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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 different departments.

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:

    The completed 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 semester.
  • Proposal:

      The proposal should include the following sections:
    1. 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.)
    2. A list of the courses you have taken, are taking, and plan to take as part of this track.
    3. A copy of your most recent transcript.
    4. Letter of support from your advisor
    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 own records.

    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.