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 2018-2019

Best Paper Award 2018-2019

Exploring Impacts Of Aerial Fumigation On Communities Near Banana Farms In The Province Of Los Rios, Ecuador | 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

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

Capstone Projects 

Christopher Beck. The Institutionalization of Socio-Ecological and Climate Change Resiliency. Client:  RPA

Annel Cabrera, Improving Drinking Water and Sanitation Services in Buenos Aires’ Poor Communities. Client: AySA

Glen Carswell. Adaptation to Water Stress in the Upper East Region of Ghana. Client: RISE Ghana

Jose L. Diaz. Organic Waste Collection – Cypress Hills Brooklyn

Michaela Doughty. Is Rooftop Agriculture in New York City Conducive to Food Justice?

Amanda Eckert. Laudato Si, The Ecological Crisis and Judeo-Christian Intellectual History: The call has been made but where is the flock?

Jessica Hernreich. High and Dry: Colorado’s Water Plan. Client: Colorado Governor’s Office

Erin Horleman. Retrofitting Government Funding: The Failure to Deliver Energy Efficiency to the Urban Poor. Client: El Puente: Leaders for Peace and Justice

Chelsea Hyon. Parley for the Oceans – Social Media Assessment. Client: Parley for the Oceans

Debbie Im. WakaWaka’s Sustainability Roadmap. Client: WakaWaka

Colin Keegan. Feasibility of Distributed Generation in New York State: An Analysis of the East Bronx Healthcare Microgrid. Client: Gotham 360, LLC

Matt Kalick. Impacts of Interactions Between Solar Companies and Utilities. Client: Sunrun

Anna Marandi. Institutionalization at the Local Level: Investigating best practices for institutionalizing resilience offices within the 100 Resilient Cities’ network. Client: 100 Resilient Cities

Laura Marincola. Necessary Political and Economic Framework in Argentina to Make Solar PV Systems Attractive for Organizations

Alexandria McBride. Bridging the Gap: Assessing the Influence of Environment-Based Education on Minority STEM Interest. Client: Barack Obama Green Charter High School

Sarah Milner-Barry. Gender, Climate Change, and Urban Environmental Sustainability in the Developed World. Client: Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO)

Jacqueline Mitchell. Environmental Limitations and Problems of Newark, New Jersey. Client: Newark Environmental Commission

Lindsay O’Neill-Caffrey. A Visual Voice: The Role of Cartography in Understanding Climate Change Vulnerabilities

Danielle Robinson. Measuring Institutional Resilience in Ethiopia

Christine Samwaroo. Analysis of Guyana’s REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF). Client: Guyana Permanent Mission to the United Nations

Amber Sass. California Vineyard Water Usage in Response to the Drought

Annabelle Vinois. Managing New York State’s water resources in the face of uncertainty: a framework to assess the existence of resilient, adaptive water governance at the state level