Capstone Courses and Projects
Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
During the past twenty years, Southeast Asia has witnessed a great push towards decentralization and increased responsibilities for subnational governments. Among these responsibilities, financing urban infrastructure poses some of the greatest challenges. The Capstone team focused on the financing of urban service delivery in Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam, three countries which are at various levels of decentralization and all of which face considerable infrastructure finance challenges. The team developed a framework to assess infrastructure finance systems and applied it to the three countries. The team identified common and unique experiences and issues, as well as highlighted innovative or successful practices that could be applicable in other countries. The factors underlying the better practices are documented to the extent possible, and their potential relevance for broader application is considered.
Municipal Development Partnership of East and Southern Africa
The Government of Uganda began a rapid decentralization process in the early 1990s, devolving service delivery responsibility to Local Governments in an attempt to reduce poverty under the national development framework. The devolution of responsibility later spurred the adoption of the Fiscal Decentralization Strategy (FDS), which seeks to strengthen the ability of Local Governments to achieve the goals of decentralization by strengthening local capacities and support mechanisms. Using the FDS as a benchmark, this project examined the level of de facto fiscal discretion at the local level. Based on fieldwork conducted in three Local Government Districts of Uganda - Kampala, Wakiso, and Kanungu - the Capstone team examined the level to which FDS policies are achieving successful outcomes in practice. The project highlighted some current successes, shortcomings, and constraints to local autonomy within these three Districts, and provided recommendations for next steps and future studies.
United Nations Capital Development Fund
The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) contributes to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in Least Developed Countries through a variety of innovative approaches that include both local development and microfinance. UNCDF does not have a current Knowledge Management (KM) strategy to disseminate its knowledge throughout the world. The Capstone team worked with UNCDF to develop a KM culture map and formulate a best practices KM framework that promotes continual organizational learning and identifies innovative ways to disseminate knowledge. The team conducted extensive research to identify best practices, lessons learned, and relevant KM products and processes. Furthermore, the Capstone team assisted UNCDF with developing a survey and interviewing some of the organization's key staff to analyze current KM practices and identify gaps. With the completion of the data analysis, the Capstone team produced a report comprised of background information, findings, and recommendations for the immediate implementation of a UNCDF KM strategy.
United Nations Capital Development Fund
The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), in collaboration with the government of Nicaragua and the Nicaraguan Institute of Municipal Development (INIFOM), established the Fondo de Inversi?n para el Desarollo Econ?mico Local (FIDEL) in 2008. Its mandate is to promote food security in communities with high or extreme poverty. The Capstone team observed how these funds were used in two municipalities, Morrito and San Miguelito. Over a ten day period, the Capstone team conducted interviews with local municipal authorities, program beneficiaries, and representatives of Nicaraguan central government agencies. The team pursued two primary lines of investigation related to local economic development: municipal level capacity (institutional, technical, financial) for strategic planning; and the process employed by INIFOM to generate investment projects and ensure sustainable projects that address community needs.
United Nations Capital Development Fund
The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) has taken the lead on developing a Global Forum on Local Development, which is expected to be held in Africa in October 2010. This international event is intended to trigger a series of concrete activities designed to improve decentralization in interested countries. The Capstone team conducted two principal tasks. First, the team prepared case studies on decentralization in a set of countries of interest, including Cambodia, Egypt, Guatemala, and Uganda. Second, the team helped to gather and compile materials to assist with the development of more comprehensive and integrated diagnostic tools for assessing the state of the evolution of a local government system and the dynamics that have shaped it. These tasks are intended to help the UNCDF develop a variety of practical assessment tools that could assist with the design and implementation of policies and programs that improve decentralization and the attainment of the various potential benefits associated with it in specific countries.
United Nations Development Programme and the Government of Egypt, Ministry of Local Development
The Government of Egypt's Ministry of Local Development created a National Strategy for Decentralization, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to empower local levels of government. The Capstone team performed a baseline study and preliminary evaluation of local development and administration reforms to date. Field research included visiting four governorates - Fayoum, Behera, Ismailia, and Luxor - to perform interviews with officials from various levels of local government, including the governors of Behera and Luxor. While in the field, the Capstone team collected information on the progress, performance, successes, and challenges faced by local officials during the implementation of local development planning and administration processes. Upon returning, the Capstone team conducted an analysis of local government performance, including a comparative review of normative approaches to decentralization and local development, and also produced several recommendations to improve and strengthen the current program.
