Capstone Projects


Every Certificate Student is Required to Complete a Capstone Project

Capstone projects provide an opportunity for students to apply classroom learning to hands-on sustainability challenges. Through the capstone, students will demonstrate leadership skills and work with campus and community partners.

Guidelines

  1. Capstone projects can occur during fall or spring semester and may extend over more than one semester.
  2. Students will work in groups on capstone projects (no more than 6 students per group).
  3. Students must register for a minimum of 3 credit hours for one semester for the capstone project.
  4. Students must identify or be matched with 1) a campus or community partner and 2) a faculty or staff Subjet Matter Expert prior to submitting their work plan.
  5. For capstone projects involving children, students will not assume a supervisory role over minors (i.e. parents/guardians and/or school staff will always be present during any interaction with minors).
  6. Students must write a reflection on the capstone project to be included in the final portfolio.
  7. Students must present their capstone project prior to graduation.

Process

  1. Identify capstone project
    1. There are two possibilities for project identification. You may:
      1. Develop your own independent project, which must be approved by the Director prior to the start of your capstone semester or 
      2. Participate in our Project Selection Survey at the end of the semester preceding your capstone project semester, from which you will be assigned a project with a campus or community client as part of an interdisciplinary team.
    2. It is recommended that all students attend the Capstone Workshop the semester prior to their capstone semester. The workshop will be the starting point for understanding the structure, process, and expectations of the capstone. The workshop will include the following:
      1. self and skill evaluation
      2. nuts and bolts of the capstone process
      3. details about the capstone course
      4. details on working with a campus/community client and faculty/staff Subject Matter Expert
  2. Identify campus or community partner client
    1. This can be done independently or through the Project Selection Survey, which will be distributed to and completed by all upcoming capstone students at the end of the semester preceding their capstone project term.
    2. This partner will act as client and collaborator, providing you with a problem statement to be solved in order to advance their organization's sustainability goals.
  3. Identify Subject Matter Expert
    1. Prior to beginning work on the project, the capstone team will need to identify a Subject Matter Expert (SME).
    2. SMEs can be internship supervisors, faculty, or staff. All SMEs must be approved by the Certificate Director.
    3. The main role of the SME is to be a point of reference for expertise and advice.
    4. Depending on the type of project, the  SME’s degree of involvement will vary.
  4. Develop capstone work plan
    1. Students will develop a work plan for their capstone project, outlining goals, personal objectives, timeline, resources/partners, and success metrics. 
  5. Register for course credit
    1. Students must register for a minimum of 3 credit hours for their capstone course (FCID 4500) prior to drop/add deadline
  6. Reflect on capstone learning
    1. At the end of the capstone, students will be expected to develop a reflection (essay or video essay) on their project to be included in their certificate portfolio. The reflection should communicate how the capstone experience influenced their sustainability learning and their ability to approach sustainability challenges.
    2. Written reflections should be 3-5 pages in length. See the Portfolio page for more details.
  7. Present capstone work
    1. Prior to graduation, the student must deliver a presentation about their capstone experience.
    2. Presentation venues include the Sustainability seminar course, the annual CURO symposium, or professional meetings and conferences. We also encourage students to present their work at the Office of Sustainability's Semester in Review, though we cannot accept this poster presentation as the final presentation requirement.
      • Students must indicate their presentation venue in their certificate checklist.

Potential Projects

When choosing a capstone project, students should identify a specific problem or need that will engage the student’s academic learning with a hands-on sustainability challenge. For all the possibilities listed below, students must go through the certificate’s capstone development process listed above. Possible capstone projects include (but are not limited to):

  • A project partnership with a local client, chosen and assigned through the Project Selection Survey in which students create and implement a sustainable solution to a problem at UGA or in the Athens community
  • Research in sustainability through CURO (curo.uga.edu) or a student’s department
  • A semester-long internship with the Office of Sustainability or other approved internship
  • Service learning project
  • Other independent project

Possibilities for Capstone Course Credit

Every student must enroll in a 3 credit hour course during the semester they complete their capstone.

