Senior Capstone (4900) Offerings for SU18, AU18 & SP19

The ENR 4900.01 and 4900.02 sections offered throughout the school year appeal to different interests. Please read the course descriptions below to note the differences. Then, be sure to schedule the section most appropriate for your interests.

Autumn Offerings:

Dr. Bill Peterman -- 4900.02

Monday/Wednesday 12:15-1:35 pm

ENR 4900.02 is an integrative and culminating course where students will apply the skills and knowledge gained throughout their undergraduate training to develop and execute field research or monitoring projects in collaboration with stakeholders (e.g., Metro Parks, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service). Past projects have included quantifying bird abundance and diversity in relation to habitat restoration, assessment of forest composition and tree diversity, habitat suitability assessments for terrestrial and aquatic wildlife species, education and outreach at nature centers, and patterns of trail use at Metro Parks. Most of the field data collection will occur outside of class. Students will work in small groups throughout the course to collect and analyze data, present results, and write a management plan. It is expected that all students will have completed ENR 2000 and 3700; completion of ENR 5362 is highly desirable. If you have question, please contact Dr. Bill Peterman (

Dr. Matt Hamilton -- 4900.01

Monday/Wednesday 3:55-5:15 pm

In this section of 4900.01, students will gain hands-on experience in applying participatory approaches for facilitating multi-stakeholder decision-making processes. When diverse groups of people are involved in decisions about environmental policy (for example, how to manage a park, or how to respond to a new invasive species), they often bring different values and goals to the table. Understanding these values and goals is often crucial making a good decision, or for making a decision at all, and this capstone section will focus on how to facilitate collaborative decision-making processes through approaches such as participatory mapping, value mapping, and structured decision-making. Specifically, students—in interdisciplinary teams—will gain experience applying these approaches in real environmental decision-making settings. Teams will then develop a set of recommendations designed to improve the specific decision-making at hand. In the process, they will gain skills and training relevant to diverse careers such as environmental consulting, conflict mediation, and facilitation.

Spring Offerings:

Dr. Suzanne Gray -- 4900.01

Tuesday/Thursday 11:10am-12:30pm

Dr. Gray’s section of the capstone course will focus on the integration of students’ knowledge of social-ecological systems, natural resources management and environmental science with an emphasis on water and aquatic issues from local to global scales. In this section, students will work in interdisciplinary teams throughout the semester on projects that tackle water-related issues as defined by the stakeholders. For example, OSU’s Olentangy River Wetlands Research Park has several projects that require management plans associated with wetland biodiversity and the integration of the primary mission of research with teaching and outreach. The course will also include a number of training sessions and talks designed to improve students' transferable skills and readiness for the job market.

Dr. Matt Davies -- 4900.01

Tuesday/Thursday 3:55-5:15pm

Dr. Davies' section of the capstone course will focus on the development of restoration management plans. Working with a variety of stakeholders and real restoration problems, students will form mini-restoration consultancies to develop an adaptive plan for the management of a degraded site. Over the course of the semester students will work through the planning process including initial scoping, identifying reference conditions, choosing restoration treatments, designing a monitoring program and budgeting for the plan. Students will prepare a written report for the stakeholders and pitch the results of their work. Students will finish the capstone with an in-depth understanding of the restoration planning process and a concrete example of how they can use and implement their skills. The course will also include a number of training sessions and talks designed to improve students' transferable skills and readiness for the job market.

Dr. Alia Dietsch - 4900.01

Tuesday/Thursday 3:55-5:15 pm

Dr. Dietsch's section is aimed at training seniors to plan, organize, and ultimately implement a bioblitz. So…. What exactly is a bioblitz? Usually these events occur over a select time period, such as 24 hours, and during this time, ‘citizen scientists’ or members of the public, including students from K-12 schools and residents from the local community, are invited to participate in prearranged groups led by experts who can successfully guide data collection efforts. Ultimately, this course is a planning and implementation project aimed at catalyzing audiences around Columbus to help catalogue biodiversity in selected areas through a variety of projects that focus on natural resources of interest to the students. Currently, students in this semester’s offering are working with Highbanks Metroparks, and will host the first ever OSU/Metroparks bioblitz this April over Earth Day weekend.

For this class, students are expected to be able to integrate the ideas, concepts, and tools learned during their academic careers related to planning, problem solving, and decision-making, while simultaneously developing additional skills that will help to set them apart as leaders in their respective careers. This course will follow an experiential, service-learning model where students will be directly planning and implementing their ideas. The instructor will help to facilitate the learning process, but success or failure is ultimately up to students and will likely be reflected by the amount of time and effort they dedicate to their projects.

Open to all majors. Students particularly interested in social science, environmental justice, environmental education and outreach, or citizen science research projects are encouraged to sign up! Feel free to email Dr. Dietsch for more information at

Summer Offering:

Dr. Gabe Karns -- 4900.02

First 4 week session of summer

Students will work within interdisciplinary teams to identify and analyze natural resource management challenges that arise in practice, and to develop a final technical report and presentation that highlights the focus of their team’s project. Students spend the bulk of the first week on the Columbus campus designing project ideas and goals, objectives, actions for their projects and protocols for data collection. The second week is held on the OSU-Mansfield campus where students collect data pertinent to their projects. The week in Mansfield is truly a capstone experience, emulating what it’s like to work on a field crew as a technician. The third week (excluding Memorial Day) is back on the Columbus campus, where students analyze their data and write projects reports that highlight what they have learned and provide tangible guidance to resolve the challenges identified in week one. Projects primarily focus on forestry, wildlife, and recreation management, but can also accommodate students interested in ecological restoration and sustainable ag and local food movements.