The Faculty Council has adopted the following definition for the Capstone Project in the M.Div. degree:
The Capstone Project constitutes the Master Level of the MDiv curriculum. This 6-credit project begins with a proposal from the student defining a project to be carried out in the student’s congregation and around which the student builds a portfolio of materials. The portfolio provides the basis for evaluating the student’s performance.
- The Capstone Project is usually carried out in the student’s congregation. Students may petition the dean for an exception to this requirement. The student will develop this petition in consultation with her or his faculty advisor.
- Students will usually complete the project and submit the portfolio to the evaluators no sooner than 3 months and no longer than 6 months after the proposal is approved. Students should expect to spend at least 240 hours of work to complete their projects successfully. Those who intend to complete the Capstone in 3 months should therefore anticipate spending no less than 20 hours a week working on this project. Those who anticipate completing it in 6 months should expect to spend no less than 10 hours a week. Work combines reading, research, congregational activities, and writing.
- Students develop proposals for their Capstone Projects in consultation with their faculty advisors (as well as other persons the advisor deems appropriate), who gives approval when they judge proposals to be sufficiently well-developed. A completed proposal should include at the following items:
- A hypothesis about the issue faced by the congregation that will be the focus of the project. This issue should an on-going problematic calling for adaptive change rather than a problem for which an immediate, technical solution can be constructed.
- A brief sketch of a multi-faceted strategy for responding to the issue, including a definition of progress in addressing it.
- A brief description of the student’s initial understanding of the biblical, theological, historical, and ethical foundations for analyzing the issue.
- A brief description of pastoral leadership approaches for addressing the issue, including liturgical, educational, programmatic, pastoral, administrative, and leading.
- An initial annotated bibliography of resources related to the issue.
- The contents of the portfolio that will be submitted for evaluation at the end of the project.
- The name of the local expert (e.g., local clergy mentor, work supervisor) who will serve as a consultant for the student during the project and who will join the faculty advisor in evaluating the portfolio upon its submission.
- Students register for the Capstone Project in the month after their proposal is approved.
- Students submit a portfolio by their chosen submission date (see above). Portfolios contain the following contents and are submitted as follows:
- At least one week before ministry events the student must submit:
- A 4,000-5,000 word analysis of the issue being studied. An analysis incorporates research in the relevant literature and data gathered in the congregation and/or community. It looks at the general problem and how it is manifested in the student’s location. It also includes the theological affirmations (with appropriate justification) that ground the student’s understanding of the issue. This paper demonstrates how the student’s learning in seminary contributes to her or his understanding of the issue.
- A 4,000-5,000 word description of the approaches the student has taken to address the issue and a justification or rationale for taking that approach. The justification/rationale must draw on various disciplines and show how they are used in a coherent fashion. This description includes the concrete steps taken in applying these approaches to the issue being addressed. It also includes the theological affirmations that ground the student’s approaches to the issue. This paper demonstrates how the student’s learning in seminary contributes to his or her understanding of the issue.
- An annotated bibliography that includes all literature cited in other materials included in the portfolio. It is divided by discipline and includes resources the student has utilized in his or her seminary studies.
- After pastoral events the student must submit:
- Any surveys, questionnaires, programs, literature, sermons, lessons, etc. that were used in carrying out the project in the congregation.
- Evidence of work within the congregation approximating the amount of such work in four competency exercises. Work may include video recordings of 3-4 pastoral events (e.g., sermons, lessons, etc.) as examples of how the student’s ministry addressed the issue. Pastoral events will have reflected the diversity of disciplines used in the approaches taken to address the issue. Pastoral events should reflect the same depth of work as the written work.
- A 750-1,000 word assessment of the effectiveness of the project. This consists of evaluation of the degree to which the progress aimed at was achieved and what the next steps for pastoral action might be.
- Evaluations of the project’s reception by the recipients of the ministry, normally including data gathered from the recipients and “exit data” gathered from the congregation gauging the project’s effectiveness.
- The project is evaluated by the local expert named in the proposal and the faculty advisor. Upon initial evaluation, the evaluation team may ask the student to re-work some part of the project or portfolio before assigning a final grade. The faculty advisor assigns the final grade for the Capstone Project. A passing grade for the Capstone Project is C (i.e., 73 or higher). A student who receives a lower grade may re-take the Capstone Project once. A student re-taking the Capstone Project may be asked to re-write all or part of their proposal. The Capstone Project is evaluated using a rubric based on the learning goals of the MDiv program.
♦ Updated 7/22/15