How has the way I understand/communicate my capstone evolved over this semester or year?
From the beginning, I knew my Environmental Studies capstone would address the fundamental question I had been exploring my entire college career- how do we transform the current economic system into one which considers the interest of people and planet? When I came across the B Corp movement (as I ate a sandwich from a Certified b Corporation) I was curious as to what it was actually doing to that effect.
The first phase of my capstone included the building of my own knowledge base around B Corps. The first Capstone MadLibs I completed in September questions, how can businesses be a force for good? In this MadLibs, I cited the importance due to lack of government regulation and the rise in eco-labels, fair trade certification and other ethical consumer movements. I questioned if green capitalism was possible. I knew I would investigate B Corps in Portland, both because of its high concentration and my interest in learning about an industry I am interested in staying connected to in post-grad. My original methodology was a deep qualitative dive into three different B Corps and a comparison to other voluntary standards.
Throughout ENVS 350, our theories class, this project developed towards an investigation into the broad question of how businesses can be a force for good, focusing on various topics. I explored possible avenues to embed responsibility in businesses without the state by utilizing the four major sectors of society. The framework of my capstone was built around weaving different theories, which I intended to all point towards B Corp in a spectacular alignment – this worked well for the theories class but proved less effective in the capstone.
For my final draft, I was forced to confront how applicable my previous work was. A major critique of my own work throughout this process is how unfocused it was. In effort to learn everything I could about B Corps, I got a bit lost in the weeds, which made it difficult to answer any question meaningful and really take a stance. In the last few weeks of editing my capstone I was able to re-conceptualize how the framework was serving my paper and what I wanted it to say. Additionally, I spent a lot of time working around a lack of clear data, only to find the right data a few weeks before it was do, meaning my interpretation of results remained a bit lacking.
In its final form, my capstone remains similar in that it addresses the fundamental question of how to create an economic system that works for all. The most difficult and intriguing part has been trying to interpret my findings to answer the questions I have posed AND decipher what I feel about. Is B Corps beneficial? Can it be beneficial to a business while further reducing the power of the state? I’m still trying to conceptualize the big picture and my own opinions, and how to communicate to all parties, those both excited by and critical of the movement.