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A Culture of Care >> Read Smith’s plans for the summer and fall 2021 semesters.

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! Some past examples include:

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


The concentration is limited to 15 students per class year. Sophomores, juniors and Ada Comstock Scholars are encouraged to apply. 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

This course is intended to support students to develop self-agency in framing the area of their intellectual inquiry. Normally students complete this requirement after they have been accepted into the concentration and have completed at least one practical experience.

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.

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.

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.


Fill out the Declaration Form when you first meet with your concentration adviser. This will allow the concentration to show up in WorkDay and makes your participation official with the college.

Early in the final semester of senior year you are required to submit a completed Concentration Checklist, signed by your adviser, indicating that you have completed all concentration requirements. You will not receive credit for the concentration without submitting this form to Joanne Benkley.


How to Apply

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.

The next deadline to apply is October 8, 2021.





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