Capstone Travel Journal: Episode 1
This week, students in the Master of Science in Sustainability Management program (MSSM)’s Integrative Capstone Workshop course traveled to Jordan to meet with representatives from the King Abdullah II Center for Excellence (KACFE) . The trip was made possible by the Earth Institute Travel Grant program.
KACFE aims at promoting a culture of excellence in Jordan and the Region through developing excellence frameworks and assessment criteria based on international best practices, assessing organizations’ performance, managing King Abdullah II awards for excellence and promoting excellence to public sector, private sector, not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations. KACFE is currently considering adding a new and separate award theme under “sustainability.” In this endeavor, the Center is seeking the support of the capstone workshop group in order to develop new award metrics or criteria for sustainability that will be adapted in the award cycle for 2014/2015.
The student team, in consultation with the Director, and with the liaison support of staff of Columbia University’s Middle East Research Center, will identify best practices in measuring tangible achievements in more sustainable operations. The students will “test” the developed criteria through case studies of regional organizations who match the profile of likely award candidates. Members of the capstone workshop group include Stephen Marlin, Jasmine Davis, Luke Statz, Alvaro Cangas, Natalia Agueros-Macario, Lulu Almana, Courtney Small, Diana Sierra, Anas Khasawneh, Lizzette Butkiewicz, Puja Modi, Ankita Shukla, Jonathan Cain, and Mohammad Al Amoush. The group is advised by Grant Goodrich.
Here is the first episode, written by Lizzette Butkiewicz and Jonathan Cain, chronicling their trip to Jordan thus far:
Some group members arrived via Frankfurt, Istanbul and Doha a few days prior to scheduled meetings to visit Jordan’s popular weekend resort destination – The Dead Sea. The team was able to get to know each other better while taking advantage of all of what the lowest point on earth has to offer from high-mineral mud masks to fine mezza of roasted lamb and hummus. Yum!
The team was able to meet Ms. Yasera Ghosheh, Executive Director of the King Abdullah II Center of Excellence, along with her team to present our work thus far and have a productive discussion of the project and the work ahead. Ms. Ghosheh encouraged the team by stating “The idea of the award is NOT the award itself. We want best sustainability practices to become embedded in business procedures.”
CUMERC hosted our capstone group in their Amman headquarters, which included a brief history of their program and their involvement with the creation of our capstone project, by designating sustainability in Amman as a research area of interest for Columbia. Grateful for our opportunity and their hospitality, we discussed at length our research and our outcome hopes for our fieldwork. CUMERC provided support in many ways including aiding in setting meetings and offering office space and services. Shukran kteer, CUMERC! Thank you very much, CUMERC!
The team splits up daily into smaller teams to tackle all the meetings planned for the day. On Monday, some team members met with Eng. Ahmad Al-Qatarneh, Secretary General of the Ministry of Environment. He and his team provided a background to the work the Ministry has done, along with a detailed explanation of the initiatives and challenges they face in the implementation of such projects. They were excited to hear that we were working with the Center of Excellence to help strive towards better sustainability practices in the private and public sector. We will be attending meetings with other various stakeholders in the public and private sectors in the coming days. The team is really excited about the challenging schedule that we have planned and the caliber of the people we will meet.