I first began the capstone process back in September by taking ENVS 499, an independent study. This is due to the fact that I took ENVS 350 the spring of my sophomore year as an elective course, and through changes to the ENVS major, ENVS 350 is now more geared towards developing senior capstones. Since last fall, and even all the way back to the start of my freshman year, I have developed new ways of thinking and have become more knowledgeable of subjects such as resource exploitation and institutional racism. The way I have thought about issues related to my capstone has also developed by focusing more on asking deeper questions rather than “big questions.”
My capstone has come a long way from my time at Lewis & Clark, beginning the process back in ENVS 220 in my sophomore year. Back when each student had to design concentrations in order to be accepted into the major (a process that no longer exists), my capstone title was “Technology and Planning: Instruments for Managing Water Resources“. I have always been interested in freshwater resources generally, but I was unsure of what I wanted to tackle back in my sophomore year. Looking back on ENVS 220, the whole concentration process could have been trimmed down better and thankfully underclassmen and incoming ENVS majors will go through a more streamlined process.
The way I understand and discuss my capstone with others has changed throughout my Senior year as a whole, and even just this semester. For quite some time, my framing question has been “How can populations deal with freshwater scarcity?” However, my current capstone title ( “The Management and Comparison of Freshwater Scarcity in Southern California and Israel”) and focus question (What types of policy and technology were used to combat drought conditions and freshwater scarcity in specific regions in Southern California and Israel? How effective were they and why?) has shifted throughout the course of my senior year and my time in ENVS 400. As I have conducted more research, produced outcomes (via a mini-thesis and ArcGIS Story Map), as well as received feedback and provided feedback to other ENVS seniors, I feel more comfortable in understanding and communicating my capstone.
Graduation is around a month away, which means all of my capstone work will come to an end by then. I think from now until the final draft is due, there will be at least one more major breakthrough in my work, and it will be interesting to reflect on my entire capstone process with all of its successes and challenges.