All organizations who are interested in joining NYU in this innovative and far-reaching endeavor are asked to submit a project proposal (May). If the project is selected (September), organizations must identify two liaisons: a primary liaison, who is able to commit at least 30 minutes per week for the first 2 months and once every 2 weeks in the remaining months; and a secondary liaison, who acts as a backup project representative. Liaisons are asked to work with the students to develop a working agreement governing the project scope and assist in obtaining approval from the local equivalent of a Research Ethics Board. Expectations of liaisons are outlined in the Capstone Guide for Organizations.
Students bring a mix of skills and experience, and are selected to work on the particular project in which they have shown interest. During the year, students are expected to research and refine the problem proposed by the organization; develop an explicit working agreement governing the scope and deliverables of the project; collect data and conduct analyses relevant to the project; and prepare a final report (in written and oral form) as well as the final product as agreed upon with the organization. Expectations of the student team can be found in the Capstone Guide for Students.
Student teams (consisting of 3-5 students) undertake projects from September to April and deliver a final product to organizations in April. While the bulk of study is done in New York, international fieldwork may be a component of the project. Students are normally able to spend 2-3 weeks in the field, as necessary during university breaks and holidays. During fieldwork, teams will work directly under the supervision of their organization, according to a detailed fieldwork itinerary prepared by the student team in advance of travel. Students then return to New York for analysis and production of the final report.
While organizations must be able to provide the appropriate human resources and capacity to undertake the project, there is no fee involved. In addition, NYU covers a majority of students’ travel-related expenses; organizations are not expected to pay for student travel. Travel arrangements are the students’ responsibility, although assistance and travel suggestions from organizations are always appreciated. NYU Insurance & Risk Management covers all students who travel for Capstone. Students sign release forms ensuring that they have international health insurance and that they will abide by the organization’s security regulations.
Feedback from the organizational representatives is requested on the final product as well as on the team's progress throughout the project. At the end of the first and second semesters, students are also asked to complete self- and peer-assessments for continual improvement in team building and project management. NYU faculty evaluates the team’s performance and each student receives a course grade based upon their development of skills in research, ethics, methods, analysis, and practice.
Past Capstone projects have involved organizations in Brazil, Cambodia, El Salvador, Ghana, India, Liberia, South Africa, Uganda, the U.S, and Zambia. They have explored issues including refugee health needs, social determinants of maternal mortality, cardiovascular disease prevention, child morbidity and mortality, HIV risk, poison prevention, socio-economic inequalities in health, and malaria eradication. Click here to find out more about our past Capstone projects.