Capstone Expo Highlights 79 Consulting and Research Projects in Public Service
The 2016 Capstone Expo brought hundreds of students, professors, and organizational leaders to the Rosenthal Pavilion in NYU’s Kimmel Center for University Life, where soon-to-graduate NYU Wagner students displayed a total of 79 poster-board summaries of their year-end Capstone consulting and research projects, and toasted their achievements at an honorary reception.
The Capstone Program is a valuable service that NYU Wagner proudly offers to the city, the region, and the world. It is the centerpiece of students’ graduate education, where they translate their classroom learning into practice. Capstone teams have spent the academic year addressing challenges and identifying opportunities for clients in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors.
The Expo displayed the high-level public service work in research, management and implementation that the 79 teams conducted for a diverse range of clients, such as
Johnson & Johnson, the New York City Department of Education, the United Nations Capital Development Fund, and Episcopal Charities of the Diocese of New York.
For Enterprise Community Partners, for example, a Capstone team worked on issues of housing insecurity for the aged. For the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, another team analyzed the potential for agency participation in a carbon-avoidance market. And for the World Bank's Urban Division, Bangladesh, still another Capstone group worked on a capital investment plan and loan program for cities in developing countries.
The NYU Wagner Capstone Program was supported this year by FJC: A Foundation of Philanthropic Funds.
Capstone Projects Exhibited at Lively NYU Wagner Expo
NYU Wagner graduate students exhibited the findings of their 2015 Capstone team consultancy and research projects at a highly enthusiastic, dynamic expo that brought together hundreds of alumni, faculty, public service managers, and policymakers at the Kimmel Center for University Life on May 12.
Eighty-nine Capstone efforts, each tackling a critical challenge faced by a nonprofit, public, or private sector organization, were unveiled, their authors using laptops, full-color poster boards, and carefully sifted data to explain the impact of their projects for their client agency and the public at large.
The year’s work of the MPA and MUP students delved into complex questions of management, finance, policy, health care, urban planning, and applied research in local, domestic, and international realms.
Among the organizational clients served by the Capstone teams were: God’s Love We Deliver, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the China Center for Urban Development, Impact Hub Mexico City, Chevron Liberia, the World Bank South Asia Urban Sector, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, the City of Long Beach, N.Y., and numerous others.
For the nonprofit God’s Love We Deliver, the Capstone team identified growth potential and service gaps for New York City area food and nutrition service. For the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a team explored ways to improve internal workflow process and response rates. In Long Beach, a community hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, a team worked on developing an integrated transportation plan. The impact of Chevron Liberia’s social investment program was still another team’s focus.
Capstone, a requirement of the Master of Public Administration and Master of Urban Planning programs at NYU Wagner, provides students with both a critical learning experience and an opportunity to perform a public service. Over the course of an academic year, students in Capstone work in teams with faculty oversight to address challenges and identify opportunities for a client organization or to conduct research on a pressing social question.
Capstone projects require students to get up-to-speed quickly on a specific content or issue area; enhance key process skills such as project management and teamwork; and develop competency in gathering, analyzing, and reporting out on data. For students, it's an opportunity to apply their classroom learning in real time to unpredictable, complex, real-world situations.
The Capstone Program was originally funded with a generous grant from the Ford Foundation in 1995. Since then, more than 5,200 students have completed nearly 1,200 projects for more than 800 organizations. FJC: A Foundation of Philanthropic Funds provided generous financial support for this year's Capstone Program.
Comptroller: NYC Can Ride out Economic Turbulence
"The events of the last few days," New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. began in an appearance September 17 at NYU Wagner, "have been astonishing."
Speaking at a morning briefing co-sponsored by the Wagner School of Public Service and the Citizens Union, Thompson said that New York City can ride out rough turbulence affecting the economy with the same resolve and resiliency it showed more than 30 years ago during a brush with municipal bankruptcy, and in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.
"With every downturn New Yorkers have encountered, our city has rebounded stronger than before," the two-term comptroller said at the briefing session co-sponsored by the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and the Citizens Union. "That is the spirit of New York. We are fighters. We are resilient. We are innovators."
Thompson spoke only hours after the Federal Reserve had worked out an unparalleled $85 billion rescue of American International Group, the latest dramatic development in the financial crisis involving mortgage-related assets. "Uncertainty is in the air," he said.
In his hour-long talk, Thompson sought to ensure city retirees and others that the city's pension funds are secure and are cushioned against by ups and downs in the financial markets.
"As Comptroller," he said, "I'm the chief investment adviser to our city's pension plans, and it's important to me to assure the retirees that the pensions are safe and secure. We've been reducing our exposure to risk by diversifying our portfolio beyond stocks and bonds. This approach is helping us weather these tough times better than we would have ever before."
Thompson also underscored his opposition to an effort by the City Council to extend, from two to three, the number of terms that a city official can serve. Thompson is contemplating a run for mayor next year to succeed Michael Bloomberg.
"The people have said that there are two terms," he said. "To undermine their will, to do an end-run around democracy is just wrong."
The breakfast briefing was part of an NYU Wagner/Citizens Union series that will pick up again on October 7 with a visit by Eric Gioia, two-term member of the City Council from Woodside, Queens.
On November 12, Scott Stringer, the Manhattan Borough President, who is also looking to succeed Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, will be the featured guest of the breakfast series.
Last spring, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn and John Liu, councilman from Flushing, Queens, who is a prospective candidate for the public advocate's post, also appeared at Wagner as part of the series.