Will O'Brien"Teaching 599A, Consulting with Clients capstone, is rewarding and inspiring on many levels: working with committed professionals enabling client organizations to reduce costs and environmental impact; sharing my experience to help future leaders become environmental stewards and effective change agents; and advancing students' careers by building essential skills and confidence to make a difference."  Will O'Brien, Instructor


Rick Wetzler

Students' capstone designs, in 599 Independent Research capstones, open up fresh realms of thinking and impact. During the semester, further meaning and fun stem from their collecting, analyzing, and synthesizing salient information. Here, my role is akin to “Thrilled Harbormaster.” Beyond providing safe haven for a flotilla of extraordinary research initiatives, I revel in advising project pilot-testing, launching, navigating, and success.  Rick Wetzler, Instructor



The sustainability program offers two capstones: independent research and consulting.

ENVR 599 Independent Research Capstone provides you with an opportunity to complete an original study related to your personal or professional interests within sustainability and environmental management and ENVR 599a Consulting with Clients for Sustainability Solutions Capstone offers you the experience of consulting for a real-world organization to offer them a carefully designed and well-researched Sustainability Action Plan (SAP).

You complete the work for either capstone in a classroom setting with fellow degree candidates, all of whom are working towards the same goal.

Registration for the capstone is the same as a course, but your capstone topic and capstone proposal (research plan) must be approved many months in advance by registering in the noncredit Capstone Proposal Tutorial.

To support your research, we recommend that you review Harvard Library's information on environmental studies research. Visit guides by subject, and choose subjects related to your area interest. Also, George Clark is Harvard Library's environment and sustainability reference librarian.


Richard Wetzler, PhD, Research Advisor, Sustainability, Harvard Extension School (ENVR 599)

William O'Brien, MBA, JD, Associate Professor of Practice, Graduate School of Management, Clark University (599a)

Course Sequencing

First, you register for the noncredit ENVR 598 Sustainability Capstone Proposal Tutorial the semester prior to capstone enrollment (no earlier), where you'll receive individual advice from your research advisor on your capstone research plan. The tutorial is not a course. You work independently on your proposal with your research advisor by submitting multiple proposal drafts and scheduling individual appointments.  You need to make independent progress on the proposal without special prompting from the research advisor.  

You register for the tutorial in summer, if you plan to take the capstone in fall; in fall, if you plan to take the capstone in the spring; and in spring, if you plan to take the capstone in summer.   See Crafting the Proposal for ENVR 599 and ENVR 599A for specific research plan requirements, and see Timeline for mandatory proposal submission deadlines.

Second, you register for the on-campus capstone as your final, one-and-only course. Due to the heavy demands of the capstone course, you cannot be registered in any other courses.  Moreover, all other degree requirements must be fulfilled in order to draw upon your entire ALM training and expertise to produce a final project worthy of a Harvard degree. Capstones are offered on campus in the fall and spring semesters as well as during the intensive three-week summer term.