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Fall 2013 CoLab Course Descriptions Now Available

Fall 2013: “In This Building”: Multimedia and Collaborative Storytelling in Urban Planning

Course description: The purpose of this half-semester course is to produce media about life in cities. Each student will work in a small group to create a multimedia portrait of one multi-family residential building in Boston or Cambridge. The physical buildings, its history, the land under it, and the people who live inside will be considered as part of the story. Students should think of the subjects of their stories as media makers, too. We will design media collection strategies that enable building residents to document their own lives and neighborhoods. Students will prepare their final media deliverables with a general public audience in mind. This course will be taught in partnership with The Boston Globe.

Every person has a story worth hearing, an idea worth examining, and knowledge worth sharing. In that spirit, this course will be as participatory as possible for students and teachers both inside and outside of the classroom. By the end of the course, we will have published a record that enables anyone to replicate the experience. Portions of the course will be open to the public in real time.

Instructors: Prof J. Philip Thompson & Alexa Mills, Program Director, CoLab Media Projects
Time: Thursdays, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Dates: September 12 – October 24, plus a final presentation
Location: 9-415
Web link:


Fall 2013: 11.S944: The Theory of Participatory Action Research (PAR)

Course Description: Introduction to the theory of action research and more generally to competing ideas about the uses of social research to promote social change. Focus will be on the epistemological foundations for action research, knowledge generation in action research, the role of the “friendly outsider,” action science and organizational learning, participatory evaluation and arguments for and against phronetic social science. Students will be expect to complete a careful analysis of actual PAR cases.

Faculty: Prof. Larry Susskind & Dayna Cunningham, Executive Director, CoLab
Dates: October 9th - November 13th
Web link:


Fall 2013: EC.716/EC.786(G): D-Lab Waste

Course Description: Waste provides a multi-disciplinary approach to managing waste in low-and–middle-income countries with strategies that diminish greenhouse gas emissions and provide enterprise opportunities for marginalized communities. The course, comprised of lectures, fieldtrips, and guest speakers, studies waste management strategies in cities in Africa, India, and Latin America. It examines case studies of collection, recycling, and waste-to-energy businesses developed in low-income settings; and researches public policy that supports sustainable, integrated, solid waste management systems. Student teams develop waste management strategies that culminate in a two-week IAP trip to Nicaragua where students will work with a local NGO and municipality, to assist in the implementation of waste management initiatives.

Instructor: Libby McDonald, Program Director, Global Sustainability Partnerships, CoLab
Time: Monday & Wednesday 10-11:30; Friday 2-4
Dates: Fall term (full)
Location: N51-310 (MW), 7-307 (F)
Web link:

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