Community & Visitors Parents & Families Future Students Current Students Alumni & Friends Faculty & Staff
Environmental Sciences and Studies
ENVS header photo

Portfolio Instructions

(Spring 2014 version)

Overview: When taking their capstone class, ENVS 520, students will compile a portfolio of their best academic work.  Students should be aware of this requirement and prepare accordingly. 

The portfolio highlights accomplishments and experiences in the Environmental Studies/Science major.  As a reflection tool, it prepares students for environmental careers and advanced study.  As an assessment device, it enables data-driven improvements in advising, curriculum design, and instruction.

The portfolio should represent your best work.  Writing should be clear and concise, with well-constructed sentences and good writing mechanics.  Select for quality, not quantity.  YOU MUST COMPLETE A SATISFACTORY PORTFOLIO BEFORE YOU RECEIVE A GRADE IN ENVS 520.  (The portfolio is assessed S/U).

Collect materials demonstrating your BEST work in each of the following areas. Ideally, use no piece of work twice. Consider documents from class projects, homework assignments, lab reports, independent research projects, volunteer work, internships, etc. For coursework materials, select only from courses fulfilling ENST/ ENSC requirements (i.e., not general education or courses from other major/minor courses). Submit clean copies with no markings or grades.  Consult Dr. Bollinger if you have questions.

Key Sections:  Please provide documents demonstrating your ability/achievements in the following areas:  

  1. Critical thinking:  Analyze an environmental problem and propose possible solutions to the same problem, demonstrating critical thinking, problem solving, and/or skeptical inquiry. At least one example. 
  2. Diverse viewpoints:  In making decisions and proposing actions to address an environmental issue, demonstrate two skills:  (a) Recognizing a diversity of viewpoints (e.g., different stakeholders, academic disciplines, regulatory domains, policy objectives, etc.). Explicitly recognize and describe divergent viewpoints, comparing/contrasting underlying assumption, interests, and objectives.  Drwa well-reasoned conclusions about the validity/value of these different viewpoints and how they should in teh end be balanced, reconciled, or resolved. (b) Practice ethical reasoning by considering the impact on a variety of stakeholders and systems (e.g., whether those with power listen to those without, whether negative effects are disproportionally borne by minority communities, whether actors take responsibility for unintended consequences, whether actions come at the expense of future generations, etc). Select at least one example for objective (a) and one example for objective (b). Ensure that one of these comes from an upper level ENVS course (495, 510, 520).
  3. Interdisciplinary thinking:  Demonstrate understanding of the interconnected, interdisciplinary nature of environmental studies.  Given a specific issue, specify the different dimensions, apply appropriate disciplinary knowledge/methods to those dimensions, and integrate across disciplines as needed to fully address the complexity of the issue.  At least one example that includes multiple disciplinary perspectives.  
  4. Addressing Problems:  Identify and explain major sources of environmental problems and their solutions.  At least one example.
  5. Scientific thinking (ENSC only):  Understand and apply the scientific process. Include your BIOL 300 final paper and at least one example from another upper-level science course.
  6. Experiential learningSubmit evidence of meaningful, sustained, environmental learning activities, if you have it..    These might include reflective statements, summaries, or journals prepared during or at the end of an internship; evidence of and reflection upon appropriate volunteer activities; evidence of or reflections upon appropriate jobs, appropriate study abroad experiences, etc.

    Note:  Ensure each document is clearly labeled with a title and origin (course, volunteer experience, etc.)

Supporting Materials: 

  • Cover sheet – with name, major, and expected graduation date
  • Table of contents
  • Professional resume
  • Reflection statements for sections 1-5 (about 1.5 pages in length).  Explain the origins of each piece and why it fits well in that section.  Order pieces to match order used in reflective statement. Prepare the portfolio in paper organized in a notebook. 

Once approved, the final version will be scanned into a PDF and retained by the Environmental Program for program assessment purposes.  Physical notebooks will be returned during exam week.

Example of portfolio contents