WASHINGTON, D.C.—April 3, 2018—In January, three University of Wisconsin Sustainable Management alumni traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the 2018 National Center for Science Education (NCSE) conference. The alumni shared how capstone projects teach our online students valuable hands-on skills.
Deidre Schwartz, MS, Kristi Heintz, MS, and Sarah Voska, BS, shared posters about their capstone projects with educators, scientists and business leaders from around the globe. The goal of NCSE is “to advance informed environmental policy and decision-making through science.” More than 500 people attended the conference. The theme of this year’s event was “building resilience in a changing world.” Speakers included Barbara Hendrie, North America Director of the United Nations Environment Program; U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and The New York Times Associate Editor Robert B. Semple, Jr.
Crystal Fey, senior program manager for UW Sustainable Management, led the contingent of students. Said Fey, “For each capstone project, online students ranging in age from 24 to 60, faculty from six partner UW campuses, and our industry advisory board all come together to address a community challenge. As a result, hundreds of communities—both in the U.S. and internationally—have benefited from our holistic approach to people, planet, and profit.”
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Students Benefit from Conference
Said Schwartz, “The attendees were quite engaged in and inquisitive about the nature of our capstones. I have since connected with many of them on LinkedIn.”
Voska added, “I felt empowered when I got to discuss my research and the work I had done as on online student, and it was really exciting to be able to share how the UW Sustainable Management program has facilitated a lot of great work across all capstone projects.”
“I’d like to share that I was genuinely proud to represent this program, said Heintz. “It wasn’t until I went to this conference with national science professionals, leading educators and policy experts that I came to realize just how unique and innovative our interdisciplinary program really is. Now more than ever, this collaboration across disciplines and roles is critical.”
Below is a summary of each student’s capstone project.
DATA COLLECTION STRATEGY
Local Sustainability Assessment and Reporting for the Twin Ports Area in Duluth, Minnesota
Kristi Heintz, MS
Problem: How to collaboratively identify and collect sustainability metrics that will help drive transformative and collaborative change in the Twin Ports area.
Stakeholders: Sustainable Twin Ports is a nonprofit dedicated to balancing the economic, social and environmental needs of the area which includes several thousand businesses and organizations in Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin.
- A literature review narrows the metrics selection to the Future Fit Goals framework.
- 111 Sustainable Twin Ports organizations surveyed for both objective and subjective feedback about the framework.
Outcome: The analysis reveals that the majority of respondents perceived value in the metrics framework. The new framework would be flexible for many organizations, leading to meaningful data points that can drive conversations of change and transparency.
CHANGE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY
The Business Case for Top Level Sustainability Leadership in Organizations
Deidre Schwartz, MS
Problem: How to help organizations effectively transition to a culture of sustainability.
Stakeholders: Customers, employees, suppliers, community, owners, shareholders, and competitors.
Study the path of companies on their journey toward building a sustainability culture through both quantitative and qualitative analysis.
- 71 surveys returned from professional groups on LinkedIn such as Sustainability Professionals, Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development, and Supply Chain Forum.
- Interviews with leadership at four companies: Avendra, LLC, Interface, Marriott International, and W.W. Grainger, Inc.
The degree to which sustainability is integrated into the mission, vision and values of the organization, starting with the highest levels of leadership, is the degree to which the transition will be successful.
A Guide for Youth Environmentalists
Sarah Voska, BS
Problem: How to engage youth in climate activism.
Stakeholders: International Youth Climate Movement and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
- Analysis of successful strategic campaigns on how to spur activism through communication, analysis of how to best utilize limited resources through SMART goals and strategic planning guidelines.
- Observational data, and research from the fields of sustainability psychology, marketing, strategic management, and education.
Outcome: A guidebook that addresses the topic of youth engagement strategies for environmental activists.