Capstone Project

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The capstone project is designed so that students gain practical professional experience in the field of economic development and innovation. The milestone will normally be met by completing one of the three options below.


A 4-month internship with an external organization related to economic development and innovation. Positions must be approved by the program prior to the start date. At the end of the internship, students must complete a final report describing the activities they undertook and the lessons learned in relation to published literature.

Our students find internships related to economic development and innovation in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors in Canada and globally. Examples of recent intern positions are listed below:

Local and regional government and agencies


  • Burlington Economic Development Corporation
  • City of Brantford Economic Development Department
  • City of Kitchener
  • London Economic Development Corporation
  • City of Mississauga Economic Development Department
  • City of Toronto Economic Development Corporation
  • City of Vaughan Economic Development Department
  • City of Waterloo
  • County of Perth Economic Development Office
  • Downtown London
  • Centre for Business and Economic Development, Collingwood
  • Niagara Tourism and Development Corporation
  • Parry Sound Area Economic Development Commission
  • St. Thomas District Chamber of Commerce
  • Town of Grand Bend
  • Town of Leamington
  • Town of Markham Economic Development Department
  • Town of Meaford
  • Town of Oakville, Economic Development Department
  • Venture Centre, Timmins
  • Waterloo Regional Tourism Marketing Corporation
  • Windsor-Essex Economic Development Department

Outside Ontario:

  • White Bay Central Development Authority, Main Brook, Newfoundland
  • Vibrant Abbotsford, Abbotsford, British Columbia
  • Regional Council, Kalmar County, Kalmar, Sweden
  • North East Enterprise Region Inc., Saskatchewan
  • City of Airdrie, Alberta

Senior government/international


  • FedDev Ontario, Stratford, Ontario and Kitchener
  • Industry Canada, FedNor, Stratford
  • Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade
  • Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), Guelph
  • Service Canada -Labour Market and Social Development

Outside Ontario:

  • Green Stone Community Futures, Manitoba
  • Innovative Community Futures, Port Aux Basques, Newfoundland
  • Centre for Energy Environment Resources Development, Bangkok, Thailand
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Geneva, Switzerland

Private sector


  • BC Hughes Inc., Tourism Development, Management and Marketing
  • Cadastre Maintenance, Toronto
  • Cynerlogic, Toronto
  • Deloitte and Touche Management Consultants, Guelph
  • Machteld, Faas and Xander, Kitchener
  • Malone Given Parsons Ltd., Markham
  • Millier Dickinson Blais Inc., Hamilton and Toronto
  • Stamm Associates, Business Development Consultants
  • Yfactor Inc.

Outside Ontairo:

  • Han Chien Investment Ltd., Richmond, BC
  • Petroleos Mexicanos (PEMEX)



  • North House Transitional Housing, North Durham
  • Waterloo Region Food System Roundtable
  • Youth Social Infrastructure Collaborative
  • Toronto West Local Immigration Partnership

Outside Ontario:

  • Aliança Cooperativa Do Amido, Brazil
  • Spark, Amsterdam
  • Local Economic Development Lab, Vancouver
  • World Class Cities Partnership, Boston, MA

Applied Research Project (ARP)

An applied research project with an external organization focused on an issue related to economic development or innovation. The research project would normally be completed in 4-months and involves the student working closely with an outside organization (ideally on site) to answer a defined research problem. Students are required to complete a research paper discussing the research they undertook and the lessons learned in relation to published literature.


Tara Vinodrai, Riaz Nathu, Scott Ross, Emily Robson, Steffanie Scott, Paul Parker. 2012. Taking regional action? Understanding networks in the local food, green energy & creative sectors in Waterloo region. A research paper prepared for the Economic Developers Council of Ontario. Toronto: EDCO.

Major Research Paper (MRP)

Students with strong research interests may complete a major research paper to achieve this degree milestone. The MRP would focus on an issue related to economic development or innovation and be completed under the supervision of a faculty member associated with the MEDI program. Students must obtain approval from the program administrator if they wish to pursue this option.

The major research paper will examine a significant topic in the local economic development field, and typically involves some original data collection and analysis.

Proposals are developed in fall and winter term. It is highly recommended that students identify a potential supervisor early and include them in the proposal process. Once you identify a supervisor, you will complete the 'change of supervisor' form, supplied by the MEDI Graduate Program Coordinator. Students are encouraged to continue to develop their literature review through the Winter term. Some students complete the MRP during the Spring term of their first year, while others continue to work on the paper during the fourth term of enrolment in the program.

The paper should be a minimum of 60 pages in length (excluding front matter, references, and appendices) and include:

  • problem statement
  • status of research
  • research procedures
  • findings, and
  • conclusions

Ethics clearance, through the Office of Research Ethics, is required for research involving human participants. Ethics clearance is necessary prior to recruiting participants for studies.

Examination Committee

The Examination Committee is comprised of:

  1. the supervisor
  2. a reader


All students must complete their major research paper under the supervision of an supervisor. The supervisor should be a faculty member, who has a regular appointment in the Faculty of Environment.


The reader must have an arm’s length relationship to the student’s research and only becomes involved in reading and commenting on the MRP at the defense. Their role is to provide an external perspective on the research.

The reader is selected by the supervisor when the student is ready to defend their MRP. Normally, the reader will have two weeks to review the final document.

Defense procedure

The supervisor and student should be in agreement that the MRP draft has been sufficiently revised and is ready for defense before a defense date is scheduled.

