The Capstone Project, or Environment and Business (ENBUS) 402, is a two-term course that serves as the capstone for the undergraduate ENBUS program. The course allows students to apply their knowledge and skills gained in the ENBUS program to a meaningful project in the business community. Teams of 4-5 students that work on projects that integrate and apply the concepts of business and sustainability. Teams are either matched with organizations to work on a current sustainability problem, or take a more entrepreneurial approach and build their own projects to explore emerging challenges or even to explore future business ideas.
On average, each year student teams put in over 36,000 hours researching sustainable solutions for more than 20 projects.
The size or focus of the organization is less important. What really matters is the sustainability challenge that each organization faces. Our student teams have worked on projects that include:
- Developing sustainability reporting/tracking frameworks and sustainable procurement guidelines;
- Integrating the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) reporting;
- Developing consumer sustainability buying guides;
- Conducting Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) on products; and
- Providing recommendations for incorporating sustainability initiatives into organizations based on analysis that includes Return on Investment (ROI).
Tim Murphy, Vice President Environmental Performance, Walker Industries:
For 3 years, Walker Industries has worked with faculty and students in the capstone course to conduct research on real-world challenges. Over 3 years Walker Industries has worked with 9 student teams on topics including:
- 2016-17 – Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
- 2017-18 – Environmental Product Certification and Climate Change Risk Assessment
- 2018-19 – Climate Adaptation Assessment and Pollinator Enhancement Frameworks
Research from the student teams has led to real action. Recommendations from these projects were considered in:
- Re-assessment of company and product branding to better align with our environmental objectives;
- Development and implementation of Climate Action Plans in 2018 for all of the company’s locations, including mitigation, adaptation and resilience;
- Revision of the company’s sustainability report for 2017-18; and,
- Development of the company’s Biodiversity Action Plan.
Walker Industries looks forward to our continued involvement with the faculty and students of the innovative and inspiring capstone course at the University of Waterloo.
“The capstone course was extremely valuable for strengthening my own transferable skills base, including project management, conducting primary research, and communicating complex issues to different audiences. The course also offered firsthand insight into the challenges and opportunities that businesses face when implementing sustainable practices. This experience was invaluable for identifying some of the major sustainability issues I currently hope to address as a doctoral student.”
“The capstone course brought together all the important elements of the program. The collaborative experience to solve a true sustainability problem for a leading Canadian oil and gas company challenged our team to leverage all the critical thinking, data analysis, and communication skills we gained prior to the project. Having key company decision-makers look to us as the experts was a truly rewarding experience.”
“This experience allowed us to try to come up with a manageable solution to a major problem while exploring new skill-sets and applying them in a comfortable and supported environment. The capstone gave us the opportunity to channel our personal passions into academic research. Through this, we have gained the industry experience that will bring us one step closer to our aspiration of starting an eco-fashion brand and simultaneously improving the social and environmental impact of the fashion industry.”