A successful Capstone Project Topic is a specific policy, action, plan or proposal (at any level of government), that is being currently debated in the public arena, of genuine interest to you, and relevant to energy or sustainability.
You must be able to reference a single source that fully describes the specific policy, action, plan or proposal. For example, "cap and trade" alone is too general. However, something along the lines of Washington State's proposed Climate Responsibility "cap-and-trade" House Bill 1314, would work well!
Your topic must invite a range of opinions (supporting AND opposing) from different interested parties. These interested parties are called "stakeholders" and may include businesses, non-profit advocacy groups, associations and individuals. (They do not include government agencies.)
Will my idea work for a project topic? Check yourself!
1) The topic needs to be a "policy, action, plan or proposal" that can be fully referenced with a single source. Can you provide this single source?
2) The topic must be "currently debated." To be clear about this, it helps to state the debatable aspect of your proposed topic in the form of a question. Typically, it would be like, "Do you support or oppose Senate Bill XXX proposing Carbon Tax?" Can you state a simple question that would be at the center of the debate about your topic?
3) You will need to identify at least eight stakeholders (interested parties) that care deeply about the answer to this question. With research, will you be able to identify eight stakeholders, with at least three on each side?
The definition of your project topic is done in two steps: “General Area(s) I am Considering” then “Project Topic.”
General Areas (s) I am Considering
One of the early stumbling blocks for many students is finding a way to connect their general research interest(s) with a specific policy that is being currently debated in the public arena.
This “specific policy” will serve as the focus point for the rest of your research in your course. Defining this “specific policy” clearly and sufficiently is absolutely necessary. (Doing this well will save you lots of misery down the road!) The “specific policy” you choose may be formal legislation at any stage of debate or consideration or it may be a well-formed policy idea that is ready for proposal but not yet proposed.
This “General Area(s) I am Considering” step is designed to help you get the ball rolling and to help you make the necessary connection between your interests and a specific policy. This step also gives us the info we need to match you with a Coach who shares your interest and is well suited to meet your needs.
Before making this submission, you’ll want to do lots of reading and exploring on your own, considering all that you have learned in your previous coursework and other life experiences too. Think about the future—any topics of special interest or use at work now or for the job you hope to get? Maybe graduate school? Give this step the time and attention it deserves. You’re going to spend the entire semester learning more about the topic you choose!
Title your submission “General Area(s) I am Considering”. Be sure each page includes your name and page numbers. You must submit at least one General Area, but may submit more if you wish (not necessary). For each, be sure to include:
- Brief description of the area of interest and why you are interested (a few sentences).
- Link(s) to one or more specific related polices or proposals that are being currently debated (undecided) in the public arena with a brief description of each.
Not necessary, but repeat this for as many General Areas as you like! Include all your "areas of interest" in a single document. We'll help you sort them out and choose which direction to pursue.
Submit your “General Areas(s) I am Considering” document (in the Canvas Project Topic module) by the due date given in the Course Calendar.
Soon after you submit your General Area(s) document, the course instructor will reply with comments and questions as needed to move the process forward and to match you with a Coach well suited to support your work in this course.
You must complete this step and be assigned a Coach before any additional work may be submitted for credit in this course.
Once you have been assigned a Coach, you are ready to submit your full Project Topic document. As you do the work to develop your full Project Topic, please be in touch with your Coach for guidance and input as needed. We are here to help and happy to hear from you!
Title your submission “Project Topic.” Be sure each page includes your name and page numbers.
The Project Topic (no more than three pages) includes the following sections. Use subheads as shown to identify each section of your work.
If you have questions, please ask your Coach before submitting your work.
- Title of Paper. Typically this is a phrase that clearly references specific policy, action, plan or proposal, with the subtitle "Analysis and Recommendations". For example, "An Examination of EPA's Clean Power Plan for Maryland: Analysis and Recommendations"
- Defining Document. Link to a single document or website that fully describes the specific policy, action, plan or proposal you wish to consider (and remember, it needs to be a policy that is being currently debated)
- Topic Description. Brief explanation of what policy proposes to do, scope of influence and discussion of key terms and concepts.
- Current Status of Topic. One paragraph, including any relevant dates and deadlines. Include the sources you used for this information.
- Question for Debate. Project topics must be "currently debated." State the debatable aspect of your proposed topic in the form of a question. (For example, "Do you support or oppose..") Be as specific as possible.
- Stakeholders. Give name and website for two organizations that oppose and two organizations that support the policy. (They will answer the question above differently!)
- Issues Student Expects to Explore List at least three possibilities.
- Student’s Basis for Choosing the Topic Describe reason for your interest.
- In-Person Presentation Plans Even if preliminary, provide plans for event, audience and date of In-Person Presentation--for ideas, see the In-Person Presentation Report page
Submit your “Project Topic” document (in the Canvas Project Topic module) by the due date given in the Course Calendar. Earlier submissions are welcomed!
Your Coach will respond to topic submissions with feedback and guidance. In some cases, revisions may be required. You will want to make these revisions fully and quickly. Project Topics are not graded, but an approved Project Topic is required before you can submit any additional work for credit in this course.
The coach will let you know when your Project Topic is fully approved, by both the coach and the course instructor.
Remember, an approved Project Topic is required before any additional work may be submitted for credit in this course.