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Students talk about their internship experiences as part of the Bard CEP master's program.

Amy Faust '07

Consultant, Environmental Planning, UK Department for International Development/World Bank, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Amy Faust

"The theoretical and practical training from BCEP was key to my entry into international development. My con-sulting assignments for international financial institutions vary from climate change planning to environmental impact mitigation to urban development in Latin America and East Africa - all have required a holistic approach and a firm grounding in understanding economic, political, technical and community angles to develop sustain-able solutions with government and donor clients." 


The Master's Capstone consists of original research with practical application to a specific environmental problem. Normally linked to some part of the student's internship, the Master's Project or Master's Thesis should reflect the multifaceted nature of an actual environmental issue.

Master’s Project Proposal

The Master’s Project is an original presentation with practical application to a particular environmental problem and its policy implication. Normally linked to some part of the internship, the project should reflect the multifaceted nature of an actual environmental issue and integrate aspects of the natural and social sciences and humanities in the analysis and policy recommendations. The student is expected to pursue a topic more intensively than in a course, drawing on and integrating knowledge from the first-year course work and the internship. The project and final report should demonstrate skill in problem solving and recommend policies for action on a particular problem.

Students begin to formalize project ideas during the summer after their first year, in consultation with a project adviser on the faculty. The internship allows students to explore policy issues and usually serves as the springboard for projects. During the internship period, a formal proposal is presented to the stu-dent’s advisor, who chairs the individual’s Master’s Project Committee, which is composed of three members (at least two of whom are CEP faculty). An outside expert may be included to provide special-ized advice on the project. Initial work is then begun on the project under the guidance of both advisor and outside expert. Recent Master’s Projects examine important environmental concerns covering a range of issue areas, including those shown below (the project title is accompanied by the hometown of graduate student in parentheses).

Master’s Project and Seminar

The seminar offers a platform for students to present progress reports on their Master’s Projects and to systematically analyze substantive issues stemming from their project research. Students discuss typical policy issues and problems treated in their projects, along with different ways of dealing with them. They also address methodological challenges encountered in their projects, and focus on effectively conveying the results of their research. The seminar provides the opportunity for students to explore together the applied interaction among science, political forces, values, and particular economic interests in producing policy outcomes. The seminar also offers students the chance to receive critiques of their work from their peers as well as a team of professors from different disciplines who lead the class together.

The Master’s Project can take the shape of an academic thesis or a more public-facing project. The culmination of the project is a written report and a public presentation. The project must be approved by the student’s Master’s Project Committee as the final requirement for graduation.

Nonresidence Option

A nonresidence Master’s Project option is available for students in both degree tracks who gain relevant employment during their second year. These students may request to be considered for nonresidency and, if approved, will complete the second year of the program off campus with two weeklong visits during the spring semester of the second year.

Sample Thesis Topics

Water and Wildlife Management

  • Assessing Vineyard Irrigation Demand under Four-Climate Futures: Methods to Enhance Resiliency to Climate Change in Sonoma, California (K. Lambert ’13: Richmond, Vermont)
  • Predicting Wetland Susceptibility to Phragmites australis: An Assessment of Environmental Condi-tions in Coastal Louisiana with Recommendations for Wetland Management (G. Ramseur ’13: Ocean Springs, Mississippi)
  • Modeling Southern Resident Killer Whale Population Response to Chinook Salmon Abundance and its Implications for Recovery Policy (J. Rohrback, ’13: Seattle, Washington)
  • The Value Of Inland Freshwater Wetlands For Flood Protection (K. McHugh ’12: Roanoke, Virginia)
  • Interspecific Variation in the Movement of North American Bird Populations in Response to Climate Change: An Assessment of Underlying Factors  (E. Fischer ’10: Cincinnati, Ohio)
  • Genetic Interaction between Farmed and Wild Atlantic Salmon Salmo salar on Dennys River, Maine: An Im-pact Assessment (D. Klinger ’06: St. Michaels, Maryland)

Pollution Prevention and Regulatory Review 

  • Our Disposable World: Emerging Plastic Bag Policies in the U.S. (K. Kokal ’13: Fort Myers, Florida)
    Applying Life Cycle Analysis to Superfund Sites: A Qualitative Matrix Analysis of the Hudson River Cleanup (K. Lundberg ’13: Smithtown, New York)
  • Risk Assessment and Regulation of Wastewater Pollution from Unconventional Natural Gas Devel-opment in the Marcellus Shale (M. Segarnick ’13: Maplewood, New Jersey)
  • The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture: Taking Stock and Moving Forward (M. Collins ’06: Anoka, Minnesota)
    Computer E-Waste in India: A Blueprint for Change (P. Pooviah ’06: Chennai, India)

