The ENSU Field Experience is designed to give you the opportunity for direct, meaningful work and activity in a variety of contexts that make up the field of environmental sustainability. Through the Field Experience, you have the opportunity to gain knowledge, skills and abilities that will amplify classroom and theoretical learning, develop practical and useful skill sets, and provide perspective on questions of vocation and career.
Field experiences typically take the form of either an internship experience or a research experience over the summer. A public “Presentation of Learning” (POL) is a required part of both experiences. This typically takes the form of a presentation and/or participation in a poster session. The specific structure of the POL should be worked out in advance with your major adviser.
We strongly encourage you to meet both with your major adviser and your designated career coach in the Center for Global and Career Education as early as possible to consider various internship and research possibilities.
Procedures and deadlines
The Field Experience can be completed during any academic semester or during the summer. A student obtaining ENSU Field Experience credit must work directly in an organization, program or another structured setting that relates to the field of environmental sustainability broadly defined. Students must be pre-approved for this course in the semester prior to the field experience. Pre-approval consists of meeting with an Environmental Sustainability program faculty member (usually your major adviser) and completing the field experience form (available via Moodle — your faculty adviser can add you to the course).
The 0-1 credit course will be applied during the academic semester of the Presentation of Learning of the field experience which should fall at the end of the semester in which the experience takes place or, in the case of a summer experience, in the following fall semester.
In all field experiences, several requirements must be met:
You may not obtain Field Experience credit “after the fact.” Field Experiences must be pre-approved and signed off by the advising faculty member with required forms completed prior to the start of the field experience.
You must have a pre-briefing with the supervising faculty member prior to beginning the field experience. Typically, this happens the semester prior to the experience. In rare circumstances, this can happen during the semester of the experience but this is not recommended. If a physical meeting is not possible, a phone call or online video session may be substituted.
You must have a designated site supervisor who can verify the successful and satisfactory completion of your experience. The experience must total at least 160 hours of direct experience and the designated site supervisor must complete an evaluation form. Exceptions to the 160-hour requirement may be made in consultation with the faculty adviser and the program convener.
To obtain credit for the experience, you must have all of the above documentation in order, meet with your supervising faculty member and give a public “Presentation of Learning” (POL) on your field experience (see details below) during the semester in which credit is to be allocated.
You must pass your POL to obtain credit. If a “provisional pass” is given, you will have to complete additional work as determined by the supervising faculty member before credit is given.
Presentation of Learning (POL)
The Presentation of Learning will entail giving a public presentation followed by a short question and answer period about the presentation from faculty and peers. The presentation should be a coherent and cohesive expression of important learning that you, as a student, wish to “own” from your Field Experience. Purposefully integrative and interdisciplinary, this assignment asks you to draw from all aspects of your Field Experience—the personal, the theoretical and the practical.
The expected outcome for this assignment is that you attempt to integrate and crystallize your learning from the Field Experience. POLs are often used as a way to capture and own the learning that individuals have experienced in a shared, social context. Visual media and other forms of creative expression are encouraged as long as they are balanced with the need to communicate clearly and demonstrate your learning in a relatively short period of time.
Your presentation should be approximately 20 minutes in length and should develop a meaningful and coherent narrative of your experience (i.e. it should not simply be a chronology of “highlight” activities or disconnected reflections). Importantly, the purpose of the exercise is for you to weave together significant aspects of your Field Experience and connect them to your coursework and various important theoretical frameworks in Environmental Sustainability. The evaluating faculty member(s) will be looking for evidence that you have demonstrated new understandings and awareness through this assignment. Presenters are required to do a “dress rehearsal” practice presentation with an ENSU faculty member at least one week before their final presentation is scheduled, in order to receive feedback and guidance in advance of the main public presentation.
Make sure you do the following things in your presentation:
- Tell us about the work you did and what led you to pursue this experience.
- Put the experience in the context of your ENSU major. Discuss connections between your coursework and the experience. What particular readings or theories were most relevant? How did your classes/readings/etc inform your experience? Make sure to provide depth & specificity for these curricular connections.
- Describe the impact of the experience on you. How has the experience informed where you go from here? What questions did it raise for you? What did you learn about what type of work that you find rewarding and enjoy, and what you don’t?
To help you develop your thoughts and ideas, here are a few suggestions:
- Review your notes, journal or other documents—what important themes, ideas and concepts have resonated with your Field Experience? How have you changed intellectually through this experience?
- Think about what you wish to “own” from the experience—what did you take back with you in terms of changed attitudes, values, or behaviors?
- What authors or writings from completed coursework have been especially relevant or helpful in making sense of your experience?
- What experiences were particularly poignant or can be linked together to provide a coherent and compelling narrative to share?
- What questions do you leave with? What queries do you intend to “live out” from here?
If you could have made the same or similar speech prior to your Field Experience, you have not achieved a sufficient level of specificity, depth, and overall engagement with the assignment. Demonstrate your new learning!
If you could have made the same or similar speech prior to your Field Experience, you have not achieved the hoped-for specificity, depth and overall engagement with the assignment. Demonstrate your new learning!
The assignment will be assessed by two members of the ENSU program faculty, including your supervising adviser whenever possible.
The following assessment scale will be used:
- Did not meet – Student has fallen substantially short of meeting expectations for this goal/outcome
- Approaches – Student has not quite met expectations
- Meets – Student has met expectations for seniors in the major for the given goal
- Exceeds – Student stands out from peers in this goal & exceeds expectations for this goal
The following questions will be rated using the assessment scale (described above):
- Did the presentation offer a clear and coherent narrative that describes what you learned from the career-building experience and what you will take away from it?
- Did the presentation demonstrate professionalism in design and delivery, including both oral and visual presentation skills?
- Did the presentation integrate specific prior classwork, ideas, and concepts to help demonstrate learning, with depth and specificity? Did it reflect serious thought and critical analysis? Did it successfully integrate theory and practice?
- Does the presentation demonstrate how you applied relevant skills from your ENSU major to your Field Experience, as well as what you learned about and/or how you further developed those skills?