ENVR E-599A: Consulting for Sustainability Solutions Capstone


  • Professor: William O'Brian, Neil Hawkins
  • Term: Spring, Fall
  • Days: M (Spring), W (Fall)
  • Time: 5:50-7:50PM
  • School: Harvard Extension School
  • Course ID: 14533; 26337; 24425

This course is designed for Master of Liberal Arts, sustainability or development practice candidates. For sustainability students, the course imparts knowledge and enhances skills for planning sustainability projects and developing solutions for organizations of at least 50 employees. Appropriate clients may include corporations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), municipal/state/provincial governments, primary and secondary schools, universities, hospitals, health centers, and regional development agencies. Sustainability solutions refers to working with a client to develop and deliver a customized sustainability action plan (SAP). Common client goals include reduction of operating costs, minimization of the environmental footprint, brand differentiation, and improvement of environmental sustainability practices. Opportunities are identified and initiatives developed in collaboration with the client for both short and long term. Typical areas of focus include energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction, supply chain management, green IT, and transportation. In support of recommended initiatives, SAPs emphasize a process to foster sustainable behavior, outline key performance indicators to measure performance, and build a sustainability capital reserve to capture cost savings for possible future investments. Development practice students create a development plan (DP) which typically focuses on one or more of these areas: community development, human rights, labor practices, education, environmental sustainability, or fair operating practices. Deliverables for the course are an SAP or DP document and a presentation to the client stakeholders. During the semester, a substantial amount of time is spent by the instructor providing consultative guidance with knowledge shared by other consultants regarding how to most effectively address organizational and/or community requirements and develop actionable solutions. The course structure enables and ensures evaluation of consultant effort through consultant reflections as well as client submission of a satisfaction survey. Past clients have included Adidas; Amazon; Bogota, Columbia; Greater Pittsburgh YMCA; Georgetown University in Qatar; New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation; UNDP Ganges River Rejuvenation; and Utah Center for Affordable Housing.

Prerequisites: Students must be candidates in the Master of Liberal Arts, sustainabilityprogram who are pursuing the consulting capstone track or in the Master of Liberal Arts, development practice program. Students must be in good standing, in their final course, and have successfully completed ENVR S-598a in the 2019 summer term. Students who do not meet these requirements are dropped from the course.