Track VI: Self-Designed with Advisor
The goal of the Self-Designed Track is to provide students with an
interdisciplinary co-major that will enable them to select five courses beyond
the core curriculum that focus on a specific issue (such as, Water Policy and
Management; Ocean Conservation; Energy; Environmental Justice).
A Self-Designed Track requires a high degree of both independent
initiative and self-discipline from the student.
While completing the track students will learn to (1) evaluate scientific,
social and cultural information carefully and critically, and (2) communicate
messages that are scientifically sound and effective in reaching multiple
audiences. The Self-Directed Track
is a serious undertaking for the student who is committed to blending
disciplines in a way that is demonstrably relevant to an identifiable area of
intellectual inquiry in Environmental Studies.
In addition to completing the Core Curriculum,
the student is required to design a series of courses with one introductory
course that covers the topic of their plan of study; one research/methods
course, plus three additional elective courses from the natural sciences, social
sciences, arts and humanities or media practice that thoroughly cover key areas
within their focus (ex. water policy and management).
At least one of the three courses must be an advanced seminar or
research-intensive experience, and the courses should represent at least two
Note: Students must have a minimum GPA of 3.5.
Procedure for Applying for a Self-Designed Track
Students petitioning for the Self-Designed track (Track IV) must complete the
checklist, meet an advisor and submit an application (described below). To
complete the checklist, students must consult the course offerings
and determine when each course will be taken.
Students will then meet with an appropriate advisor to refine the plan of
study. Only then can students can then submit a completed application
to the ENVS program.
The application procedure will require you to have an academic advisor
who will support your application. This advisor should have direct expertise
in the topic you have chosen. If this person is not currently an academic
advisor with the Environmental Studies
Program, you should contact the Director so that s/he can meet with this
individual ahead of time to discuss the program and what will be required of
them as an advisor. Your advisor must either be a designated Advisor in the
Environmental Studies Program or be a full-time member of the Arts and Sciences
or Engineering faculty with the rank of lecturer or above. Advisors from outside
of the Tufts community are generally not allowed.
- When and Where to Apply:
Environmental Studies major application must be submitted during
the spring semester of the sophomore year (see deadlines below) to the
Environmental Studies Program, attn: Sara Gomez (Program Administrator) in person,
or digitally to environmentalstudies (@tufts.edu).
Remember that the application approval process requires some time, so you should
plan accordingly. It would be best to submit the proposal early in your fourth
The proposal should include the following sections:
You will find it useful to consult your advisor several times while drawing up
your proposal. Writing professionals at the Academic Resource Center and the
members of the ENVS Executive Committee can also help you refine, clarify, and
polish your proposal. We suggest that you keep a copy of your proposal for your
- An overall description of your Environmental Studies Major. This should include
a preliminary title for your major, a rationale for why it is an inherently
interdisciplinary course of study, a description of the main problem or problems
that you propose to address through your course of study and why they are
significant problems to address. (Remember that "problem" doesn't necessarily
mean a social problem, and that "significance" may be defined in many ways,
including but not limited to: theoretical or methodological significance,
topicality, or social, scientific, political, cultural, economic ramifications
and so forth.)
- A list of the courses you have taken, are taking, and plan to take as
part of this track.
- A copy of your most recent transcript.
- Letter of support from your advisor
After your application
has been completed, send it via email attachment in
Microsoft Word to ENVS at environmentalstudies (@tufts.edu). A faculty subcommittee
will review your application, possibly suggest changes, and ultimately approve
or reject your proposal. The committee will contact you and arrange a time to
meet with you to discuss your proposal, if needed. If changes are suggested,
more than one such meeting may be required.
- Time-Line (for Sophomores):
- By March 15th:
Send a brief email message
to Sara Gomez, Program Administrator for ENVS, sara.gomez(@tufts.edu), to inform them of
your intent to submit a proposal for the Environmental Studies
Track V: Self-Designed Track.
- March 25th:
Deadline for your full proposal, including all letters of
support and transcript. Send all materials to the ENVS
Program Coordinator by email. Letters of support should be
emailed by the faculty member directly to the Program Coordinator.
- April 1st:
Students will be notified if their proposal requires
additional revisions to the curriculum proposal are required.
- Early April:
The ENVS Executive Committee will make its decision
on each proposal that has satisfied the major.
Role of the Faculty Advisors
Members of the faculty who agree to serve as advisors for an Environmental
Studies Self-Designed Track should realize that it will involve significant time
both in the initial planning with the student and in continuing to advise him or
her once the track has been approved. Thus, the following suggestions are made
to all potential advisors:
- The advisor should take the time to know both the student and his or her
program. No student proposals will be considered by the committee that do not
carry a substantive written statement of support from the advisor.
- Thus, the advisor must meet with the student to evaluate both the objectives of
the student's program and the courses to achieve those objectives before the
proposed plan is submitted to the committee for approval.
- The advisor should meet with the student at least once a semester (unless the
student is away from campus) to ensure that progress is being made. Progress
toward the stated objective should be evaluated and alterations in the
originally suggested curriculum made as necessary (e.g, course is no longer
offered). Responsibility for arranging these meetings should be shared by the
student and advisor.
- Faculty members who are going on temporary or permanent leave should not act as
advisor. If unforeseen circumstances arise that make it necessary for an advisor
to leave Tufts, it is his or her responsibility to arrange a suitable temporary
or permanent substitute. They should present this substitute to the ENVS program
as soon as possible.