College of Professional Studies students have a firm grounding in experiential learning through capstone projects with corporate partnerships. Recently, we tried a new twist on the capstone experience.
Students from two master’s programs, Corporate and Organizational Communication and Nonprofit Management, collaborated on a multi-dimensional project for one sponsor — Fashion Revolution.
The challenge of expanding into the North American market
Fashion Revolution’s vision is “a global fashion industry that conserves and restores the environment and values people over growth and profit.” The organization, which has a presence in Africa, Asia, Central America and the Caribbean, Europe, Oceania, and South America, wanted to to expand more aggressively into North America. This was a challenging project with several moving parts, multiple stakeholders, and a very tight timeframe. How could our students make a positive impact within those constraints?
Deploying interdisciplinary teams
Through rich discussions and sharing of opportunities, a collaboration commenced between Kathleen Grevers, Fashion Revolution USA Education Director, Monica Borgida, Program Lead for Nonprofit Management, and Patty Goodman, Principal Instructor for Cross Cultural Communication. We fielded six cross-disciplinary teams with six defined “sub-projects.” The eight-week projects ranged from strategic planning to social media strategy.
Our graduate students developed a Student Ambassador Onboarding Plan, articulated communication objectives with Key Performance Indicators associated with organizational strategies and generated a Balanced Scorecard for the nonprofit organization.
Demonstrating agility and dealing with ambiguity
One of the challenging aspects of this endeavor was the coordination of all the stakeholders. This included students in three parallel capstone courses and organized into six teams, our Fashion Revolution contacts, and the faculty members. Although there were moments of uncertainty and ambiguity across the various communication networks, the students demonstrated their ability to be agile and their commitment to formulating realistic recommendations.
Here’s what one of our Fashion Revolution partners said after hearing the student team recommendations: “Again, thank you for your vision, insights, and research on this very important topic for our organization!”
Posted by Patty Goodman, Faculty