Georgetown’s M.S. in Environment and Sustainability Management Students Address Real-World Issues During Capstone Projects
Students in the inaugural Master of Science in Environment and Sustainability Management (MS-ESM) cohort recently completed their capstone projects to culminate their experience in the 11-month program – delivering solutions to different types of organizations on a current sustainable business issue. The projects included large corporations such as Amazon, Starbucks, and Blommer Chocolate, solar energy firms such as Nexus Power Group, startups such as Splight, and environmental institutions such as the Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Working in small teams, students utilized strategies and coursework throughout the program to address a challenge facing their clients. They were tasked with assessing the problem through preliminary research, followed by frequent meetings with their clients and faculty advisors to hone their problem definition and findings. At the end of the course, students presented their findings and recommendations to their clients in person to receive real-time feedback on their deliverables.
“Sustainability is a field that is constantly changing and evolving, so it is imperative that students gain the problem-solving and analytical skills necessary to make an impact in their future organizations,” said Vishal Agrawal, Henry J. Blommer Family Endowed Chair in Sustainable Business and academic co-director of the MS-ESM program. “The capstone project allows students the opportunity to take the knowledge they’ve learned throughout the program and apply it to a real-world sustainable business challenge that they will likely face in their careers.”
Students worked on a variety of projects ranging from carbon avoidance measurements in the circular economy to promoting sustainable behavior at an international nonprofit to sustainable packaging strategies to technology pathways for net-zero emissions and more.
Kelsey Naupari (MS-ESM’23) and her team conducted research in collaboration with the Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to gain a deeper understanding of the role of community benefits agreements (CBAs). Throughout the semester, Naupari and her classmates conducted research on the structure, availability, and essential elements of CBAs related to renewable energy development. They worked together to create an internal database to input their collective findings.
For Naupari, the blend of science and business principles during the capstone project and in the broader curriculum were major drivers of her choice to enroll in the MS-ESM program.
“What encouraged me to apply to Georgetown’s MS-ESM program is its interdisciplinary approach, which gave me a unique perspective of the current complex environmental and business challenges,” said Naupari. “I seized the opportunity and decided to learn more about hardcore business fundamentals concerning sustainability and the environment. The MS-ESM program provided me with a wide range of experiences, including hands-on projects, guest lectures, and networking events.”
For Christian Matuschka (MS’ESM’23), the global component of the capstone was particularly meaningful – especially as an international student himself.
“What is unique about this program is that it not only addresses sustainability but also includes a fresh rethinking of how we value our natural world,” said Matuschka. “During my capstone project, my team and I had the incredible opportunity to work directly with Amazon’s Decarbonization team. Our ultimate aim was to guide Amazon’s investment decisions, helping them identify where they could have the most substantial decarbonization impact within the Amazon realm. Given the global nature of the project, we had to consider that specific criteria might hold more or less importance depending on the country or market in question.”
Matuschka and Naupari recently walked in the May commencement exercises, becoming the inaugural graduates of the MS-ESM program. The degree was developed in conjunction with the Earth Commons Institute and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences to advance sustainability goals at the intersection of business and science disciplines.
With the capstone project completed, Matuschka encourages other aspiring MS-ESM students to take advantage of the full learning experience offered in the interdisciplinary program.
“My advice to the following cohort students is to immerse themselves fully in the learning process. Every piece of knowledge they gain from this meticulously crafted curriculum is invaluable. The more they absorb, the better their competitive advantage when vying for top-tier jobs.”