On Sunday, April 10th, 2011, MIT@Lawrence partners participated in a Local Host Committee Track session for the American Planning Association’s 2011 National Planning Conference. The session, entitled “Revitalizing Postindustrial Cities Through City-University Partnerships,” covered recent accomplishments and challenges from both the city and university sides of the partnership.
During the session, MIT@Lawrence partners premiered a video made by MIT graduate student Jeffrey Juárez-Araniva that reviewed the two practica courses that took place during the 2010 calendar year:
The accomplishments highlighted during the APA session were:
• Adding manpower and capacity to the City of Lawrence: much of what the students do is work that folks in the City would do themselves if they had the staff or time. Nonetheless, some of what the students do is complex and intellectually rigorous work that is a unique learning opportunity for the students that also provides a unique service for the City.
• Generating implementable solutions, which are hard to create in public-private partnerships
• Overcoming the “do what you know” approach: in many classes, students just crunch what they know — do what they have done before. The students did do that to an extent in the MIT@Lawrence practicum, but they also really broke out and realized all of the deeper connections, and that ability to work together allowed each of them to develop new skills.
• Building genuine relationships with new partners in the City, such as Peter Blanchette in the Department of Inspectional Services
• Incorporating youth into the practicum work: at first, it seemed illogical to talk to 13-year-old kids about something as complicated as the foreclosure crisis and intricate financial products, but that step was key to really understanding what is happening on the ground and getting expert knowledge about perceptions in the community
• Tying the MIT@Lawrence practicum back to other classes at MIT with real world applications of theoretical concepts, which spur questions that need to be asked in other classes
• Fostering a long-range investment: students and faculty are involved year-round, and the alumni network is strong and connected
Two days after the APA conference session, on Tuesday, April 12th, MIT@Lawrence participants headed to UMass Boston to participate in the Massachusetts Campus Compact (MACC) Civic Engagement Showcase.
MIT students Polina Bakhteiarov and Najah Shakir.
MACC is a nonprofit coalition of 70 college and university presidents committed to developing the civic skills of students, building partnerships with the community, and integrating civic engagement with teaching and research.
MIT@Lawrence won the inaugural MACC Presidents’ Community Partnership Award for sustained innovative partnerships between member campuses and a local school or non-profit organization. Lasell College/The Second Step were also honored with the award.
Finally, from May 18th to May 21st, MIT graduate student Polina Bakhteiarov represented MIT@Lawrence at the 2011 Planners Network International Conference in Memphis, Tennessee, where she presented a poster about the partnership’s work.
Post by Polina Bakhteiarov.