CoLab offers a variety of opportunities for students to engage with real world problems through practice and study-- from informal gatherings, lectures, seminars, reading/study groups and courses, to academic year and summer internships, both paid and unpaid.
CoLab Radio, welcomes contributions from students around the world who are interested in sharing their stories of innovative projects and research in urban planning with an international audience dedicated to improving cities.
How We Work With Students
CoLab uses study groups to help prepare for and expand the knowledge base and uncover innovative approaches for new areas of work. Participants read key articles and chapters, share individual projects and participate in weekly discussion. Participation in these groups is voluntary, but often acts as a stepping-stone to more extensive involvement in CoLab projects. Examples of past reading/study groups include:
- 2009-2012 Energy Efficiency Strategy Project
- 2010-2011 Cooperatives Study Group
- 2010 Waste Management in Low Income Countries Study Group and IAP Residency in Nicaragua
- 2009 Leveraging the Stimulus Study Group
CoLab Sponsored Workshops
CoLab staff members, students, research, and faculty affiliates organize one- or two-day workshops, generally during MIT’s Independent Activities Period (IAP) in January, to give students and others in the community additional training in reflective practice and values-based planning. Examples of past workshops include:
- 2011 IAP Workshop: Values and Practice: How do yours align?
- 2011 IAP Intensive: Action Research – What is it and why is it important?
- 2011 IAP Intensive: Reflective Practice – What is it and why is it important?
CoLab Supported Courses
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 opportunities to support social innovation in marginalized communities. Examples of CoLab supported courses include:
- Spring 2011 & 2012 Democratic Wealth Generation
- 2012 IAP Course: CoLab-orative Methods for Planning with Communities
- Fall 2011 D-Lab Waste, followed by a 2-week IAP fieldtrip to Nicaragua
- Fall 2011 Practicum: Linking Urban and National Development Goals in Puerto Rico
- 2010 IAP Course: Action Research Methods for Working at Planning’s Sweet Spot
- 2009-2010 Cartagena Practicum
- 2008 IAP Course: Progressive Planning
Whenever possible, CoLab strives to connect students with community partners in the field where students can learn directly from the experience of community leaders and apply the knowledge, skills, and resources they have gained through their studies. These opportunities are dependent on funding availability and the needs and capacities of the center’s community partners. Opportunities take a variety of forms including:
- Work-study internships with partner organizations, for example
- 2009 Leveraging the Stimulus project
- IDEAS competition project teams. CoLab affiliated entries to the IDEAS competition have been relatively successful. Affiliated projects include
- 2011 Global Challenge Award: Maa Bara, a locally sourced aquaponics project ($10,000)
- 2010 Ideas Competition Award: Grease Project, a project to reduce operational costs and increase income of wastepickers in Sao Paulo, while reducing the negative environmental impact of improper disposal of waste vegetable oil ($3,000)
- Remote consultation for community partners on projects
- 2009-2010 Emerald Cities Project consultation
Thesis Research Support
CoLab values knowledge that is derived from direct community experiences and supports students who wish to use community partners’ experiences to advance positive change in urban areas. In addition, CoLab recognizes that the thesis writing experience can be very isolating and that our best ideas come from interaction with others. For this reason, CoLab hosts self-organized groups of students interested in exploring values of democracy, wealth creation and urban sustainability in their thesis research. In the past, this has manifested in biweekly sessions among small groups of thesis writers.
For more information, please email us at email@example.com.
Current Work Study Positions with CoLab Partners
Supporting Delegation from Mississippi NAACP to MIT
This Spring, a small group of delegates from MS will visit MIT with the goal of seeing a set of technologies that they can then bring back to MS and ideally link to community development and social enterprise efforts.
The student will work with Derrick Johnson, President of the MS NAACP, to:
- Identify people, resources, and technologies at MIT that could be of interest for the delegation
- Coordinate meetings with key people + labs at MIT for delegation visit
- Provide general support and logistics during the delegation visit
- Write a short report based on the trip and the potential for implementation in MS.
The ideal candidate will have a general knowledge of MIT labs and centers, particularly in the areas of energy, water, and other resource management issues, as well as people + places working on community technologies like Media Lab and FabLab.
Commitment: Approx. 10-15 hours per week, starting ASAP
Rate: $20 / hr
To apply, contact Nick Iuviene, Program Director, Just Urban Economies (firstname.lastname@example.org) ASAP.
Spring 2013 Academic Courses + Seminars
Kuna Yala Waste Management Course (D-Lab Kuna Yala)
Spring Semester, 12 credits, P/D/F.
D-Lab Kuna Yala offers students an opportunity to participate in the design and implementation of an international development project, the Kuna Yala Waste and Recycling Program. This project, funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), targets waste management in the Comarca de Kuna Yala, the autonomous indigenous reserve of the Kuna of Panama, with the goals of solving a regional waste crisis and providing income opportunities for local participants. Class sessions will cover Kuna culture and environmental adaptation, program design, participatory planning strategies, recycling supply chains, and small-business development. At semester’s end students will visit Kuna Yala for ten days, to work in partnership with Kuna individuals and organizations in four island villages on the Caribbean coast, helping them implement small waste-sector businesses and move the region towards zero-waste.
Course requirements: Reading and speaking knowledge of Spanish and the ability to travel to Panama. Approximate travel dates are June 2-12, 2013.
To express your interest in taking the course, contact Libby McDonald, Program Director, Global Sustainability Partnerships (email@example.com) by February 25, 2013.
Green Economic Development Webinar Series
Through the Green Economic Development Initiative, CoLab is hosting a series of webinars with economic development practitioners during the Spring semester.
For more information about how to join, contact Brendan McEwen, Project Coordinator, Green Economic Development Initiative (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Summer 2013 Internships + Travel Opportunities
RAAS Waste and Recycling Project
CoLab is looking for a small group of students to help consolidate our work developing inclusive waste systems and waste sector businesses in the RAAS (Southern Autonomous Region) of Nicaragua. Students will meet 4-5 times during the Spring semester at MIT then travel to Nicaragua over the summer to work in partnership with waste pickers and municipal governments in the region. All costs related to travel will be covered by CoLab.
Ideal candidates will have basic Spanish skills and an interest in small business development, social equity, and appropriate technologies.
To apply, please write Libby McDonald (email@example.com) with a paragraph describing your interest by March 15, 2013.
Work Study Internships in Green Economic Development
CoLab’s Green Economic Development Initiative supports economic development organizations pursuing the triple bottom line priorities of environmental sustainability, social justice and economic opportunity. CoLab is looking to connect MIT students with economic development organizations engaged in efforts to grow markets for energy efficiency services.
Click here for the full list of Fellows involved in the program.
For more information and to apply for an internship, contact Brendan McEwen, Project Coordinator, Green Economic Development Initiative (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Ongoing Media Projects
Become a CoLab Radio Contributor
If you’d like to write a journalistic article related to city and regional planning, you can pitch it to CoLab Radio. Write Alexa Mills, Director of Media Projects (email@example.com) for more information and to submit your ideas.
Additionally, Alexa will offer an introductory blogging training twice this semester on March 21 from 2-5 and March 29 from 4-7. Please contact her for more information and to RSVP.
Students are invited to participate in all of CoLab's events that are open to the department and to the public. Check out our events page here.