Tier 4: Experiential Capstone


In Tier 4, you’ll apply the leadership and academic skills and knowledge you’ve acquired so far through a community engagement experience under the direction of a mentor. You can begin this engaged learning experience at any point. Your experience will include establishing personal development goals, reflecting on challenges you face and feedback you receive, identifying ongoing personal development needs, and reflecting on attitudes and lessons you learned by engaging in the community.

If you pursue this opportunity during the school year, you can receive up to three credits for this experience. If you pursue an internship or other opportunity over the summer, you can earn one credit for the experience during the fall semester by summarizing and reflecting on your work in a way that meets with the approval of your leadership advisor. This, in turn, can be added to your ePortfolio.

Capstone Experience

A capstone experience is one in which you are in a position to lead a group of people to accomplish a certain goal over an extended period of time, such as a semester or over the summer. For the Leadership Minor, we ask that you participate in a capstone experience, either as part of a class or of your own design, after most of your leadership coursework is complete. Students completing the Certificate of Engaged Leadership and Dyson Fellows program will complete a capstone experience with an ePortfolio as part of their respective programs.

Examples of appropriate roles in which you can serve in an extended leadership capacity include captain of a sports team, community volunteer, residential life leader, officer in a club, fraternity or sorority, etc. If you are not sure whether an experience you have participated in is sufficient for your capstone requirement, contact Dr. Donna L. Haeger (Dyson) or Dr. Marvin Pritts (all non-Dyson students).

Before you begin the capstone experience:

  1. Send a description to your faculty advisor in the Leadership Minor, with a copy to the minor program coordinator, of what you plan to do and identify two or three learning outcomes related to leadership that you want to achieve during the experience.
  2. Design your capstone experience so that at the end, you will be able to respond to the prompts found in this LEAD Capstone Rubric.
  3. Identify a mentor/coach (not a student) who can help you if you need someone to bounce ideas off of or consult for advice, and who can vouch for the experience that you had.

After the capstone experience:

  • Enroll in LEAD 4925.
  • Complete the “Capstone Experience” segment of your ePortfolio in Digication.
  • Upload any remaining content into your Digication ePortfolio.
  • Get feedback from your leadership advisor on your ePortfolio. Your advisor may ask for changes in the ePortfolio so it can be improved. This should be an iterative process.

1 to 3 credits

Curricular Option

There are many options for completing your Tier 4 requirements. Your leadership experience might be through a course that already has an embedded leadership capstone experience, plus LEAD 4925.

Co-Curricular Option

Another option is to do your leadership experience through a pre-approved program such as the Intergroup Dialogue Project (IDP), the Certificate of Engaged Leadership or Cornell Outdoor Education, plus LEAD 4925. Cornell’s Public Service Center  is another resource you can tap to help you find a leadership opportunity and mentor. Other opportunities could be through the Greek system, athletics, or campus clubs.

The capstone experience should be designed with a member of the faculty or staff who will directly supervise your experience and be pre-approved by the director of the leadership minor. It is possible to receive one academic credit for the capstone experience (LEAD 4970 – Undergraduate Experience in Leadership) if it occurs during the academic year, it is a structured experience with regular meetings with your mentor, and you spend at least 45 hours in the experience.

To get academic credit for the capstone experience, you must fill out a Special Studies form (in addition to the capstone experience proposal described above) and describe in detail what you will be doing. Contact the director of the leadership minor for assistance in filling out the special studies form. Please note that it is not a requirement to enroll in LEAD 4970. Most students identify and participate in a capstone experience without receiving academic credit since these experiences are often less structured.

Extracurricular Option

Applying your leadership skills outside of Cornell is an excellent way to engage with communities in the Ithaca area, perhaps in your hometown, or even abroad. Planning an extracurricular leadership experience is encouraged, but requires more planning than one within a university context. If you want to have an extracurricular experience count towards your minor requirement, then you will need to have a plan endorsed by your host organization, a member of the faculty or staff who will directly supervise your experience, and the director of the leadership minor before beginning the experience. Such a plan should include the Tier 4 requirements below. If you want to receive academic credit for this experience during the academic year, enroll in LEAD 4970 (Undergraduate Experience in Leadership). Every 45 hours outside of the classroom is equivalent to one credit hour.  You will also complete LEAD 4925.

Certificate Option

Students have the option to complete the Tier 4 requirement for a capstone experience by completing the leadership certificate program through Engaged Cornell.

Tier 4 requirements include:

  • A personal statement of your learning outcomes, leadership philosophy, and principles of community engagement intended for the experience.
  • Feedback from peers and others on your performance in the experience based on that statement.
  • Your personal reflections on the lessons you’ve learned.
  • Professional coaching to approve, support, and monitor the experience.
  • LEAD 4925 or the equivalent, such as completing an  ePortfolio in another course.

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of the leadership minor, students will:

  1. Demonstrate independence and leadership in applying any of the above learning outcomes – especially those related to reflective practice, ethical issues, team engagement, and conflict resolution as well as those developed in other academic disciplines – in an experiential community engagement endeavor.
  2. Demonstrate a commitment to service and sense of responsibility for the greater good.
  3. Submit an e-leadership portfolio that includes summaries of their
    • Leadership philosophy including a personal definition of leadership and mission, vision, values.
    • Personal leadership development goals and a reflective assessment of progress made
    • Feedback from all assessments and the lessons learned from them.
    • Leadership development experiences pursued through the minor and the lessons learned.
    • Personal reflections on who they are, and how they show up in work and life.
    • Engagement experience and how that contributed to their development.
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