Skip to content

Students in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs complete their degree requirements by participating in a group capstone project in conjunction with and in service to a public or nonprofit sector partner.    

Collaborative Projects: Led by Neighbors, Supported by Student Teams

The Policy Capstone is a School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs graduate course where our partners and our students integrate research, policy, and practice in real-world projects. It is an opportunity for graduate students to use their skills and knowledge to support a local, community-led initiative. And it is an opportunity for our public service and non-profit partners to increase their networks and capacity to push a project forward.

Projects are proposed by public sector and non-profit organizations. Areas of focus span:

  • urban and regional policy (e.g., transit-oriented development, housing, and sustainability);
  • social policy (e.g., workforce development, community services, urban education, health); 
  • public and nonprofit sector management (e.g., strategic planning, budgeting, program evaluation).

Each project partner works with a team of three to five faculty-guided graduate students over the course of 15 weeks. Most students are enrolled in School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs Urban Planning and Policy, Public Policy, and Public Administration programs. These policy programs sharpen students’ policy skills and deepen their knowledge of policy issues. Students are trained in policy analysis, research methods, statistics, and, to varying degrees, more specialized skills (e.g., cost/benefit analysis, program evaluation, data visualization, survey research, GIS). 

If you have any questions, contact our Capstone Director, Dr. Kim Lucas:

Example Fall 2023 Capstone Videos

The town of Burlington set out to create a highly designed multi-use path that supports active transportation, attracts visitors, and connects Burlington’s most prominent commercial district. This student team created schematic designs and an implementation plan for the creation of a new multi-use path. Students were tasked with considering the impact on property owners, general cost estimates, and identifying a public- private financing structure to make the project a reality. 
The Taunton Redevelopment Authority sought out technical assistance from our students to explore the possibilities for highest and best use of the former Poole Silver property located on Whittenton Street. Whittenton is a priority redevelopment area for the City and is the Urban Renewal District identified in the TRA’s current Urban Renewal Planning project that is underway. This student team compared feasible reuse scenarios and performed a market study to estimate rents or sale prices of potential residential units.
This student group developed a report with an overview of cannabis sustainability regulations in a variety of states and compared those regulations to those within Massachusetts. Students also explored innovative practices being used in the cannabis industry to mitigate environmental impacts, including the use of carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction, composting, energy-efficient lighting, water conservation measures, and sustainable packaging.
Greater Grove Hall Main Street received a grant to support the development of a “Green Zone” Feasibility Study. Using their strong skillset and experience in ArcGIS, this student team developed an interactive report summarizing the quantity and type of buildings and hardscapes that currently exist in Grove Hall. 
As the Eastern Bank Foundation was looking to enhance the growth of small businesses and bridge the racial wealth gap, this student team produced a comprehensive research paper and national case study in which they identified small businesses as critical to Boston’s economic vitality and community fabric. Their work also discusses the significant racial disparities in access to capital for entrepreneurs, with entrepreneurs of color facing more considerable challenges in securing funding due to systemic inequities and discriminatory lending practices.

Example Spring 2023 Capstone Videos

CultureHouse wanted to develop new data collection and engagement methods to use as part of their urban transformation work. Our MPP/MPA student team created an update-able interactive map and some innovative and easy-to-use data collection tools. 
Boston Public Schools’ Department of Early Learning recently started an internal working group focused on family engagement. This working group wanted to understand ways that their internal work might better align to serve families across the City of Boston. They engaged our MPA/MPP/SRS student team, who deployed their skills to interview 22 professionals, analyze findings, and recommend next steps for the working group.