World Institute for Leadership and Management in Africa
The World Institute of Leadership and Management in Africa (WILMA) endeavors to promote development in Africa by increasing the capacity of local leadership for entrepreneurial and community projects. The Capstone team analyzed the feasibility of an educational program to develop future business leaders in Tanzania. The proposal linked students from Dar es Salaam University to existing community ventures in order to provide an experiential learning opportunity for students and local economic growth. The Capstone team visited stakeholders and explored the possibilities of various community association projects. The final report included a feasibility study, case study analysis, best practices, and recommendations for next steps.
Global Relief Technologies
On January 12, 2010, an earthquake measuring 7.0 on the Richter scale hit the small island nation of Haiti, destroying nearly all of the nation's infrastructure and resulting in one of the largest humanitarian emergencies in the past 20 years. Almost immediately, international relief organizations began deploying staff and volunteers to provide assistance, but they soon found themselves hampered by difficulties in getting information from the field to headquarters (HQ) world-wide. Global Relief Technologies (GRT) is at the forefront of improving field-to-HQ communication and information transfer using information technology (IT). The Capstone team was commissioned to write a "Best Practices" guide for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) organizations, to help them develop the most efficient ways of getting necessary data from the field to their home offices. Utilizing interviews with operations and IT staff at various types of HADR organizations (multinational, military, non-governmental), the Capstone team focused on the best ways to support IT in extreme environments and how organizations can train their staff efficiently and effectively in new applications before and during response operations.
Maisha Film Lab
Maisha Film Lab empowers East African filmmakers to articulate their visions by providing them with access to world-class film training. Over the past five years, more than 250 East African filmmakers have participated in Maisha's intensive film labs, taught by prominent international filmmakers. Looking to the future, Maisha feels confident in its ability to train filmmakers, but wonders if it is meeting its broader goal to plant the seeds of a self-sustaining film industry. To help Maisha evaluate its relevance, the Capstone team interviewed nearly 100 Maisha alumni and studied the impact of Maisha's programs on each participant's career. Interviews with Maisha lab mentors, leaders of the East African film industry, and Maisha staff - including its founder, Mira Nair - provided context for the evaluation. By comparing organizational goals to actual outcomes, the Capstone report shed light on Maisha's strengths and weaknesses, and provided recommendations as to how Maisha can better meet the needs of the East African film industry.
Radio La Benevolencija
Radio La Benevolencija is a Dutch NGO that uses entertainment education programming, events, and grassroots activities to encourage people to become active bystanders against incitement to hate violence. Currently operating in Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Benevolencija requested a Capstone team to devise an easy applicable evaluation model that the organization could use to continuously assess its impact. The Capstone team piloted an innovative evaluation survey methodology, one that had never before been employed in Africa. This methodology relied on a prerecorded audio survey form, played on portable CD players to a random sample that measured respondents' understanding of and assimilation to La Benevolencija's messages on a range of interim impact indicators. After conducting field work in Rwanda in January 2010, the Capstone team reported its findings and detailed how to employ this pioneering data collection model in existing and future Benevolencija projects.
Catholic Medical Mission Board
The Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB) is a U.S.-based Catholic charity established in 1928 that focuses exclusively on global healthcare. The Capstone team assessed opportunities for growth and improvement of CMMB's Healing Help medical donations program. To reach this goal, the team designed a survey to assess absorption capacity and needs of CMMB donation recipients and tested the survey with partners in Nicaragua. Findings were compiled into a Nicaragua Case Study that highlights successes and limitations of CMMB's donation work. The team also completed a more comprehensive report on the Healing Help program. Additionally, an online version of the survey was created and sent to key partners in Peru, Southern Sudan, Zambia and Kenya. Findings were used to improve the survey for CMMB to further utilize and disseminate more broadly as an industry standard impact assessment tool for donation programs worldwide.
Corporate Council on Africa
The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) is a membership organization for U.S.-based companies and organizations with commercial interests in Africa. The Capstone project involved a review of CCA corporate members' health programs for African workforces, and consisted of a literature review of global best practices in workforce health for developing countries with special attention to monitoring and evaluation, a broad survey distributed to all members, and in-depth interviews with a subset of members. Organized into a map of members' strategies and a small collection of case studies, this research will help CCA to better understand its members' current efforts in workforce health and to disseminate lessons learned during the development and implementation of some well-established programs. Additionally, CCA can use the framework and survey developed for this project in the future to update the mapping of their members' programs.