Land-Use Planning and Environmental Justice

  • Knitting Green Infrastructure into the Urban Fabric: Strategies for Implementation (Anne Kline ’12: Woodstock, Connecticut)
  • Forging Consensus? The Prospective Role of Regional Governance in the Planning of ‘Shrinking Cities’ (B. Starodaj ’12: New Britain, Connecticut)
  • Sustainable Stormwater Management: Recommendations for the Bard College Campus (C. Smilie ’12: Gallatin, New York)
  • Towards Environmental Justice: An Analysis of the Brownfields Remediation Act (H. Davis ’11: Pa-los Verdes, California)
  • The Implementation of Hybrid Buses into Chicago’s Public Transit System: Implications for Air Quality and Public Health (K. Galbraith ’10: Louisville, Kentucky)

Preservation of Natural Resources and the Rural Character of Smaller Towns

  • A Comparative Analysis of Gray and Green Infrastructure for Urban Stormwater Management (S. Chennell ’13: DeKalb, Illinois)
  • Understanding Barriers to the Use of Seasonal Forecast Information in Farm-level Decision Making in Bundelkhand, India (N. Martin ’13: Columbus, Georgia)
  • Water Quality in the Village of Red Hook, New York: Evaluation of Possible Contamination from Septic Systems (A. Prior-Grosch ’13: Haverhill, Massachusetts)
  • Facilitating Local Choice in Hydraulic Fracturing Operations: A Strategic Toolkit for New York Municipalities (L. Scull ’13: Newport News, Virginia)
  • The Viability of Ethanol Production from Urban Waste Biomass for New York State: A Social Cost Analysis M. Guenther ’10: Parker, Colorado)
  • Sharing the Wealth: Public Revenue Management in Peru and the Camisea Natural Gas Project (A. Faust ’07, Bunker Hill, Illinois)
  • Contingent Valuation of Improved Water Services in Oaxaca, Mexico (L. Lusher ’07: Columbus, Ohio)

Economic Growth and Sustainable Development

  • Eco-industrial Development as an Economic Resource: The Viability of Establishing Eco-industrial Parks at Existing Brownfield Sites with Historic Industrial Activity (M. Hunnicutt ’13: Springfield, Or-egon)
  • A Feasibility Analysis of Waste to Energy in Nairobi, Kenya  (C. Munyua ’13: Thika, Kenya)
  • Examining the Use of a Feed-in Tariff to Accelerate Renewable Energy into the Ohio Electricity Sector (J. Wilson ’12: Centennial, Colorado)
  • Building Public-Private Partnerships: Integrating Informal Recyclers into Solid Waste Management in Haiti (R. Savain ’12: Plantation, Florida)
  • Does Water Scarcity Pose a Threat to Economic Growth? An Empirical Analysis (A. Hieter ’11: Hyde Park, New York)
  • Examining the Role of Municipal Utilities in the Realization of Local Wind Energy Projects (S. Sarno ’09: Falmouth, Maine)
  • The Influence of Interests in the Policy Process Leading to the Renewable Fuels Standard: A Case Study of Corn Ethanol (K. Rosenfeld ’08: Warwick, Rhode Island)
  • Assessing Environmental Impacts of Tourism and Trade-Related Services Liberalization: The Case of Beach Cleanliness in Brazil (M. Flores ’05: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
  • Barriers to Adoption of Energy-Efficiency Measures among Small Businesses in New York’s Main Street Areas (J. Barry ’03: Salt Lake City, Utah)

Corporate Social Responsibility: The Role of the Private Sector in Sustainable Development

  • The Implications of New York City’s Decreasing Manufacturing Space (R. Massey ‘09” Madison, Wisconsin)
  • Overcoming Barriers to Pollution Prevention in the Hospital Industry (R. Baker ’05: San Francisco, California)
  • Corporate Purchasing as a Tool for Environmental Management: Challenges and Recommendations (J. Cunningham ’04: East Fishkill, New York)
  • Corporate Social Responsibility: Finding Common Ground (E. Cardinal ’04: Baldwinsville, New York)
  • The Driving Force behind the Use of Compact Fluorescent Lamps in Five Hotel Chains (D. Alhadeff ’03: Seattle, Washington)