Every year, CoLab supports one or more courses offered in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning. CoLab staff support the course development and execution and connect enrolled students to community partners. CoLab is working to support at least one Practicum course each academic year, guiding students in reflective practice in the field and providing students with opportunities to support social innovation in marginalized communities. 


Current, Upcoming, and Ongoing Courses


 Course Description: Builds on Participatory Action Research (PAR) 1 to deepen focus on knowledge co-production with communities. Explores co-designing and co-conducting research with community partners at various stages of the research process; actual cases in which PAR-like methods have been used; and interaction with community members, organizations, and individuals who have been involved in PAR collaborations. Students will be expected to produce a PAR research proposal, as well as content that can be added to the website.

PAR 1 and PAR 2 may be taken in any order.

Instructors: Dayna Cunningham, Executive Director, and Alison Coffey, Research Associate
Dates: February 6 - March 22 (T/TH 5-6:30pm)

We live in a time of disruptive change. How to activate our capacity to lean into the emerging future may well be the most important leadership challenge of our time. How do you cultivate curiosity, compassion and courage in the face of prejudice, anger and fear?

This course is an introduction to a method called Theory U, developed at MIT, for leading such change in business, government, and civil society contexts worldwide.

The only prerequisite for this course is u.lab 15.671.0x, an introductory overview--which you can complete in just 90 minutes. Building on the intention you set in u.lab 15.671.0x, 15.671.1x will help you to apply the Theory U method to an issue that matters to you, with fellow change makers locally and around the world. Join us as we co-pioneer new approaches to today’s most important social and environmental challenges using a method of awareness based systems change.


Past Courses


Introduces students to participatory action research (PAR), an approach to research and inquiry that enables communities to examine and address consequential societal problems. Explores theoretical and practical questions at the heart of partnerships between applied social scientists and community partners. Focus includes the history of PAR and action research; debates regarding PAR as a form of applied social science; and practical, political, and ethical questions in the practice of PAR. Guides students through an iterative process for developing their own personal theories of practice.

Instructors: Dayna Cunningham, Executive Director, and Alison Coffey, Research Associate
Dates: September 7 - October 19

Over the course of 2 weeks, students will engage in a hands-on audio production workshop exploring urban planning issues in East Boston through multiple lenses.

East Boston is a fascinating neighborhood for those interested in urban planning because of its unique geography, history, and shifting demographics. Long a neighborhood of immigrants trying to find their footing in America, the neighborhood’s seafront has recently attracted significant real estate investment that is leading to gentrification and displacement.

Instructors: Lawrence Barriner II, Program Director for Community Media, and Grant Williams, MIT DUSP Alum
Dates:  Jan 9-13 & 17-19 2017 | 3-8PM

All prevous courses