The Capstone is a required year-long project completed in partnership with a public, private, or non-profit institution. Projects will be conducted by small teams of 3 - 5 MENV graduate students. The Capstone Project sequence consists of the Capstone Innovation Lab course sequence - as well as five credit hours of applied work during the Summer Session.

Capstone participants are not traditional interns, but instead are highly motivated graduate students, generally equipped with prior professional experience, and who will provide innovative solutions and useful products to Capstone client organizations.

In addition, Capstone Projects provide MENV graduate students with real-world, hands-on, applications-based experiences embedded within the context of an organization's need and capacities.

The MENV course sequence will hone students professional skills, such as project management, stakeholder engagement, analysis, collaboration, and financial planning, that will be essential to success in their professional careers. Students will also develop valuable contacts and practical experiences through the networks they develop.

Capstone Partners

Capstone partners will span a broad spectrum of organizations involved in environment, energy, and planning. CU Boulder's MENV program will partner with organizations from the NGO community, the private sector, as well as local, state, and federal governments. For example, past partners include Aspen Snowmass, B Lab, Boulder County, City of Boulder, City of Denver, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Rocky Mountain Institute, The Nature Conservancy, and Vail Resorts. Please view the video below to learn more about the Masters of the Environment program's Capstone partnership with Boulder Organic Foods in 2018.

 

See the full list of 2020 Capstone Partners here.

You can also read our 2018 Capstone Spotlight: Developing an implementation strategy for Nederland, Colorado’s 100 percent renewable energy pledge

Partnering with CU Boulder brings a number of benefits to external organizations:

  • Solutions to the complex problems faced by many organizations
  • Additional capacity from MENV program's top-level graduate students
  • Opportunities to gain insights regarding potential future employees
  • A relationship with CU-Boulder that could result in other partnerships
  • Participation in training the next generation of environment, energy, policy, and planning professionals

Student Expectations

One important aspect of the MENV Graduate Program is to train students to become leaders and innovators. As such, once teams are selected and the research scope of the project is defined, the planning, research, and associated work are expected to be student driven. Faculty and partner input are critical, but ultimately student teams are responsible for managing the project and taking initiative to move the project forward. Successful MENV students:

  • Research prospective partners, submit professional application materials, and present a clear and cogent pitch to the faculty selection committee;
  • Work closely with teammates and faculty advisors to set clear project goals and benchmarks;
  • Drive the progress of the project with solution-orientated approaches;
  • Demonstrate professionalism in all interactions with partner organizations and other stakeholders;
  • Communicate regularly and professionally with the Capstone Partner and submit materials for them to provide feedback;
  • Produce high-quality, sophisticated, professional products and services.

Capstone Partner Expectations

  • Fully engaged and committed to work with a student team for the duration of their 12-month project
  • Prepared to provide mentorship opportunities and advisement to graduate students
  • Supportive of the educational goals of the project and the MENV program
  • Consistent in providing a single point of contact for the team and timely in response to team members
  • Constructive in feedback

Connection to CU

CU Boulder's MENV program will stay closely connected to each partner and Capstone Project. Full-time staff will be dedicated to working with your organization to assist in development of project ideas, recruitment of appropriate student teams, and to mentor MENV students. The MENV staff will be attentive to your needs, help ensure rigorous and thorough participation by students, and serve as your point-of-contact between your organization and CU-Boulder. 

For more information about becoming a Capstone partner or past Capstone Projects, please contact Myles Maland, Associate Director of Program Administration, at myles.maland@colorado.edu. You can also visit our Employers and Partners page.