Choosing and Working with your Advisor

From the Environmental Studies Senior Handbook:

Choosing Your Advisor

You are required to choose your advisor before your statement of intention is due in September of your senior year. When possible, the Environmental Studies Program strongly encourages you to pick out an advisor by the middle of 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 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 affiliated with the Environmental Studies Program. 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.

You need to find your senior essay advisor. The Environmental Studies Program 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. Enrolling in a seminar with a possible advisor is one way to establish a relationship with a potential faculty mentor. Students interested in pursuing a science‐based essay are encouraged to seek opportunities for supervised research within a faculty research laboratory.

The Environmental Studies Program maintains a spreadsheet on the EVST website that lists many faculty with environmental interests across the university. Review this spreadsheet 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 them 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 in 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 them, and discuss the best way for you to receive substantive feedback on 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. You also should consult regularly with the faculty leading EVST’s senior colloquium.