganization  

structure is of inconsistent quality, may have choppy transitions and/or redundancies or disconnections 

structure supports the argument, clearly ordered sections fit together well

structure enhances the argument, strong sections and seamless flow 

Clarity, Style, 
Readability (as appropriate to disciplines)  

gets in the way of reading for content 

beginning to be comfortable with appropriate conventions, style is inconsistent or uneven 

effective prose style, follows relevant scholarly conventions, emergence of voice 

mastery of the genre, including elegant style, established voice  

Senior Thesis Guidelines

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).

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 senior seminars. 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 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 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 last day of Block 7, 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 academic assistant. By signing, the thesis advisors have judged that the written thesis meets the standards of quality as set forth by the Environmental Program faculty. 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 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. 

You must submit your thesis to the library through DigitalCC, as well as deliver an original printed copy to the Environmental Program. 

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 copy of your thesis should be placed in a manila folder to protect it during processing. Every thesis must also have a Thesis Bindery Information Form attached to it, available at the Tutt Library or from the EV staff assistant.