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Environmental Concentration

Wind turbines over vast landscape

The Environmental Concentration provides an experiential framework to support students in the exploration of issues related to the environment, ecological design and sustainability embedded in disciplines across the college. The concentration enables students to weave together formal and informal learning opportunities as a way of bridging theory and practice in support of environmental decisions and action. With support of an academic adviser, students will shape a topical area of inquiry of their choosing to define their environmental concentration. The possibilities are endless!


Information About the Concentration

For information about the concentrations, please join us at the Presentation of the Concentrations on Tuesday, October 3, 12:15 p.m., Carroll Room, Campus Center 2nd Floor. Register to attend.


The concentration is limited to 15 students per class year. Sophomores, juniors and Ada Comstock Scholars are encouraged to apply. The selection of concentrators is based on academic performance, intentionality and commitment, and diversity of the cohort.

Gateway Course

Choose one:

  • ENX 100: Environment and Sustainability: Notes from the Field (1 credit/offered each year)
  • LSS 100: Landscape, Environment, Design (2 credits/offered each year)

The Gateway Course may be taken prior to admittance to the concentration and is typically completed before senior year.

Path-Making Course

IDP 132: Designing Your Path
IDP 232: Articulating Your Path

These courses are intended to support students to develop self-agency in framing the area of their intellectual inquiry. Students must complete this requirement after they have been accepted into the concentration and normally after they have completed at least one practical experience. Students who choose to take IDP 132 prior to joining the concentration should plan to take IDP 232 to meet the program requirements.

Academic Core

In consultation with your adviser, you must choose four classes from among the many courses offered within the Five Colleges that connect with your concentration focus. Courses must span at least two of the three divisions: humanities; social sciences and history; and natural sciences and engineering. It is expected that you will take at least two of the core courses in semesters after admittance to the concentration.

Practical Experiences

Practical experiences are an integral part of the Environmental Concentration; they provide opportunities to integrate the knowledge gained from various courses in support of work related to the environment and the concentration, and to learn from and critically reflect upon those experiences outside of the classroom in a way that enhances your course of study at Smith.

Practical experiences may include internships and paid or volunteer work that aligns with your topical focus. To fulfill your requirements, you must complete two distinct practical experiences.

Minimum Requirements

You will complete two different practical experiences to fulfill the requirements for the concentration. Each internship, volunteer or work experience must meet the following minimum requirements:

  • Consist of 100 hours of work—roughly equivalent to a semester-long campus commitment or a 2.5-week full-time internship. (In some situations, a work experience may be concomitant with academic study that bears credit. The work component should be distinct and, on its own, satisfy the 100-hour minimum.)
  • Focus on substantive, content-based work.
  • Occur after your arrival at Smith.
  • Be approved by your concentration adviser.

Receiving Credit

To receive credit for your practical experience, you must:

  1. Talk your plans over with your concentration adviser. Then apply for internship credit via the Lazarus Center for Career Development. For funded internships, students will only need to apply for credit. For normally unfunded internships, students may apply for Praxis with credit or Praxis Plus with credit, whichever is appropriate. 
  2. In your application be sure to indicate that the internship is for the concentration. Be sure to list your faculty adviser for the concentration as your adviser (not your major adviser), and Joanne Benkley as the concentration director in your application. Praxis Plus eligibility forms- the Concentration Director Confirmation- should be sent to Joanne Benkley.

Retroactive Practicum Experiences

With your adviser's approval, a practical experience completed before entering the Environmental Concentration may be accepted provided that it consisted of at least 100 hours and took place after your senior year of high school and within two years of matriculating at Smith. Please consult your concentration adviser, and then document your experience by completing the Practical Experience Approval Form retroactively with your concentration adviser soon after you have been accepted into the concentration.

Capstone Course

ENX 301: Environmental Concentration Capstone

This senior seminar course brings concentrators together as a cohort to engage in a community and team-based capstone project. It is designed to complement the core courses students take for their focus by providing a deeper experience.


Declaration of Concentration

Students who have been accepted into the concentration and received their adviser’s name need to fill out the
→ Program of Study Declaration Form.
This is the last step in making the concentration official in Workday.

Practical Experience Forms

After discussing a proposed practical experience with their advisers, students must complete the corresponding practical experience approval form in order to have the experience count towards the concentration requirements:

  • Summer Internship (100 hours or more) → Internship Credit Application
    All students undertaking a summer internship of at least 100 hours are eligible to receive academic credit (0.25 credits per experience) that will appear on their transcript. All concentration students preparing to undertake a paid internship should complete this form. Students completing an unpaid internship who are applying for Praxis funding support should use the “Praxis with Credit” form. See below.
  • Unpaid Summer Internship (220 hours or more) → Praxis with Credit Application
    All Smith students are eligible to receive a stipend payment for one normally unpaid internship through the Praxis program at the Lazarus Center. These internships must take place during the summer, and must comprise at least 220 working hours. When applying for a Praxis internship, the applicant must specify if the internship counts towards a concentration and should fill out the “Praxis with Credit” application.  
    Students in Concentrations are eligible to apply for Praxis a second time - Praxis Plus. Students applying for Praxis Plus should be in touch with Concentration Director Joanne Benkley about any required Praxis forms (e.g. the Concentration Director Completion Form).
  • Other Internships and Practical Experiences
    Students whose internships do not meet the above requirements because they take place during Interterm, during the school year, or for any other reason, should fill out the forms below.
    Prior to starting the internship please fill out the → Practical Experience Approval Form.
    Upon completion of the practical experience please fill out the  Practical Experience Completion Form.
  • Retroactive Credit for an Experience
    Students who completed a practical experience relevant to the concentration prior to being accepted into the cohort should discuss the experience with their concentration adviser as soon as possible after being accepted into the concentration. Once the experience is approved, and before the end of the semester they join, students must fill out the → Practical Experience Completion Form. Be sure to check the “Retroactive Experience” box on the form.

Advising Checklist for Graduation

Students are required to submit a completed Concentration Advising Checklist at the start of their final semester. This form documents the completed components of the concentration requirements, and must be signed by the student’s concentration adviser. Completed form should be sent to the Registrar’s office ( and to the Administrative Coordinator for Concentrations (

Practical Experience Information

In the past, students have completed Environmental Concentration practical experiences based on the following topics:

  • sustainable food
  • environmental justice
  • environmental education
  • sustainable development
  • environmental humanities
  • art and the environment
  • environmental journalism
  • climate science 
  • environmental diplomacy
  • agricultural economics


Next application deadline is October 13, 2023. We do consider applications on a rolling basis, so let us know of your interest if you are outside of this cycle. You are always welcome to reach out to Joanne Benkley with questions. 

To apply to the Environmental Concentration, log in and fill out the online application. You may apply to the concentration in your sophomore or junior year.



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Smith College
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: 413-585-3352
Fax: 413-585-3333