EPSM Graduate Capstone Projects

Advanced Seminar in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management (EPSM)

The Advanced Seminar provides students a capstone experience, typically during the final semester of enrollment in the EPSM Program. The purpose of the seminar is to provide students a culminating, research-based experience through an individual research project and to afford the opportunity to each student to reflect upon and discuss the curricular and extra-curricular dimensions of their graduate education in a manner that encourages an integrative approach to that experience.

Capstone Projects 2019-2020

Best Professional Decision Report (PDR)

“Insights From Behavioral Sciences for Moving Towards Sustainable Forest Management in New York | By Koorosh Behrang | Client: The Nature Conservancy
Most of the forestlands in New York State are privately owned. Of all the forestlands in the state, 76% are under private ownership and 62% of this is under the ownership of families, individuals, family partnerships, and trusts. Safeguarding these lands is vital to maintaining sustainable forests and ecosystem services. Globally there is evidence of increasingly rapid forest degradation. To date, various programs have been launched to promote sustainable forestry in New York State, however, these programs have largely failed to promote sustainable forestry among private owners. The adoption of more sustainable forest management practices among private owners can be improved by considering lessons from the behavioral sciences. This includes consideration of  owners’ different personal and social characteristics which can influence their perceptions of and engagement with sustainable forestry practices. This study aims to bring valuable insights from behavioral and social sciences into forestry practices by expanding our understanding of how the personal, social, and cultural traits of forest landowners can affect their land use decisions. Behavioral sciences shed light on important elements that shape decision making and action such as: cognitive biases, emotions, social constructs, and the context of decision-making. The tools of behavioral sciences have been successfully used in shaping public policies by designing a choice environment to facilitate desired behavior in easy and cost-effective ways. These tools can be adapted to shape outreach with private forestland owners in New York State to increase their adoption of sustainable forestry management practices.

Best Paper of Publishable Quality (PPQ)

Climate Task Force & Resource Hub: Co-Design Model For Student Led Collaborations | By Christian David Tandazo
The increasing severity of climate-related disaster events and the inadequacy with which they are being handled has given rise to youth-led climate activism. Youth in the United States, and around the globe, have begun to organize around causes they believe in, most recently the Global Climate Strike on September 20th, 2019 (McNulty, 2019), which drew more than 4 million people worldwide with over 2,500 events scheduled in over 163 countries on all seven continents (Barclay, E. and Resnick, B., 2019). At The New School, students have established Sunrise Movement and Extinction Rebellion chapters on campus, two prominent climate justice movements. Simultaneously, Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) students have founded student organizations to address the climate crisis while centering the perspectives and voices of BIPOC students in the environmental justice movement.

This study examines the processes, limitations, and approaches to establishing a student-led Climate Task Force initiative at The New School. The aim of the initiative is to co-develop, co-design, and co-produce the Climate Resource Hub, an online climate resource platform. The purpose of the platform is to serve The New School community and support student-led organizing efforts towards climate and environmental justice. The goal is to sustain the online platform as a dynamic space to collect and disseminate critical information about climate and environmental justice related topics. This study establishes a framework model for how such a platform and collaboration can be implemented and sustained over time at an institution of higher education like The New School.

