ENVR E-599: Independent Research Capstone


  • Professor: Jennifer Cole 
  • Term: Spring
  • Days: M
  • Time: 11:00AM-1:00PM
  • School: Harvard Extension School
  • Course ID: 24009

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. 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, and use and analysis of case studies; benchmarking and bet-hedging; effective writing, graphic presentation, and referencing; and 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.

Prerequisites: Students must be in their final semester as candidates in the Master of Liberal Arts, sustainability or ecosystems.Students must submit their capstone approval form to their research advisor by November 1. Admittance to the course is contingent on the research advisor's approval of the proposed capstone topic. Students should not delay as there is much to discuss to ensure a successful capstone. Students who do not meet these requirements are dropped from the course.