MEM Capstone Guidance

Goals of the YSE MEM Capstone Experience

A requirement of the MEM curriculum is one designated capstone course, or one independent capstone project with a faculty advisor, during the second year of study (joint-degree and part-time students can complete the requirement any time after the first year of study at YSE). These are intended to offer MEM students a culminating professional experience by engaging them in projects that connect their prior coursework with real-world efforts to understand and improve the management of environmental resources.

While a wide range of projects may qualify, some examples include efforts to address climate change, water scarcity, energy access, pollution burdens, habitat conservation, urban resilience, sustainable production and many others. The capstone should be a minimum of three credits and allow for the integration of different experiences into a single representation of a student’s work, helping to set up the transition to a professional career.

Guiding Principles for Capstones

Designated capstone courses and independent capstone projects should seek to:

  • Focus on real-world problems or opportunities of the types students are likely to encounter in their professional careers;
  • Incorporate interdisciplinary perspectives as appropriate for effective environmental management;
  • Challenge students to make judgments in the face of uncertainty;
  • Provide opportunities to work with clients in a clinic-based format;
  • Encourage participation of students from any MEM specialization;
  • Require a group or individual deliverable that represents the culmination of work over the course of the project, following the development of an initial project work plan.

Applying Guiding Principles

Courses that may qualify as capstones will be reviewed against the principles above by the Senior Associate Dean for Professional Practice and recommended to the Master’s Program Committee (MPC) for comment and approval by vote. Independent projects that may qualify as capstones should be reviewed against the criteria above by the advisor of record, who will also make the determination of whether the project will count as a capstone prior to official enrollment.