We are proud of all nineteen graduating ENVS seniors this year: they were a great bunch of students to work with over the last four years, and grew tremendously during this time.
We’d like to honor four graduating seniors in particular—Lex Shapiro, Jesse Simpson, Hannah Smay, and Drew Williamson—who successfully completed all requirements for honors in environmental studies. To earn honors, you not only need a high GPA (3.5 and above); you must also prepare and defend a high quality thesis based on original research, just like students do in graduate school.
These four ENVS honors theses demonstrate the situated approach to interdisciplinary environmental scholarship our students cultivate as part of their major. Here is a quick help page to students on doing situated research: what you will read is that situating an environmental issue grounds it, and its full range of related processes and perspectives, in a place or network of places.
Situating is our approach to interdisciplinarity, as places are inherently mixed up, inherently hybrid; our students thus make sense of environmental issues as they literally take place in this world.
A clue to how our honors awardees situated their thesis projects is provided in each title; please click each for more information and a link to their ENVX thesis publication.
- Lex Shapiro: Pluralizing Paradigms: Rights of Mother Earth in the Plurinational State of Bolivia
- Jesse Simpson: Planning Gentrification: Municipal Policy & Price Effects of the Orange Line in Portland, OR
- Hannah Smay: Unsettling Dreams: Investigating Crisis in Earthquake Fiction from Japan and the Pacific Northwest
- Drew Williamson: Constructing a World-Class Tramway System: Building Identity through Innovative Urbanism in the “Glocal” City of Strasbourg, France
But the honors awardees didn’t just study Bolivia, Portland, the Pacific Rim, and Strasbourg. What they did was shed light on some big themes broadly related to environment—inequities in power relations for Lex, the political economy of urban development for Jesse, the blurred lines between fact and fiction for Hannah, and the interpenetration of global and local spheres for Drew—in particular geographical contexts so as to interpret the details of how nature, economy, politics, culture, and other realms mingle, and thus shed light on these big environmental themes without speaking in vague generalities.
Lex, Jesse, Hannah, and Drew have shown us how to situate environment in these places, as their theses attest. Their environmental scholarship helps us imagine worlds—perhaps better worlds than what we know at present—grounded in this world around us. We offer them our congratulations, and heartfelt wishes for bright futures.