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Action Research for a Better World

We are academics and scholar-practitioners devoted to collective action research and impactful partnerships that cut across sectors and lead to positive social change and environmental restoration. We work with constellations of partners from government, non-profit, social movements, community groups and individuals, private firms and academics. Project goals are determined collaboratively and are driven by the goals of our partners ‘on the ground’ and most close to the action.


Our action research starts by defining projects and working with students on intensive preparation and development of a project proposal. For seven weeks, project teams at WPI study design thinking and community engagement, steep themselves in the current state of knowledge related to the project domain and context, and develop a project plan, engaging with project liaisons on site. Teams then spend seven weeks on site, engaging with project partners and communities, studying complex social and institutional contexts and community needs, and iteratively designing, reflecting, analyzing, and prototyping, depending on the goals of the project.


Collaboration and engagement are our first principles. We believe that effective outcomes will emerge when the process invites voices to the table and includes multiple viewpoints in designs. And if we spend all our time cultivating partnerships and never getting to project goals, then we’re that much better prepared for the next project.