The research paper must be defended successfully before the Examination Committee.

  1. Once the student and supervisor have determined that the MRP is ready for defence, the student submits the complete copy electronically to the MEDI Graduate Program Coordinator at least 2 weeks before the defense date. The supervisor and reader each receive an electronic copy.
  2. The supervisor will schedule the defence, ensuring that the reader is available, and notify the program administrator of the date and time of the defence. The date of the defence should be scheduled at a minimum of 2 weeks after the date that the student has submitted the MRP to the MEDI Graduate Program Coordinator to ensure that the Reader has sufficient time to read the MRP prior to the defence.
  3. The MEDI Graduate Program Coordinator will book a room for the defence. Any equipment required by the student (data projector, lap top, etc.) should be booked by the student through the Mapping, Analysis and Design (MAD).
  4. Having received the defence copy of the MRP, the Examination Committee, and a mutually agreeable date, the program administrator will prepare a Notice of Defence, and submit this for signature to the Associate Director, Graduate Studies. The Notice of Defence is distributed throughout the Faculty of Environment and posted on the bulletin board outside EV3 and circulated to electronically to Environment students.
  5. The student is responsible for checking with the Examination Committee to determine whether hard copies of the MRP are required.
  6. Prior to convocation, please make sure to follow the convocation checklist for information about verifying your address, renting your gown, etc.

  7. Once the Notice of Defence has been distributed, a defence report will be prepared for the supervisor for completion after the defence. If changes to the MRP are required, the deadline for completion of the changes should be indicated on the report and who will approve the changes. The completed defence report (including all Examination Committee member signatures) must be returned to the MEDI Graduate Program Coordinator following the defence.
  8. If the outcome of the defence is “Accepted,” or once any required changes have been completed and approved by the supervisor, the supervisor will notify the program administrator that the changes have been made, and the MEDI Graduate Program Coordinator will prepare a Research Paper Acceptance form for the Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs Office as proof that the MRP has been completed, defended and deemed acceptable. The designation CR will then be recorded on the student’s unofficial transcript beside the MRP milestone.
  9. For the defence itself the candidate should prepare a presentation of 20-30 minutes, outlining a summary of the Research Paper research, methodology, outcomes, and conclusions, as appropriate. A question period follows the presentation, with questions posed by the committee and supervisor and then by members of the audience. After the question period, the student and the audience will be asked to leave the room while the Examination Committee determines the research paper defence decision. Defence categories used in the Faculty of Environment are outlined below. The decision of the committee is indicated on the Research Paper Report, which is to be completed by the supervisor and returned to the program administrator for retention in the student’s file. The possible defence decisions are:
    • Accepted: Research paper may require typographical and/or minor editorial corrections to be made to the satisfaction of the supervisor (see bold type below).
    • Accepted with Minor Modifications: Research paper requires minor changes in substance or major editorial changes which are to be made to the satisfaction of members of the Examining Committee designated by the Committee. Normally such changes should be completed within 4 weeks of the date of the examination.
    • Accepted with Major Modifications: Research paper requires more substantive changes but will be accepted when these changes are made. Changes are to be made to the satisfaction of those members of the Examining committee designated by the Committee. The Examining Committee's report must include a brief outline of the nature of the changes required and the date by which the changes are to be completed.
    • Decision Deferred: Research paper requires modifications of a substantial nature, which make the acceptability of the research paper questionable. The Examining Committee’s report must contain a brief outline of the modifications expected and should indicate the time by which the changes are to be completed. The revised research paper must be re-submitted for re-examination. The re-examination will follow the same procedures as for the initial submission except that the display period may be reduced or eliminated at the discretion of the Graduate Officer. Normally, the same Examining Committee will serve. A decision to defer is open only once for each candidate.
    • Rejected: Research paper is rejected. The Examining Committee shall report the reasons for rejection. A student whose research paper has been rejected will be required to withdraw from the master's program.

Research paper formatting and submission procedures

  1. Students must make all revisions and corrections required by their examining committee and have these approved by their supervisor before submitting an electronic copy to program administrator.
  2. Students should follow the thesis guidelines outlined by the Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs for formatting of their research paper.
  3. Please note that research papers are NOT submitted electronically to UWSpace, as are theses. One copy of the research paper is required for binding, which will be arranged by the MEDI Graduate Program Coordinator. Students can order additional copies of the paper for themselves. The cost of binding is currently $14.55 per copy, including the copy required by the department. Payment will be required in advance of the copies being sent for binding. Binding can take up to one month. The bound copies will be returned to the program administrator, who will contact the student when the copies have arrived. The required bound copy will be kept in the Faculty Thesis Library and any personal copies sent to the student or distributed according to the student’s directions.
  4. Once the research paper has been defended and deemed “Accepted,” the student must complete an graduate studies intention to graduate/program completion form in order to convocate. The deadline for submission of this form for June convocation is April 30 and for October convocation is August 31. This form should be completed by the student (including signature) and the supervisor and left with the program administrator, who will obtain the signature of the Graduate Officer before submitting the form to the Graduate Studies Office.
  5. If students would like a graduate photograph, they may contact Lifetouch Photography.


Tian, Wen: Knowledge Dissemination through Online and Offline Communication Channels: An Examination of Audiences’ Attitudes, Channel Effectiveness, and Engagement Drivers (2015). Supervisor, Dr. Amelia Clarke.