Capstone Courses and Projects

Citizens Union

New York City's Civil Service System in 2012: Analysis and Recommendations
The New York City civil service system was developed to overcome patronage and corruption that threatened the ability of city governance to effectively and efficiently meet the needs of citizens. Over time, conflict has grown about the best way to execute system goals and to balance the needs of stakeholders. Recent attempts to address inefficiencies in the system have often failed to take into consideration key perspectives and feasibility. The Capstone team researched the history and current state of the civil service system for a report to Citizens Union, a nonpartisan civic organization dedicated to promoting good government and advancing political reform in New York. Through the investigation of best practices in other jurisdictions, the potential impact of existing reform proposals, and the needs of a broad spectrum of city stakeholders, the team developed policy recommendations that seek to overcome polarized politics, maximize feasibility, and promote effectiveness, efficiency, and equity within the city’s civil service system.

United States Environmental Protection Agency

Making the Case for Environmental Sustainability Among Small Businesses
Corporate environmental sustainability has been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a key priority in recent years. Much of the research to date is on the growing success of sustainability measures that have been undertaken by large corporate leaders. The EPA asked the Capstone team to research the existing business case for sustainability and determine how the Agency might help small and mid-sized businesses build sustainable practices into their operations. With this goal in mind, the Capstone team interviewed a range of businesses about their motivations and influences, where they obtain information about sustainability, and how decisions are made. The team also collected information on the unique challenges small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as compared to larger businesses, face in making the case for sustainability. The team analyzed key findings from these interviews to suggest how the EPA can help disseminate information about sustainable business practices among SMEs.