Labs & Centers

The MIT Community Innovators Lab (CoLab) supports faculty and students to work with low-income and excluded people around the world, tapping their energy, creativity, and in-depth knowledge of the issues they face to tackle poverty, climate change, and mass urbanization. Launched in 2007, CoLab is a platform for faculty and student collaboration on field-based projects working with departments, laboratories, and centers across the Institute, supporting action research, while providing important resources to community leaders.  

CoLab offers support, instruction and tools--practice-based classes, study groups, tutoring, coaching, mentoring, as well as IAP courses in reflective practice, civic engagement, action research, use of social media, storytelling and visual mapping--to help students embed and apply technical learning in real societal contexts, equipping them with the tools they will need to take leadership roles in an increasingly complex world.   Its dense network of innovative practitioners in the US, Latin America and the Caribbean augment faculty instruction with field-based coaching, helping to train the next-generation of practitioners and scholars committed to addressing social exclusion and sustainability—two of the greatest global challenges of our time.

In addition to work in communities, CoLab hosts regular programs that bring nationally-recognized leaders to share their work and help inform the Institute’s research agenda. The Mel King Community Fellows Program convenes an annual cohort of advanced practitioners from a range of relevant fields who are grappling with challenges of equitable and sustainable development.  CoLab also provides community and industry leaders with private deliberative space in which they can explore emerging issues, while allowing students up-close opportunities to participate in collaborative brainstorming sessions. Along with CoLab workshops, CoLab Radio (the center's blog) and on-line programming, roundtables, speaker series, and lunchtime talks, these activities enliven and enrich the Institute’s intellectual community by infusing it with a powerful diversity of voices and insights.

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CoLab Staff

  • Dayna Cunningham, Executive Director
  • Christina Ruhfel, Comunications and Operations Manager, CoLab
  • Jasmine Bellitti, Administrative Assistant II
  • Alyssa Bryson, Program Director, Puerto Rico/Caribbean Development Initiative
  • Nick Iuviene, Program Director, Just Urban Economies
  • Libby McDonald, Program Director, Global Sustainability Partnerships
  • Brendan McEwen, Project Coordinator, Green Economic Development Initiative
  • Alexa Mills, Program Director, Media Projects (and Executive Editor, CoLab Radio)