THE CLU CAPSTONE EXPERIENCE

Complex Challenges Call for Innovative Leaders

At Claremont Lincoln University, our students are emerging leaders engaged in their contexts. Building on the Claremont Core® skills of Mindfulness, Dialogue, Collaboration, and Change, all CLU graduate students complete a Capstone Project centered on asking important questions about complex issues. Undergraduate students students work on Senior Projects following a similar model.

Claremont Lincoln University faculty support students in shaping their questions, building upon their professional skills, and creating a Capstone Project original to their leadership and chosen issue. Past Capstone Projects have included diverse topics such as: mentoring programs for women, mindfulness in the workplace, inclusive curriculum for K-12 students, building community relationships with policing, understanding issues of food insecurity, mental health in elderly communities, and decreasing turnover and burnout in frontline healthcare workers. CLU faculty and the Capstone Mentor are here to support students every step of the way.

make a change

In their Capstone Projects and Senior Projects, CLU students bring about positive social change, and emerge with both their degrees and the skills they need to transform their professional lives and their communities.

Change starts with you, and CLU meets you where you are. What are you called to do next?

Capstone Story: Midori Meyer

The mission for my Capstone project was to develop and implement an empathy workshop for college students. The goals of the workshop were to present a conceptual framework of the vital importance of empathy for self, relationships, community, and society and to develop skills and competencies integral to empathic behavior. These objectives were met through experiential learning, including meditation, self and group reflection, role-playing, and modeling through practice.

Prior to enrolling at CLU, I would have approached these objectives much differently by designing a workshop based on research alone. However, the Master’s of Social Impact program taught me to take a grassroots approach to development. This systems and design thinking strategy resulted in a made-to-order workshop, shaped and molded through a cooperative collaboration amongst my participants, stakeholders and myself.

We co-created the workshop utilizing the principles I learned in the Capstone Core. The Mindfulness training taught me patience and understanding. In the Dialogue course, I learned deep listening and respectful response. The Collaboration course enlightened me to the power of co-intelligence. These learned competencies delivered a workshop that felt custom-made to the needs of my participants.

My participants and I bonded over the course of creating and experiencing the workshop. At the end of the workshop, we participated in several volunteer activities as a group and we developed a special “empath” greeting to use in the future when we bumped into each other. The greeting is our unspoken way of letting the other know we are still here for them. To greet one of my fellow “empaths” — I tap my heart, then I tap my back, then I point the peace sign toward his or her eyes. We understand this to mean, “I care about you – I’ve got your back – I wish you peace.”

Last week, I was in a parking lot when I heard my name being called. I turned to see a big lumberjack of a man I did not know tap his heart, tap his back, and point the peace sign towards my eyes. I returned the gestures and without exchanging words, we both got into our cars. This warm, unexpected encounter with a stranger indicated to me that my participants have become leaders and are creating a buzz about the virtues of one of our greatest human virtues — empathy. Capstone mission accomplished.

Capstone Story: Jorge Bedregal Marzluf

In the Ethical Leadership program, my Capstone project was to build awareness among law students at the Universidad del Valle in La Paz, Bolivia about the need of incorporating the principle of accountability in their school life and future profession. Accountability is not part of the culture in Bolivia and it is even less present in the legal system among lawyers. To achieve the purpose of my Capstone, I applied the design thinking methodology to develop a creative workshop for law students. At the workshop, the term ‘accountability’ was presented in a way that would fit into the students’ Bolivian context. It was established that in order to put accountability into practice, students needed to develop a life purpose based on the element of accountability within their context, and which would closely relate to virtue ethics.

My capstone proved to be both creative and practical, as I made it possible for each student to use critical thinking and develop a life purpose. Through the workshop, students understood they were to remain primarily accountable to their own life’s purpose, but also to society; an obligation they would take on in their role as future lawyers.

As a side benefit to my project, faculty at the Universidad del Valle were encouraged by the success of my workshop and have started developing an Innovation Laboratory where more workshops can be implemented.

The Ethical Leadership program was key to develop the skills for implementing my capstone project, which are not easily found in other graduate programs. For example, the outstanding theoretical framework taught in the program was the basis for the type of leadership I applied during my Capstone: Servant Leadership. In addition, the Claremont Core was vital in the development of outstanding skills such as focusing on what really matters (mindfulness), developing true communication through active listening (dialogue), working as partners even in a cultural environment that is reluctant to doing so (collaboration), applying new methods (design thinking), and reaffirming the discovery that my purpose in life is to be an agent of positive change.

Help us empower more students like Jorge to engage to positive social change by donating to the CLU Community Working Together campaign.

Capstone Story: Kathy Trujillo

As a student, I always believed that learning was complemented and perfected by “doing.” This core belief explains why I was attracted to Claremont Lincoln University’s Masters in Ethical Leadership degree program. From my little corner of the globe, I wanted to be a part of something new, innovative and big! The Claremont Core offered additional assurance that I was embarking on a journey of self-exploration and unveiled to me the unique leadership gifts and abilities I possess. This educational trek has given me the awareness and courage I need to offer my talents to the world with confidence.

My Capstone Action Project helped inspire optimism and enthusiasm in a poorly performing junior high school through the creation of a collaborative stakeholders’ group and a peer mentoring program. By utilizing strengths based leadership principles and the application of Appreciative Inquiry we have helped change the school’s narrative which consisted of spiraling negativity and hopelessness. Our group spent no time wallowing in or focusing on the deficiencies of the school district but immediately went to work identifying the positive attributes of our students, school, and community. We have built a sustainable organization that is improving individual and organizational strengths, creating a more positive school climate and dreaming big about making a local and global impact.

Professors at CLU offered me quality educational scaffolding; demonstrating how to research, analyze and solve problems, and then offering support as I progressed through the program independently. I was consistently persuaded to work outside of my comfort zone and encouraged to create a better version of myself at every turn. I have learned a lot about leadership, followership and the fortitude it takes to remain true to personal values, moral principles and maintain integrity.

Now it is my turn, to give back what I have been given and to strive to influence the next generation of leaders. As I interact with school administrators, stakeholders, students and community members, I am passing on the wisdom that CLU professors shared with me. The Capstone Action Project provided me with the opportunity to influence a diverse group of individuals, who are influencing others and helping shape a more optimistic vision of our future. This is how we put wisdom to work!