ENVR E-599: Independent Research Capstone

The course provides each participant with a guided immersion in the processes of heuristic question formulation, objective research design, and implementation. Included are hypothesis testing, data collection and analysis, writing, revision, and final dissemination. Four contexts catalyze this integrative work and ensure extensive feedback. Individual meetings of each participant with the course instructor occur throughout the semester, beginning with review of the preliminary research proposal and completion of a needs assessment survey. Subsequent meetings serve to ensure research progress is on track and make full use of available experts, references, and other resources. Lectures and discussions explore challenges and opportunities in boundary delineation and other assumptions, project scoping, assessment of potential impact (and, where appropriate, procedural reviews such as the university's policy on use of human subjects), inclusion of stakeholders, and sampling design; logical consistency, lateral thinking, use and analysis of case studies; benchmarking, bet-hedging; effective writing, graphic presentation and referencing; public presentation and network establishment. Using a recurring workshop format, participants regularly present components of their work-in-progress to subgroups and to the entire class, for review and constructive input. At the semester's close, the professional community is invited to attend participants' presentations of their final research projects. This is accomplished via a class poster exhibition and/or through a web-based video archive of project presentations.​

Note: Course meets roughly every other Thursday, 5:30-9:40 pm. See syllabus for specific meeting dates. Optional sections to be arranged.
Prerequisite: Students must be in their final semester as candidates in the Master of Liberal Arts, Sustainability or Ecosystems. They must have completed all the course work for the program, including completion of the analytical skills requirement. They must have earned a satisfactory score on the test of critical reading and writing skills or a B or higher grade in the alternative expository writing course. Finally, students must have their capstone topics pre-approved by Mr. George Buckley. For approval, please submit the Capstone Approval Form to their research advisor between by July 15. Students should not delay and should not wait until July as there is much to discuss to ensure a successful capstone. Students who do not meet these requirements are dropped from the course.


Richard Wetzler







Course ID: 

14598; 24009

Research Areas: 

  • [Course titles in brackets] indicate that the course is not scheduled to be taught during the 2018-2019 academic year, but may be offered in an alternate year.
  • An asterisk (*) before a course number indicates that a student must obtain the instructor's permission in order to enroll in the course.

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