The capstone is a service project typically undertaken during the senior year of the environmental studies degree. Students in the capstone should also be enrolled in one of the advanced topic courses [atmosphere, water, biodiversity, urbanization]. Recent capstone projects are described below.
Selected Recent Projects
The 2011 Environmental Studies Capstone Class is currently designing a piece of green infrastructure to be installed in the Alumni Parking lot, located adjacent to Sigma Sigma Commons on the West Campus. The purpose of this green infrastructure is to mimic a natural ecosystem using native Ohio plants, along with permeable soil and stone to retain stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff is currently a major regional problem because it causes a surge of pollutants into rivers and streams, contaminating water and damaging fish and wildlife habitats. By retaining stormwater runoff with green infrastructure, the Capstone Class hopes to improve Cincinnati's water quality, add the asthetic value of vegetation to the Alumni Parking lot, and serve as an exemplar for what can be done throughout the campus and broader region.
2009-2010 & 2008-2009: Sustainable Development in Rural India
In collaboration with the Honors Scholars Program and Civil & Environmental Engineering, the topic of the capstone project for the past two years has been on sustainable development in the rural state of Gujarat in India. In partnership with a local nonprofit, the N.M. Sadguru Water Development Foundation, the projects have focused primarily on water quality and rural health and development. Students from varied, multiple disciplines have worked together in teams designing projects to address these primary goals. Over winter break in 2008 and 2009, a subset of the students traveled to India to implement the projects and collect data from three rural villages, including water samples and household surveys. In the winter quarter students have compiled the data and created proposals for the next steps in this continuing partnership with Sadguru. View the project poster.
2007-2008: Climate Commitment: Greenhouse Gas Inventory for the UC campus
In Spring of 2006, then President Zimpher signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment, committing UC to reduce its impact on climate change by reducing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted campus-wide. One of the first steps in the commitment was to conduct a complete inventory of carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions on main campus. Capstone students collected data from all components of university operations from energy use to the commuting patterns of students, faculty and staff. They then used a "Campus Carbon Calculator" developed by the non-profit Clean Air-Cool Planet to determine the overall of the campus.
2004-2006: People, Prosperity & the Planet: Sustainable Design Competition
For two years, in partnership with Civil & Environmental Engineering, we participated in the US Environmental Protection Agency's P3 (People, Prosperity & the Planet) Competition, funded by two grants from EPA to Environmental Studies and Civil & Environmental Engineering. Students from environmental studies and engineering worked on projects to reduce the reliance on the non-renewable resource phosphorus (used in fertilizers and other products) by removing it from wastewater and producing a compound that can be used instead of commercial fertilizer. The focus was on reducing wastewater contamination and enhancing food security in developing nations. Students worked on projects to remove phosphorus from wastewater and conducted greenhouse experiments comparing the growth of agricultural plants using either the recycled phosphorous compound or commercial fertilizers.