Student-Led Research and Technical Support for Community Partners
In keeping with the University of Minnesota’s land-grant mission, the Humphrey School’s capstone program is one of the principal avenues for academic outreach and service to the broader community. Each year, the Humphrey School offers approximately 13 different capstone workshop courses and completes approximately 40 different capstone projects in support of community clients from the public and nonprofit sectors.
Capstone courses are offered year-round, with one course offering in the summer semester, two in the fall semester, and approximately 10 in the spring semester. The topical focus for each course varies according to the expertise of the faculty, needs of the student, and requests from the community.
Capstone Student-Consultant Teams
A group of three to five graduate students serves as a consultant team for an organizational client. The student-consultant team conducts research, analysis, and delivers a final presentation and product to the client upon completion of the project. Throughout their capstone project, the team members interface directly with the client through a point of contact, where they develop a working relationship that is crucial to the success of the capstone study.
Clients are usually public or nonprofit organizations and are based locally, regionally, nationally, and around the world. Previous capstone clients include World Savvy, Advocates for Human Rights, Dakota County, City of Minneapolis, Little Earth of United Tribes, Minnesota Alliance on Crime, Minnesota Department of Human Services, Global Deaf Connection/Junior Achievement Jamaica, Charities Review Council, Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia, North Point Evaluation Department, U.S. Department of State, Federal Reserve Bank, White Earth Nation, and Human Rights Watch.
Typically, projects involve analyzing a public policy or management problem and often include a research component. The final products provided by the student-consultant team to the client are negotiated at the beginning of the study, but typically include a presentation to leaders from the client organization and a written product. Examples of completed capstone projects:
- Engaging Communities in Public-Private Partnerships to Advance Olmstead Plan Implementation in Minnesota
- Using Peers in Human Rights Investigations
- Penn Avenue C Line: Economic Development Strategies
- A Gaps Analysis of SNAP: Employment and Training service in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties
- Empty Boots, Quiet Sirens: The State of Non-Career Firefighting in Minnesota: A Report to the Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association
Each capstone workshop is run by one or more professors who serve as teacher and coach to the student-consultant teams. Capstone faculty members are typically involved in the initial project coordination with the capstone client, in order to evaluate the validity of a capstone project proposal and establish the initial parameters and scope of the study. Throughout the project, the faculty member provides instruction and advice to students on completion of key elements of the study. They also contribute to the evaluation of the project deliverables and the quality of the team’s effort.
Development of Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)
Capstone student-consultant teams negotiate a memorandum with their clients that defines a problem, project focus, scope of work, client and student responsibilities, and deliverables at the end of the semester.
Visit this page to learn more about students' requirements, learning objectives, and core competencies for the capstone workshop.
Request for Proposal: Global Policy Project
A REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS FOR GPA AND MDP CAPSTONE PROJECTS
The Humphrey School of Public Affairs (HHH) at the University of Minnesota ranks among the top
Timeline: Global policy and MDP capstone graduate students will be assigned to projects and form teams in the fall of 2016 and conduct projects primarily in the Spring 2017 semester, completing the project by May 2017.
● September-October: Capstone projects selected and graduate student teams formed.
All details and dates will be outlined in the jointly drafted memorandum of agreement.
● focus on a global issue;
Ownership and Use of Final Report
The Humphrey School provides limited support to students for Capstone related travel.
Graduate students will:
Faculty advisor will:
Please use the following template in submitting project proposals:
(7) Description of project
(8) Research Question
(9) Proposed Deliverables
(10) Assumptions and Special Considerations
If the project will involve working with vulnerable populations, culturally sensitive issues, or
● Is a language other than English required for fieldwork, research or information? Will a
(11) Evaluation Criteria
Request for Proposal: Program Evaluation Project
Each semester, the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota provides pro-bono services to pubic and nonprofit organizations in need of design work for program evaluation.
A team of graduate students enrolled in a program evaluation course works with the client (nonprofit organization or government agency) to develop an evaluation plan that includes:
A narrative description of the program;
A logic model (specifying what the program or initiative does, what it hopes to achieve, and how stakeholders believe the program will lead to the desired outcomes);
A pragmatic evaluation plan outlining proposed/recommended data collection methods, time line, responsibilities, and a management plan; and
Data collection tools.
If feasible, the students will field test at least one of the data collection tool and based on that test, revise the tool and summarize the collected data. Student will not have sufficient time in the semester to complete a full evaluation beyond this design. However, when completed, this plan and other products allows the organization to implement the design to answer its most pressing evaluation questions.
If you have a need for such a service, please submit a few paragraph description to Professor Jodi Sandfort, firstname.lastname@example.org by December 1 (more about Jodi here). She is particularly interested in working with Human Service organizations because of her leadership role in the Future Services Institute. Provide some brief description of 1) your organization; 2) the program evaluation need; 3) the potential contact person in your agency with whom the group might work. If selected, you will be asked to provide some program background information to help brief the student team.
If selected, there are a few parameters you should note.
- The preliminary meeting with your evaluation team will occur mid-February at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs (301 19 Avenue South, Minneapolis, 55455).
- Prior to this first meeting, students will have read background information about your program and done some preliminary research about evaluations of comparable programs (to the extent this information is available). When we meet with you the student(s) will likely ask you clarifying questions about several aspects of your program including:
Who benefits from the program?
What do hope to ultimately achieve through this work?
What services are provided or activities initiated?
What evaluation-type questions do you have about the program?
How might evaluation information be used?
What information would be useful to know from the evaluation?
Who might use the evaluation information?
- Following this first meeting, student teams will be in contact with you or your staff members coordinating this project to seek input or additional information. They will coordinate this correspondence and will work with all the teams to ensure we don’t take too much of your time.
- Once students complete their work over the course of the semester, they would like an opportunity to present what they’ve learned. Please plan to join us for a final presentation of your evaluation plan in late-April.
Thank you for your interest. Your participation in this course assignment provides students with a valuable applied learning experience that will help develop their evaluation design and process skills. It is my hope that you also will gain a better understanding of the evaluation process, a narrative description and logic model that you may find useful in your work, and an evaluation plan that can be used for program improvement and communication with external stakeholders.
If you have any questions about the course or this program evaluation project please contact me via email or phone at your convenience.
Office: 612-625-3536 email@example.com