Transforming Cities and Minds Through the Scholarship of Engagement

co-sponsored by:
CoLab logo Talloires2

March 27, 2013

Session Description:

How can graduate students write theses that won’t end up moldering on library shelves? In this session, Hoyt, Christiansen and Mackres make the case that the graduate thesis in many academic disciplines, including city planning, is an antiquated feature of the curriculum in need of modernizing.

Together, they will tell the story of how six graduate students in M.I.T.'s Department of Urban Studies and Planning worked together with faculty, staff, and civic leaders in six U.S. cities on what came to be known as the collaborative thesis project. In addition to producing a thesis that focused on issues of economy, equity and the environment, students disseminated their work in alternative formats including technical guides, short films, blog posts, and public presentations inside and outside the university. They also co-produced an edited volume entitled Transforming Cities and Minds Through the Scholarship of Engagement scheduled for release by Vanderbilt University Press in April 2013. This session will highlight recommendations for those interested in replicating similar projects within their own settings.  


9-Hoyt 9b-Christiansen 9a-Makres
Lorlene Hoyt
Director of Programs and Research, Talloires Network
Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning,
Tufts University
  Gayle Christiansen
21st Century Community Learning Center Program at Rutgers University
  Eric Mackres
Local Policy Manager and Senior Researcher
American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy


About the Presenters:

Lorlene Hoyt is the Director of Programs and Research for the Talloires Network and teaches in the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University. From 2002-2011, she was Assistant Professor and then Associate Professor of Urban Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). While at M.I.T., Hoyt founded and led MIT@Lawrence, a sustained city-campus partnership between M.I.T. and the City of Lawrence, Massachusetts. MIT@Lawrence was recognized when she received the Ernest A. Lynton Award for the Scholarship of Engagement (2007) and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award (2008), and the partnership received the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll (2007) and the Massachusetts Campus Compact Presidents' Community Partnership Award (2011).

Gayle Christiansen creates and supervises internship opportunities for North Philadelphia teens at Project H.O.M.E., an organization working to end homelessness and poverty in Philadelphia. She also facilitates the creation of student-run entrepreneurial ventures, (like a record label, clothing line, and farmers market,) with the assistance of regional business leaders. Prior to joining Project H.O.M.E., Christiansen taught middle-school science in Camden, New Jersey; in her spare time, she contributes to Hidden City Philadelphia.
Christiansen earned a Master's in City Planning from M.I.T. and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Kenyon College. Her master’s research investigates the overlooked contribution of Camden, New Jersey small businesses to the city’s redevelopment.

Eric Makres works on local and community energy efficiency initiatives with the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). He provides technical assistance to communities that are beginning or expanding energy efficiency efforts. In addition, he manages ACEEE research related to local implementation of energy efficiency. Prior to joining ACEEE in 2010, Makres worked in environmental organizing with the StatePIRGs in Michigan and on state-wide affordable housing policy in California.
Makres earned a Master's in City Planning and a Certificate of Environmental Planning from M.I.T. and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Albion College. His master’s research and contribution to this project focuses on community-labor-utility partnerships for local energy efficiency implementation.