Sustainability Exchange Project Proposals
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About the Exchange
The Sustainability Exchange is a capstone course bringing together interdisciplinary teams of 4-9 upper-level undergraduate students, each led by a faculty member, to work on a project addressing an environmental or sustainability issue for a client. The course runs in both fall and spring semesters, and operates 3-6 unique project groups each semester.
Past clients have included OneSTL, Missouri Coalition for the Environment, A Red Circle, Applied Particle Technology, The Nature Conservancy, Cottonbabies, the Restorative Justice Movement Center, and more.
Faculty, staff, nonprofit organizations, businesses, municipalities, informal groups, coalitions, or individuals may propose a project for the Sustainability Exchange. We encouraging applicants to propose projects that are two semesters in length. We've found over the years that few projects are truly complete after one semester, so we're embracing this reality and asking faculty and other applicants to plan for two semester or longer projects. We prefer to start new projects in the fall but may also be able to accomodate a spring semester start. If you have a project you would like to start in the spring, please email the Exchange for specific instructions.
Important Dates (for Spring 24 proposals)
- For prospective clients, and faculty advisors submitting proposals without identified clients, the deadline is October 15
- We need additional time to do advisor/client matchmaking for these proposals.
- We will be in touch with you with feedback about your proposal in mid-October
- For prospective WashU faculty advisor/client teams that have already identified a joint project, the deadline is October 30
Announcements for projects beginning Fall will be made by November 15
Fall projects begin on the first day of classes in mid-January.
The project proposal form below will ask you to submit a 250-word description of your project, in addition to some information about you and your organization or department.
- Time Commitment: Faculty advisors are required to attend class on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30-4pm, and to work with students to synthesize content from class seminars into their projects. They are responsible for ensuring that a Partnership Agreement is signed by both faculty and client outlining project expectations, timeline, and deliverables. Clients are required to provide needed data and contacts for students as established in the partnership agreement, to meet with student groups periodically (monthly is ideal) throughout the semester, to be available for students to ask questions and provide feedback via email at least weekly, and to attend the end-of-semester poster session if possible. As you draft your project proposal, please keep the following criteria in mind. We will use these criteria to prioritize the proposals we receive.
- Relevance: The project is relevant to an environmental or sustainability-related problem.
- Partnership: The project is mutually beneficial and all parties have put time and effort into developing a relationship, determining needs, and defining roles.
- Impact: If completed successfully, the project will have a clear, tangible impact on 1) the client and 2) an environmental issue
- Equity: The project explicitly prioritizes the well-being of people of color and other historically marginalized groups, as our society places the disproportionate impact of environmental burdens on these groups.
- Interdisciplinarity: The project is broad enough to require perspectives and skillsets from multiple disciplines. If your project is primarily focused on one type of activity (like data analysis or graphic design), we encourage you to think more broadly about the problem you're working on and how you can expand it to facilitate interdisciplinarity.
- Student Learning: The project facilitates student learning by clearly outlining the role students will have in the project, the deliverable expected of them, and the bigger environmental issue they address by engaging in this project.