Read about all the Fall 2019-Spring 2020 Capstone Projects 

Capstone Projects 2018-2019

Best Paper Award 2018-2019

Exploring Impacts Of Aerial Fumigation On Communities Near Banana Farms In The Province Of Los Rios, Ecuador | By Maria Cristina Coello
Ecuador is the top exporting country of bananas in the world. The banana industry plays a significant role in the economy of the country, representing $3.102,8 USD FOB (free on board) millions of dollars and employs around 2.5 million Ecuadorians, directly and indirectly. Banana production methods for exportation are associated with an extensive use of agrochemicals throughout the supply chain. Aerial fumigation is a conventional practice performed with agrochemicals to control pests and diseases in large banana monoculture which requires numerous applications of pesticides per year. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has broadly recognized the need for urgent action to address the use of agrochemicals in the banana production process as it imposes several environmental and social problems worldwide. This research explores the impacts of aerial pesticide applications on communities who are in residential proximity to banana plantations in the Province of Los Rios, Ecuador. By analyzing quantitative data, official documents from government departments and databases, it was possible to identify four rural communities with precedents of improper aerial fumigation practices in their territory, plus the scope of the banana sector in the province. Qualitative data was gathered through in depth, semi-structured interviews of stakeholders with knowledge of the complexities of social and institutional interaction surrounding this productive sector. The economic role of the banana industry is of vital importance to the province, in particular as a source of employment and rural development. Notwithstanding, the well-being and the role of communities who are in residential proximity to banana plantations ought to be acknowledged, represented and treated for potential risks due to aerial fumigation practices.

Read about all the Fall 2018-Spring 2019 Capstone Projects 

Capstone Projects 2017-2018

Best Paper Award 2017-2018

Aligning Food Justice Priorities In New York City Greenmarkets: An Analysis of EBT Spending And Land Management Practices Of Regional Producers | By Cecilia Depman | Client: GrowNYC
Federal nutrition programs play a pivotal role in improving food access in urban landscapes. The use of these programs at farmers markets has increased in recent years due to the proliferation of farmers’ markets across the United States alongside an increase in their capacity to redeem Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT). Research on this topic has focused on the efficacy of farmers’ markets, through their participation in EBT, to provide low-income consumers greater access to locally grown food and simultaneously promote regional food producers. While existing literature establishes the relationship between urban and rural food security, it largely falls short of exploring its contribution to sustainable farming practices more generally. This research attempts to look both at the economic and environmental implications of this trend by analyzing the land management practices of the producers who benefit from EBT spending at Greenmarkets in NYC. The results suggest that differences in EBT spending occur between different types and sizes of producers. Through a focus on land-based producers selling fruits and vegetables, the analysis also finds that land management practices are not a strong determinant of EBT spending but are critical to increasing sales for small and medium sized farms in the Northeastern United States. This research contributes to our understanding of the degree to which federal entitlement dollars promote sustainable land management, by aligning the interests of small and sustainable regional farmers with the interests of low-income consumers and unifying the diverse priorities of the contemporary local food movement.

Read about all the Fall 2017-Spring 2018 Capstone Projects 

Capstone Projects 2016-2017

Best Paper Award 2016-2017
The Relationship Between International Oil Prices & Local Retail Prices: A Time Series Analysis of Asymmetrical Adjustment By Thetis Skondra
The link between the international oil prices and the local retail price attracts international attention. Many economists argue that oil companies rush to increase oil prices in local markets whenever there is an increase in prices at the international scale, but do not adapt with the same ease to any international decrease in prices. This phenomenon is known as the “asymmetrical adjustment” of local oil prices to the international oil and gasoline prices and has been of central interest to research on oil pricing practices. Some of the findings from these studies seem to align with the argument of “asymmetrical adjustments” and others reject it. This essay applies time series analyses, as has been recommended by current literature, to examine this phenomenon in various European countries. The results of my analysis verifies that changes in international oil and gasoline prices influence the rise in local prices with a considerable time delay. However, there is no strong indication of the “asymmetrical adjustment” phenomenon. The estimations do indicate quicker adjustment of the local price after a rise in international oil and gasoline prices and a slower adjustment period when international oil and gasoline prices decrease. However, the difference is not statistically significant and does not have significant economic effects on local economies. The lack of indications of “asymmetrical adjustments” in pricing does not, however, guarantee a desirable form of competition in the global and local market.

Read about all the Spring 2017 Capstone Projects and Fall 2016 Capstone Projects 

Capstone Projects 2015-2016

Best Paper Award 2015-2016

Long-term Affordability for Water and Housing: A Case Study in Affordable Housing and Water Tariffs for New York City | By Charlotte Belle