Posted March 9th 2010 at 12:14 am by
in CoLab Philosophy, Collaborative Thesis Project

What is a Collaborative Thesis?

Above, the collaborative thesis group enjoys a four-hour ‘mini-retreat’ at CoLab.

Each member of the collaborative thesis group is writing a thesis related to civic engagement, shared-wealth generation, or urban sustainability in an American city.  All six group members are second-year masters student in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT,

The group has been meeting since the fall, and currently meets once a week at CoLab under the direction of Professor Lorlene Hoyt, who designed the vision for the group and advises most of its participants.

The cities they cover between them are: Oakland, California; Kansas City, Missouri; Lawrence and Lowell, Massachusetts; The Bronx Bronx, New York; Cleveland, Ohio; Camden, New Jersey and Boston, Massachusetts.

The group aims to take the concept of a masters thesis, a document that requires a great deal of time to prepare but is often relegated to a university library shelf, and elevate it to a dynamic product that can be useful to the cities it examines.  Each thesis writer will make a technical assistance document and media piece to supplement her research.  These additional products are designed to reach practitioners and community members.

In yesterday’s meeting, the group devoted one hour to each of three group members, examining their research and writing.  The students were engaged and active for the duration of the meeting because they are invested in each others work.  Their blackboard brainstorm was vigorous:

Next week, the group will do the same for the remaining three members.  Stay tuned for more updates and final products in May.

Photos by Anne Emig.

2 responses to “What is a Collaborative Thesis?”

  1. […] cool stuff coming out of CoLab at MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning – including a collaborative thesis group, working to create a thesis document that doesn’t just end up on the shelf: The group aims to […]

  2. Frank says:

    A dynamic, useful thesis sounds great. Is anyone publishing as they go – incrementally, or sharing notes or other materials?

    I blogged (very briefly) about this over on

    Looking forward to hearing more in the next updates.

  3. Marianna Leavy-Sperounis says:

    Thanks for your comment Frank! Gayle has been posting her findings under the Camden category here on colabradio, so definitely check out her stuff there. All of us are also planning to submit chapters for an edited volume that Lorlene will be working on this summer.

    In next week’s group meeting, we’ll be diving headfirst into a discussion of the themes that cut across our theses. Should be very interesting, and telling (we hope) about the nature of green/equitable economic planning as it’s happening in real time in our cities.

    We’ll keep you posted!