General Information

Environmental Studies majors with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.70 at the end of the January term of the junior year or with special department approval are eligible to participate in the Environmental Studies Honors Research Program.

The ES Honors Program will include successful completion of an independent research project, an oral presentation at the Colby Undergraduate Research Symposium, an oral thesis defense, and all required course work for the ES major. The student fulfilling these requirements will graduate “With Honors in Environmental Studies.”


ES Honors Procedure

Interested students should contact an ES faculty sponsor during their junior year to discuss possible honors projects. If the faculty member approves a proposed project, the student will register for ES 483 (Honors Project) for the fall semester of their senior year.

During the fall, students must write a thesis proposal, have it approved by ES faculty, and make progress on their research.  If successful, students can continue their honors research during Jan Plan in ES 483 (Honors Project) and during the spring semester in ES 484 (Honors Project).  A maximum of eight credits for honors research is allowed for the entire year.

Students enrolled in Environmental Studies 493 or ES 494 may petition the department to expand their independent capstone research projects into an honors project to be conducted in January and the spring semester.


Important Deadlines

Fall Semester of Senior Year

Course Add Deadline
Students must register for ES 483 by the last day to add courses. Proposals are approved by the Department Chair.  Students must have a draft title, draft topic, and have identified their faculty sponsor and at least one thesis reader.

Last Friday September
Candidates must submit a formal thesis proposal to their faculty sponsor by the last Friday in September.  This proposal, approximately four pages, should identify the specific research question to be addressed, the evidence on which the analysis will be based and the complete research design explaining how this evidence will be used to address the identified question.

Second Friday in October 
If requested, students should submit a revised proposal and outline to their advisor.  The revised proposal should include a title page, draft table of contents and working references list, formatted per the Environmental Studies Department Style Guide.

October 25th (Last Wednesday in October)
Oral proposal defense (5-10 min). The proposal defense should include the candidates’ thesis title, review of literature, research question, and methods, and a proposed timeline for research and writing activities. This will be an opportunity to receive oral feedback from peers and faculty mentors. Within one week of the oral defense the candidate will receive written feedback (including feedback on content, formatting and timeline) from the Committee.

Last Day of Fall Classes
Students should submit to their faculty sponsor and reader by the last day of fall classes a summary of the work completed so far. This will typically include a preliminary literature review, a detailed formal research design with proposed deadlines that describes the specific remaining work to be accomplished during January and spring semester, and a working bibliography. The decision whether or not the student will be approved to convert their independent study or capstone project to an honors project in January and the spring semester will be made by the committee and the Department Chair before end of final exam period.

Spring Semester of Senior Year

Early February
In consultation with the faculty sponsor, students should select a third person for the thesis defense committee.

Early April
First complete draft is due to the faculty sponsor and the reader on the Friday before spring break.

Colby Liberal Arts Symposium:
The honors candidate will give an oral presentation at CLAS (typically 25 minutes). This will serve as part of the oral thesis defense, and all committee members should be present.

Early May:
The oral thesis defense will be held before the end of the second week of May.  Students will be asked to give a 10-minute summary of their thesis work and to answer questions from the thesis committee.  The faculty sponsor, the reader, and the outside reviewer will participate.  At the end of the defense, the faculty sponsor will review with the student the committee decision and any changes to the thesis mandated by the committee.  Once the student completes thesis revisions, the faculty sponsor and student will review final formatting.

Before the End of the Finals Period:
Students must submit four copies of their honors thesis in proper format on standard thesis paper
(see Preparation of Thesis Copies below).


Preparation of Thesis Copies

Once you have passed your oral thesis defense and completed all required revisions of your thesis, you must prepare you thesis for printing and archiving.  Thesis formatting guidelines are very important.  Please review with our faculty advisor.  Before the end of the final exam period, students must submit four copies of their honors thesis in proper format on standard thesis paper.

