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Sustainability Project Home Page

Page history last edited by Richard Wood 14 years, 1 month ago



This project puts you in the role of a "research analyst" working to provide actual organizations—clients—with useful information. Student teams work with a client contact/organization to identify a need or problem that can then be addressed through research.

The final product of the project is a recommendation report that synthesizes relevant information (e.g., expert opinions, published research, industry trends) and offers feasible solutions. The project introduces you to the process necessary for producing complex, group written, professional quality reports, including how to organize a team, manage a project, conduct primary and secondary research, and write preliminary documents that contribute to a final report.


Project Objectives


  • Learn to write proposals, progress reports, and formal reports
  • Learn to identify and solve organizational problems through writing and research
  • Learn to plan and carry out a multi-stage, collaborative research and writing project (known as "document cycling" in the workplace)
  • Learn to research the specific needs of the audience(s) to which you will be writing and tailor your writing process and products to these needs
  • Learn to analyze and present a large body of information generated by your research
  • Learn to design and draft effective documents and presentations, including final and intermediate oral and written reports, memos, letters, e-mail, and various types of visual representations of data
  • Learn to manage a complex document production process which includes merging files, re-purposing existing documents, using style sheets and templates, and conducting multiple review and revisions


Document Descriptions


1. Proposal

Each individual will propose a potential “client” or “problem” for this project by posting an informal (but researched and well thought out) proposal on the class wiki. After each student outlines their proposal to the class during a class meeting, students in the class will select the projects they want to work on. This semester, we will select three projects and form teams to support those projects. Each team will revise the original proposal and submit a formal proposal in memo form to the instructor. The purpose of these proposals is to secure the instructor’s permission for proceeding with the project.


2. Research Proposal (aka Research Design Plan)

To begin evaluating the sustainability issue you have selected, you will have to plan and set up appropriate research activities. To gather good, quality information, you need to carefully avoid setting up research activities that gather irrelevant or even misleading information. To help avoid research problems, each group will submit a research plan. This plan should contain all of the following information:

  • primary research questions
  • research sources and strategies
  • potential obstacles or problems
  • a request for approval in the conclusion
  • a gantt chart


3. Progress Report

Each team will submit a written progress report of their project. This report should be 3-5 pages.

The progress report is divided into two primary sections: Work Completed and Work Remaining. A good progress report provides actual results; it doesn't merely say “I've made lots of progress on this project.” You need to be specific and detailed . It reports key findings to date, albeit in a tentative fashion. In short, a progress report previews the final report to follow.



4. Sustainability Project Recommendation Report

Your overall aim is to help a local “client” find a solution to a sustainability problem. The client will use this report to help them decide what changes in their organization are necessary to make. You should describe and identify problems with the material, determine causes of these problems, and describe strategies for addressing these problems. You will need to decide which problems are the most important and require attention first.


5. Project Assessment Memo (written individually or as a group)

Each person will be expected to write a project assessment memo that describes your group's thinking, your group's writing practices, and how the group worked as a team.

Comments (1)

Richard Wood said

at 8:31 pm on May 2, 2010

This was linked from webcampus but hard to get to, and some of the links on the wiki page were broken. Hopefully someone else will find it easier to locate this information now!

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