Environmental Studies students are expected to work closely with Yale faculty from various departments. Faculty advisors share responsibility with the DUS for advising students on their course selection, graduation requirements, and most importantly on their senior essay project. The faculty advisor is also a valuable mentor to students after their education at Yale, providing career advice, and writing recommendations for students. You can find a list of the EVST Faculty Advisory Committee members here, and our full list of affiliated faculty here.
Senior Essay Advising
Choosing Your Advisor
You are required to choose your advisor before submitting your senior essay title form in October. October of senior year is way too late for finding an advisor. Yale College Environmental Studies strongly encourages you to recruit the essay advisor during your junior year. Having an advisor in place at an early stage will give you the opportunity to work with your advisor to finalize courses that you are taking as part of your concentration and to receive guidance (and if necessary, seek funding) for a summer research project. For many research projects conducted outside of a campus laboratory or the Yale library, the summer before the senior year is a critical time for gathering data.
Your advisor does not need to be formally affiliated with Yale College Environmental Studies. Your advisor must be a member of the Yale Faculty, however, and needs to agree to supervise your essay and to provide you with guidance and feedback along the way. If you are having difficulty finding a senior essay advisor, please speak with the EVST Director of Undergraduate Studies, preferably during the spring term of your junior year.
You must find your own senior essay advisor. Environmental Studies does not have its own faculty and instead relies on faculty volunteers from departments and programs across the university. You are encouraged to begin identifying a senior essay advisor during your junior year, or, as soon as possible, if you are a rising senior. Enrolling in a seminar with a possible advisor is one way to establish a potentially productive advising relationship. Students interested in pursuing a science-based essay are encouraged to seek opportunities for supervised research within a faculty research laboratory.
Review the list of Yale College Environmental Studies Affiliated Faculty and identify several whose interests may overlap with yours. Visit their websites and consult their publications and course descriptions. If you think your interests may overlap, schedule a meeting to talk with the faculty member about your potential project ideas, and to hear their suggestions for possible senior essay projects.
You do not need to have a fully formed senior essay topic when you meet with a prospective advisor. You also are encouraged to meet with more than one possible advisor to identify the best fit.
Working Effectively With Your Advisor
Once you have identified your advisor, you are responsible for communicating with her or him and for jointly working to establish an effective advisor-advisee relationship. Many advisors respond to advisee requests for meetings and comments, rather than imposing a regular structure. Few faculty advisors will seek you out to check on your progress. You are responsible for initiating and maintaining regular contact with your advisor. As you establish your relationship with your advisor, try to get a clear understanding of your advisor’s approach and expectations, and be straightforward about your expectations. Since your advisor may not be familiar with the EVST senior essay, review this handbook and its assignments and deadlines with your advisor, and discuss the best way for you to receive substantive feedback on your progress. Make sure to share work that you are completing in the senior colloquium and meet with your primary advisor to discuss your progress.
Remember that EVST faculty advisors typically supervise your senior essay work above-and-beyond their regular academic commitments. Present yourself and your work in the most professional manner possible by communicating clearly and regularly, meeting deadlines, and taking responsibility for your progress on your senior essay.
Faculty leading EVST’s senior colloquium are an additional resource committed to helping you develop a productive relationship with your primary advisor and to the successful completion of your essay. You should consult with them frequently and especially when their additional perspective or alternate resources might be helpful.