  • Use standard thesis paper of at least 25% rag content (not regular printer paper). The ES Department will provide the paper.
  • Mirrored margins with 1-1/2″ on the inside and 1″ on the top, bottom and outside of the page is required.
  • Use Times New Roman  font at 12 point for all text, headings, and subheadings.
  • Use 1.5 line  spacing your text, but table text can be single spaced. Also single space any footnotes and the literature cited section.
  • The first level of headings should be in bold and caps. If you use subheadings, the second level of subheadings should be in bold but lower case (except for the first letter of each word excluding articles and prepositions), and the third level not bold but in italics, and the third level not bold but in italics (the first letter of each word excluding articles and prepositions should be capitalized).
  • All headings should be left justified.
  • The indent at the beginning of paragraphs should be the equivalent of five spaces.
  • Use hanging indents for references (i.e., indent the second and subsequent lines of each reference listed in the literature cited section by two spaces.  Students using Endnote should select the Ecology Endnote style.  Single space each reference and add a blank line between each reference.  Students should consult with their thesis advisor about proper format for citations.  Policy students may choose to follow the guidelines in the document “Literature_Cited POLICY guidelines” and science students may choose to follow the guidelines in the document “Literature_Cited SCIENCE guidelines” available on the Google Drive in the folder labeled “ES Honors Thesis Guidelines.”
  • Figures and tables should follow the format outlined in the “Figures Table style guide” document available on the Google Drive in the folder labeled “ES Honors Thesis Guidelines.”
  • Complete the Title Page.  A title page template is available on the Google Drive in the folder labeled “ES Honors Thesis Guidelines.”
  • On the back of the Title Page, include a centered Copyright Statement: “Copyright © YEAR by the Environmental Studies Department, Colby College. All rights reserved.”
  • The order of the thesis section is: Title Page, Abstract, Acknowledgements, Table of Contents, [body of thesis], Personal Communications, Literature Cited, and Appendices.  The heading for each of these sections should be in bold, all caps, and left justified.  A blank row should be placed below each section heading.
  • The Title Page should be followed by an Abstract and an Acknowledgements section, both of which should be printed on separate pages with nothing on the reverse side.
  • Page numbering (except for the first page) should be centered at the bottom of the page.
  • For the Abstract, Acknowledgements and Table of Contents, number using i. ii, iii, etc. For assistance with page numbering, please click here.
  • The Table of Contents can be auto-generated in Microsoft Word. Table of Contents should: be single spaced, have numbers right justified, dots connecting text and numbers, indents for subheadings, and no bold headings.
  • Print your thesis double sided.
  • Collect the signature of each of the three committee members on the Title Page.

Delivery of Thesis Materials for Archiving

Submit four original copies of the honors thesis to Leslie Lima (Diamond 110) for archiving in the ES Department and for the student and faculty sponsor. The ES Department will arrange for thesis copies to be bound, and a bound copy will be sent to the student.  Also, upload your thesis in two forms, as a Word document and as a pdf, to the folder on the Google Drive labeled “ES Honors Thesis Submission,” which will be shared with you.

Honors Theses are also deposited and maintained in Digital Commons @ Colby, the libraries’ archives of select scholarly and creative works as well as the college’s special collections and archives.

Collection Links:

How to Upload Your Thesis to Digital Commons @ Colby

Please prepare the following in advance:

  • Descriptive information: you will be asked to provide an abstract as well as search keywords and basic description of your project (title, department, disciplines, etc.).
  • Access level: you will be asked to choose from the following access levels:
    • Open access
    • Colby-only access
    • Embargo period (unavailable for one or two years, then open access)
  • Advisor approval: the libraries assume that you have discussed and agreed on access options with your advisor prior to submission.
  • Electronic file of your thesis or Senior Scholars project, along with any supporting files (data, illustrations, etc.) that you wish to include.
    • File format: PDF is recommended but not required.  Other document formats (such as Word) will be auto-converted to PDF.  This process occasionally produces errors in the formatting of tables, graphs, or charts.
    • Versions: If your paper is not completely finished at the time of initial submission you have the option to upload a revision prior to final publishing.

Step-by Step Instructions:

  1.  Create a Digital Commons account: (You can use either your Colby or a personal email address.  If you use a long-term personal email address you will continue to receive author download reports beyond the expiration of you Colby email account.)
  2.   After your account is activated, go to the Submit Research page:  Select Honors Theses.
  3.   Follow the on-screen instructions to submit your paper.
  4. Your rights, responsibilities and permissions as an author will be conveyed via the Digital Commons @ Colby submission agreement:

After you have made your submission, your advisor will be notified and asked to sign off by way of a brief email reply.  Once your advisor’s approval has been received, library staff will complete the process and you will be notified by email.

The Colby College Libraries acknowledge that the intellectual rights for each Honors Thesis remain with the author.  However, the act of depositing these materials with the Colby College Libraries indicates a willingness by the author to share her/his work with the Colby community and with the general public.

If you have any questions, please contact:

Martin Kelly, Digital Collections Librarian: [email protected]

Kara Kugelmeyer, Assistant Director of Research and Instruction; Data and Science Librarian: [email protected]