Part 1: Introduction to Sustainable Societies

10. Explanation of the Final Student Project

The requirements of the final project and how students may begin to prepare for it are outlined

Preparation:

      • Sustainability Strategy Analysis Sheet Handouts

In Class:

In order to help students begin planning their final projects for Part 4 of the course, an explanation of what will be expected should be given.

For the project, students will select a current sustainability problem in a community that is familiar to them and develop and propose a set of strategies that will address and positively impact multiple sustainability issues involved in the problem. Presentations on Final Student Projects will occur in the last weeks of class and will be assessed according to the criteria in the Sustainability Strategy Analysis Sheet, which should be handed out to students just before this discussion.

Projects and presentations should include descriptions of the problem or problems, the issues and issue interrelationships involved in the problem, and explanations of the strategies that the students propose to solve the problem and improve the issues related to the problem. Students should strive to develop an integrated, multi-issue solution that balances social, economic, and environmental considerations.

The Sustainability Strategy Analysis Sheet that the students have used during Parts 2 and 3 will be used by those reviewing the presentation. It therefore serves as an excellent organizing device for students as they develop their projects as well as providing the organizational outline for making their presentation. It should be used by the student to outline a proposed project at the time the student seeks approval of the project concept from the instructor.

A written version of the project of approximately five to seven pages is to be handed in to the instructor at the time the project is presented.

Many details of how this project is assigned to students are up to you, including:

  1. Individual versus Group Projects: Group proposals are preferred because one of the goals of the course is to prepare and encourage students to work with people from other disciplines to develop better integrated strategies.
  2. Proposal versus Assignment: For the community application project, we recommend that students propose problems that they wish to design solutions for that would address needs in their home communities. We also recommend that the students be strongly encouraged to be in contact with community representatives as they gather information and design their proposed solutions. This will maximize independent student research, one of the goals of the course. Or, you can suggest one or more, preferably local, sustainability problems from which the students may choose. If you choose this approach you are encouraged to solicit problems from the communities themselves, possibly from local government, industry, or civil society. You are strongly encouraged to invite representatives from those communities which student projects focused on to attend the final presentations and to participate as reviewers. By engaging the community, you can demonstrate your studentsí efforts to develop solutions for problems in the community and in the process develop good will and possible collaboration with community representatives in the actual implementation of the projects that the students propose. Being reviewed by real stakeholders also adds reality to the studentsí work and who knows, through these presentations, creative students may be found by future employers!

  3. If the problem is not assigned by you:
      • Students should be advised that the problem that they propose to address should involve a minimum of five issues.
      • To help demonstrate the concept of a multi-issue problem, students can be referred to the Case readings assigned in Part 3, which provide them with an example of a complex, multi-issue project. This will ensure that students are aware of the type of complexity their selected problem should involve.
      • It is for you to decide whether the student can or should present his or her project to the community facing the problem.

It is important that you take the time to review the project proposals with students in the first six weeks of the course and consider students with similar interests forming groups if you have decided to use the group project approach. Requiring students to draft their proposal for your review within the first six weeks of class will allow you time to advise them about their projects, provide the students time for personal independent project research, and, if projects are done by groups, give time for the groups to begin to develop a working relationship. An important reason for giving students the first six weeks to put their proposals together is that they will begin using the Sustainability Strategy Analysis and Application Sheet by the third week of the course.