Committed to serving the poor and underserved, HOPE Worldwide is a nonprofit organization that has been managing the Sihanouk Hospital Center of HOPE (SHCH) in Cambodia since the hospital's inception in 1996. SHCH provides free health care services, clinical training to health care professionals, and has served over one million patients thus far. Due to the lack of sustainable funding streams, the organization has faced challenges with its organizational development and with achieving successful global awareness of its health care delivery model. HOPE Worldwide sought to identify ways in which SHCH could improve its visibility and expand its services. To address these issues, the Capstone team conducted a baseline organizational evaluation, which included assessing the awareness of the hospital, its quality, and potential to expand. Based on the findings, the team prepared a case study and an internal organizational report highlighting the organization's current standing and options for further development.
Real Medicine Foundation, India
As of 2009, over 60 million children under the age of five are diagnosed with malnutrition in India. The state of Madhya Pradesh has the country's highest malnutrition burden, with 60% of its children under five malnourished. The Real Medicine Foundation addresses this issue with the project "Eradicate Malnutrition" that focuses on identification, treatment and prevention. RMF requested a Capstone team to conduct field visits to provide a comparative analysis of the local clinic (Anganwadi) and government run nutritional rehabilitation centers. The team presented RMF with a catalog of nutrition programs focused on children under the age of five, providing them with a broader understanding of approaches improving nutrition. The final report includes an analysis of field data, a nutritional catalog, a working document for inclusion in baseline assessment surveys, and potential next steps.
National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Nigeria
The National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM) is a government agency charged with the care and preservation of Nigeria's cultural antiquities. Among its many responsibilities is the management of 34 national museums located throughout Nigeria. Following a series of large-scale international loans, the Director of Museums requested a Capstone team to provide recommendations for improving lending and borrowing policies. This review took the form of a gap analysis that compares current policies with internationally accepted best practices. Upon discovering that a comprehensive lending and borrowing policy should include additional material, the scope of the review was expanded to include risk management, data management and documentation, and marketing and communications. The recommendations highlighted in the final report provide a framework for the NCMM to improve current practices and ensure continued care and accessibility of its remarkable collection.
World Bank Group
The World Bank Group has historically demonstrated its strategic advantage in managing large development projects. The climate change crisis requires significant international coordination and funding for countries' efforts in the areas of adaptation, mitigation, finance, and technology. Dependent on the outcomes of this year's COP15 Conference, the UN System may be mandated to manage part of the funds and implement projects. In order to ensure greatest efficiency and positive impact, it is necessary to better understand the strengths, challenges, and gaps in how current projects are implemented. The Capstone team first developed an understanding of these organizations' internally generated fiscal, operational, and implementations standards for projects. The team then conducted field research on World Bank and UN-affiliated projects to collectively grasp the on the ground reality of climate change project implementation, studying the complementary programs as well as tensions revealed in terms of underlying gaps in some of the organizations' distributive and managerial capacities. From the findings, the team developed specific recommendations for the client and partner organizations.
World Learning, Community Connections Program
To improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the Community Connections program, World Learning, a global nonprofit providing international educational programs, engaged a Capstone team to conduct a program evaluation. Community Connections provides intensive three week professional trainings in a variety of sectors offering participants an opportunity to learn both about their professional field and US culture. The program aims to promote public diplomacy and development in 13 Eurasian countries. The Capstone team evaluated Community Connections on multiple levels including the homestay experience, professional development sessions, and the use of information technology. Through research instruments, such as interviews, onsite observations, participant observations, and homestay family surveys, the team gathered data and analyzed Community Connections. The team provided conclusions and recommendations to World Learning in order to build on their current successes of the program.
World Learning, Global Undergraduate Exchange Program
The Capstone team conducted an independent evaluation of the impact of World Learning's Global Undergraduate Global (UGRAD) Exchange Program for East Asia and the Pacific and the Western Hemisphere on its alumni. The team created an evaluation toolkit and employed two of the tools to survey and interview the program's alumni. The evaluation revealed the alumni's perceptions of how the program affected their English language skills, academic and career goals, and community service, as well as their attitudes about gender equality, diversity, civil participation, and the United States. It also uncovered their thoughts on how the program has changed their lives. Additionally, the Capstone team conducted a field scan of competitors. The data from the evaluation and the field scan informed the team's recommendations for ways to improve Global UGRAD's policies and methodologies so that the impact of the program can increase.