ENVR E-496: Crafting the Thesis Proposal in Sustainability


  • Professor: Mark Leighton
  • Term: Winter
  • Days: M, T, W, Th
  • Time: 3:00-6:00PM
  • School: Harvard Extension School
  • Course ID: 25105

This course helps students develop critical thinking, scholarly writing skills, and research abilities while developing their individual thesis proposals. Class meetings feature lectures and discussions on different scientific approaches, group discussions, and intensive, constructive discussion of proposed student thesis research projects and proposals, from definition of research goals and hypotheses through research design and expected data analysis and presentation. The option to develop a thesis proposal early in the degree program allows students opportunities for an extended period of data collection and analysis, required for many types of significant research problems in the field, and earlier identification of relevant courses while completing degree requirements. Students should not register for this course unless they are ready to engage in the entire thesis process. They should consider if this is the right time to start independent research, as the goal of the course is to move from crafting the thesis proposal to thesis registration with no extended breaks. Students should begin the thesis project during the next semester or two after completing this course.

Prerequisite: Students must be candidates in the Master of Liberal Arts, sustainability. Students in the 12-course thesis track must have completed eight courses toward the degree and earned a B– or higher in ENVR E-495. Students in the ten-course thesis track must have completed six courses toward the degree and ENVR E-495 is recommended. Students should review the webinar to prepare them for taking the course. Their pre-proposal, due October 1, must be approved by their research advisor before they are allowed to register for the course. To obtain approval, students follow the instructions on the thesis pre-proposal form, work with their assigned research advisor to complete the form, and submit it to thesis_proposals@extension.harvard.edu. Pre-proposals generally require one or more revisions. Once approved, permission to register will be sent via email from the ALM Advising Office between October 15 and December 13.