Sustainability Certificate Capstone

A capstone course is required of all sustainability certificate students. Each semester, you will have several capstones from which to choose. All are offered through the Nelson Institute, Environmental Studies 600 (3 credits).

About the capstone experience

The capstone experience is intended to:

In class assignments, you will be asked to reflect on the challenges you face, including anything from assessments of personal learning and growth to accounts of the challenges of accumulating and interpreting data and formulating conclusions. You can expect clear guidance and regular feedback from your instructor.

At the end of the semester, all students enrolled in the capstone take part in the Capstone Showcase Presentation. This is a lively and enjoyable event for all capstone students in the Nelson Institute, scheduled during the exam period for Environmental Studies 600. Refreshments are served!

Fall 2017 Capstone Courses

Section 001

Water in a Changing World

Professor Mutlu Ozdogan
Tuesdays and Thursdays
1:00-2:15 p.m.

Renewable fresh water comprises only a small fraction of global water resources, and the mismatch between the demand and supply is increasing due to climate change and growing human populations. What will the Earth's freshwater resources look like in the next century? This course will examine the hydrologic cycle, its natural and human-induced variability, the hydrologic impacts of human activities, and predicted short- and long-term hydrologic changes and impacts under a changing climate. It will also explore social factors including population pressure on water resources, economic development and water quality/quantity, access to water, and poverty and water. The class will combine lectures and participation by students in collaborative research, classroom presentations, software simulations and visualizations, and extended discussions. Students will be exposed to physical principles of the global water cycle and understand the relationship between humans, climate and water systems, and gain an understanding of the disparate distribution of fresh water resources from a changing climate and socioeconomics.

Section 003

Capstone in Soil and Water Management

Professors Nick Balster and Steve Ventura
Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
12:05-12:55 p.m.
Meets-with Soil Sci 499

Healthy soils play an important role in urban "green infrastructure," helping infiltrate storm water, supporting open space for aesthetics and recreation, providing opportunities for local food production and other ecosystem services. Careful management of soil is critical to sustaining these services, including biophysical, social, and economic management tools. This class will engage in observations and analyses of urban soil characteristics and functions, and provide recommendations for improving the long term stewardship of this valuable resource.

Agronomy 375 Section 001

Special Topics: Systems Thinking

Professor Molly Jahn (and Cathy Middlecamp)
Tuesdays and Thursdays
9:30-10:45 a.m.

Complex systems are at the root of our world's most pressing problems and largest opportunities. This junior/senior capstone seminar will pilot a new systems thinking course to be offered. The course will focus on concepts and practices used to define and analyze systems, providing opportunities for students to build competencies with systems thinking to describe, assess, understand and manage complex systems from local to global scales. The course will consider a range of topics including systems science, complexity and behavior of complex adaptive systems, networks, and patterns of organization. Seminar participants will gain direct experience applying a systems lens as both students and teachers by preparing and presenting a course project on one topic of their choice and working together to develop a syllabus for a large introductory course pilot on systems thinking.

INTEREGR 601 Section 002

Interdisciplinary Design for Energy and Sustainability (IDEAS)

John Murphy (Engineering Physics) and Scott Williams (Wisconsin Energy Institute)
Lecture: 1:00-2:15 p.m., Lecture/Lab: 1:00-3:00 p.m.

Interdisciplinary teams will design a device or system that solves an energy sustainability problem proposed by a real-world client or identified through background research. No previous design experience is necessary, and all majors are welcome. Lectures and labs address energy systems, sustainability in design, working in teams, design process, analysis techniques, and oral and written communication.

More information

Contact Ann Terlaak and use the subject line "INFO REQUEST: SUSTAINABILITY CAPSTONE".