There are a number of ways to fund faculty-sponsored summer research experiences for undergraduates at Brown. The Brown Environmental Fellows Program is intended to complement, not compete, with those other opportunities.
There are a couple of ways that BEF is different, however. First, the mentoring and research experience extends far beyond the summer months. Fellows begin planning their projects with their mentors in the spring (or ideally the previous fall) and often continue to work with their mentors throughout the senior year. So Fellows have the opportunity to work closely with a faculty member over an extended period of time. Secondly, Fellows are required to participate in the capstone course, ENVS 1965 (next offered in Spring 2012).
This seminar enables Fellows and other qualified participants to place their independent research in a broader scientific and policy context, and to learn to communicate science to diverse audiences, including journalists and policymakers. To illustrate the potential value and appeal of this course, it’s worth noting that for the course’s first run in Spring 2011, we’ve had multiple requests by graduate students and even faculty to sit in on the course! Finally, the Brown Environmental Fellows are a community of like-minded Brown students and alums, natural and social scientists and humanists who are committed to learning ways to communicate and translate what they are learning at the bench or in the field to policymakers and the public.