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Portfolio Instructions

(Spring 2015 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 graded 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) Considering 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. Draw well-reasoned conclusions about the validity/value of these different viewpoints and how they should in the 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). If possible, one of these examples should come 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 (e.g., evaluating the potential of nuclear energy involves an understanding of micro-economics [cost-effectiveness given risk and insurance], engineering [what resources are required], and psychology [will people tolerate waste disposal near them])
  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 learning: Submit evidence of meaningful, sustained, experiential 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; or posters or papers prepared from undergraduate research experience.  If you have no experiential learning please include a single page of paper stating this and short explanation of why (to help program faculty develop solutions).

    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 both paper form (organized in a notebook) and in electronic form, submitted through the class blackboard site (instructions on how will be provided)

Once approved, the final version will be converted to pdf form (if it isn’t already) and will be retained by the Environmental Program for program assessment purposes. Notebooks will be returned to students during exam week.

Example of portfolio contents