Guidelines for the Capstone

The Sustainability Certificate requires every student 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. A capstone can take the form of an internship, research, or a group or independent project.

Guidelines

  1. Capstone projects can occur during fall, spring, or summer semester and may extend over more than one consequetive semesters. 
  2. Students may work in groups on capstone projects (no more than 5 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 a campus or community mentor prior to submitting their work plan.
  5. Students must develop a work plan prior to the semester of capstone coursework.
    • Two peer reviews and a final director's review are required before approval of the work plan.
    • Each capstone student is also required to provide two peer reviews.
  6. Students must write a reflection to be included in the final portfolio.
  7. Students must present their capstone work plan prior to graduation.  

Process

  1. Identify capstone project
    • Students are expected to attend the Capstone Workshop, held concurrently with the Orientation, the semester prior to their capstone semester. The workshop will be the starting point for idea generation for a student’s capstone. The workshop will include the following:
      • self and skill evaluation
      • nuts and bolts of the capstone process
      • details about the capstone course
      • details on working with a faculty mentor
      • time for individual and group project development
    • Students should review the list of Completed Capstones and a list of Capstone Ideas for examples and ideas (students are also welcome to submit new ideas to be listed).
      • These lists include starting points for appropriate resources. You can see a full list at the Resources page.
  2. Identify mentor
    • The semester prior to completing the capstone, the student (or student group) will need to identify a capstone mentor.
    • Mentors can be internship supervisors, faculty, staff, or nonprofit or government representatives. All mentors must be approved by the certificate director.
    • The main role of a mentor is to monitor the student’s progress and to be a point of reference for expertise and advice.
    • Depending on the type of project, a mentor’s degree of involvement will vary.
    • Students and mentors should be clear about expectations for the mentor’s level of involvement. This may include the development of the work plan, regular meetings, and/or grading (depending on the type of course credit).
    • For more guidance, please refer to the Mentor Guidelines.
    • Check our Resources List and Sustainability Faculty list for possible mentors.
  3. Develop capstone work plan
    • Create work plan
      • Students will develop a work plan for their capstone project, outlining goals, personal objectives, checkpoints, resources/partners, and success metrics. The capstone work plan is an online form available through the certificate website (student must be logged in to access it).
      • A minimum of four checkpoints is required to ensure that students are on track to reach project goals. Students are required to add necessary details to these four checkpoints. Additional checkpoints may be created if desired.
    • Conduct and receive peer reviews
      • Two peer reviews must be completed before final work plans are submitted.
      • In addition to receiving a minimum of two peer reviews of your work plan, you are also required to provide at least two peer reviews.
      • Each semester, certificate staff will email all students to remind them about the peer-review process and provide peer review guidance.
    • Revise and submit for final approval from director
      • After the peer review process, students will revise the work plan based on feedback and submit it for director approval.
      • Deadline for the capstone work plan is the last day of classes the semester preceding the capstone.
      • Director will notify student and mentor once work plan is approved.
  4. Register for course credit
    • Students must register for a minimum of 3 credit hours for their capstone course prior to drop/add deadline.
    • This will be different depending on the type of project (i.e. research, internship, independent, group). See the Possibilities for Capstone Course Credit section below for details.
  5. Reflect on capstone learning
    • 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.
    • Written reflections should be 3-5 pages in length. See Crafting the Portfolio page for more details.
  6. Present capstone work
    • Prior to graduation, the student must deliver a presentation about their capstone experience.
    • Presentation venues include the Sustainability seminar course, the annual CURO symposium, the Office of Sustainability's Semester in Review, or professional meetings and conferences.
      • 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):

  • Research in sustainability through CURO (curo.uga.edu) or a student’s department
  • A semester-long internship with the Office of Sustainability (sustainability.uga.edu/get-involved/internships) or other approved internship
  • Service learning project (servicelearning.uga.edu)
  • An independent (individual or group) project in which students create and implement a sustainable solution to a problem at UGA or in the Athens community

For a list of capstone project ideas or to submit a specific project idea, visit the Capstone Ideas page.

 

Possibilities for Capstone Course Credit 

Every student must enroll in a 3 credit hour course during the semester they complete their capstone. This can be accomplished a number of ways:

  • 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.
  • Certificate capstone course 
    • Students engaging in independent projects (which may be a group project) for which none of the above course credit options are applicable may enroll in the certificate’s own capstone course (FCID 4500/6500).
    • This course will be taught by the certificate director. It will serve as a guiding seminar class for such capstone students.
    • It is recommended that students enroll in FCID 4500/6500 for the same semester in which they will begin work on their capstone project. If you plan to extend your capstone project over two semesters,  please plan to join the capstone course during the first semester of your project.

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.

For a list of possible courses, click here for undergrad courses and here for graduate courses.

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.

Effective Fall 2016 for incoming first-year students, every student must fulfill the university-wide experiential learning requirement (including undergraduate research, study abroad, service-learning, internships, and more). The Sustainability Certificate has experiential learning built into the program, and the capstone project may be applied towards the university-wide experiential learning requirement.