The ENSU 381 Field Experience is designed to give students 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, students 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 the field experience. 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 all students to meet both with their major adviser and their designated career coach in the Center for Career and Community Engagement 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 381 credit must work directly in an organization, program, or other 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.
- Students 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.
- Students 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 Skype session may be substituted.
- Students must have a designated site supervisor who can verify the successful and satisfactory completion of the 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, students must have all of the above documentation in order, meet with their supervising faculty member, and give a public “Presentation of Learning” (POL) on their field experience (see details below), during the semester in which credit is to be allocated.
- Students must pass their POL to obtain credit. If a “provisional pass” is given, students will have to complete additional work as determined by the supervising faculty member before credit is given.
Presentation of Learning
The Presentation of Learning will entail giving a public presentation followed by a short “Q and A” about the presentation from faculty and peers. The presentation will be a coherent and cohesive expression of important learning you as a student wish to “own” from your Field Experience. Purposefully integrative and interdisciplinary in scope, this assignment asks you to draw from all aspects of your experience-- the personal, the theoretical, and the practical.
Our expectation for this assignment is that you attempt to integrate and crystallize the learning you have had in your Field Experience. Presentations of learning are often used as a way of capturing and owning the learning that individuals have experienced in a shared, social context. Visual media and other forms of creative expression are encouraged so long as they are balanced with the need to clearly communicate and demonstrate your learning in a relatively short period of time.
Your presentation should be approximately 20-30 minutes in length and should develop a meaningful and coherent narrative over its course (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 the 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.
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 experience? How have you changed, intellectually through this experience?
- Think about what you wish to “own” from this 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 the hoped for specificity, depth, and overall engagement with the assignment. Demonstrate your new learning!
The assignment will be assessed by program faculty, including your supervising adviser. In considering the effectiveness of the presentation, we will ask the following:
Did the presentation:
- Have a clear and coherent narrative?
- Integrate specific prior classwork, ideas, and concepts to help demonstrate learning?
- Reflect serious thought and critical analysis?
- Successfully integrate theory and practice?
- Demonstrate professionalism in design and delivery particularly related to both oral and visual presentation skills?