It is recommended that students enroll in FCID 4500/6500:

  • This course will be taught by the certificate director and graduate assistant.
  • It will serve as a guiding class for students working with a campus/community partner.
  • Students should enroll in FCID 4500/6500 for the same semester in which they will complete their capstone project.

Other options include:

  • Existing courses within departments
    • Courses may already exist within your department that can be taken for capstone credit. These include special topics, directed reading, research, practicum, and/or thesis courses (usually 4000-level and up).
  • CURO course
    • If the student’s capstone is in the form of CURO research, the CURO course will fulfill the credit requirement.
  • Internship credit
    • If you will be completing an internship for your capstone, you must still be enrolled in a 3 credit hour course.
    • Many departments offer opportunities to receive course credit for a related internship. You should speak to your major advisor to get this credit.

Note: each of the above is not a capstone in and of itself; you must go through our development process and meet all requirements for the capstone.

Please note that the capstone work plan approval process will include review of course credit selection. If you are unsure about the appropriate course to register for or have additional concerns, reach out to the Certificate staff for help.

FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES TO SUPPORT STUDENT RESEARCH

We strongly encourage all students in the Sustainability Certificate program to consider applying for these grants as they develop their capstone project. Deadlines apply for these opportunities; please check websites for complete details.

CURO Research Assistantship

The CURO Research Assistantship (CRA) supports experiential learning opportunities that only a major research university can provide. As part of an initiative to enhance the UGA learning environment, the CURO Research Assistantship Program provides 500 stipends of $1,000 each to outstanding undergraduate students across campus to actively participate in faculty-mentored research.

Campus Sustainability Grants

The UGA Campus Sustainability Grants Program provides competitive funding for student-proposed projects and initiatives designed to advance sustainability through education, research, service, and campus operations.

Social Ecology Studio Project Pilot Grants

The Social Ecology Studio is a multi-researcher, collaborative art workspace dedicated to advancing sustainability and resilience through the arts. Capitalizing on art's ability to engage, inform and activate a diverse range of constituents, the studio acts as a bridge, humanizing and connecting community members and policy makers with issues entrenched in social ecology. The Studio facilitates collaborations with scientific and social research topics from across campus and the community, serving as a hub for graduate and undergraduate students to identify research opportunities while providing space and resources to work collaboratively. Download the full details (PDF)

Non FCID 4500/6500 Capstones

Reasons for requesting an alternative capstone

  1. Academic: Alternative capstone best meets academic trajectory and connects Sustainability Certificate to discipline of study.
  2. Scheduling: The Sustainability Certificate Capstone Course conflicts with a required course for graduation both fall and spring semester of your senior year. (If you know you have a required course middle of the day your final semester, you should make every effort to take the Sustainability Certificate Capstone course the semester before.)

Process for non FCID 4500/6500 capstones:

Prior to enrolling:

  1. Identify options for an alternative capstone that is at least 3 credits (course, internship, etc.) and determine how you will ensure that this alternative will provide you with an opportunity to apply your academic sustainability learning to a hands on project in your primary field of study. Ideal projects are collaborative (teams) and meet an identified community need. Theoretical projects will be considered on a case by case basis.
  2. Present your alternative capstone to the SC Director in Office Hours or at a scheduled appointment time for approval prior to registration for the term in which you will complete your capstone.
  3. Complete the “request for a substitution form” on the SC Website. Capstone substitutions for fall semester must be submitted by April 15. Capstone substitutions for spring semester must be submitted by November 15.

During the semester:

  1. At the beginning of the semester, update the SC Director with project details and how your work will incorporate all three spheres of sustainability through e-mail or during office hours.
  2. Check in through e-mail or office hours mid-way through the semester on project progress and to identify opportunities to enhance the sustainability components of the project.
  3. Present capstone project at the Sustainability Capstone Final Presentations at the end of the semester.
  4. Write Sustainability Capstone reflection and upload it to your Sustainability Certificate Website with supporting artifacts.