Tufts University Announces Three-Year Collaboration with Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI)

Community and university to partner in teaching and research
September 27, 2017

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Kalimah Redd Knight

MEDFORD/SOMERVILLE, Mass.(Sept. 27, 2017) – Tufts University and the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) today announced the launch of an innovative, community-based collaboration for teaching and research. Recognizing that a multi-year approach holds the potential for greater impact, the Co-Research/Co-Education (CORE) program is a three-year initiative that integrates joint learning, research, and action.

The agreement is built on almost three decades of collaboration between the Tufts University Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning (UEP) and DSNI. With support from Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, the collaboration is growing to include a Practicum course, support for summer internships for students, and the development of research strategies for community-based sustainable and just local economic development. Since 1990, a DSNI co-founder and board member became a UEP lecturer, 13 UEP student teams have conducted semester-long Field Projects, two UEP graduates have become DSNI staff, and 5 DSNI staff, including 2 Executive Directors have entered UEP’s mid-career master’s program.

 “We’ve had such a long relationship, yet we never planned our collaboration more than a year at a time,” said Tufts Senior Lecturer Penn Loh. “This new model will allow us to learn from previous initiatives, and build on them to expand our work together in more innovative and sustainable ways.”

 “As a graduate of UEP’s Master of Public Policy program, I know that Tufts can bring fresh thinking and help create a learning space for us to continue our community innovations,” said DSNI Executive Director Juan Leyton. “Tufts has been a respectful community partner that values our expertise and time, and now we know we can count on their partnership over the next three years.”

Alan Solomont, Dean of Tisch College, noted that “Tisch College is proud to support this groundbreaking collaboration, which will provide transformational learning experiences for our students and generate new knowledge from community research. Over the long-term, we believe that community-based initiatives like this one can help advance positive social change and recruit more diverse students and faculty to Tufts.”

Tufts and DSNI co-designed a Practicum course this Fall for both Tufts students and community practitioners to learn together about strategies for building community-controlled economies. Students will be undertaking projects to support DSNI and its partners to convert the former Citizens Bank building in Uphams Corner into a commercial development that can generate jobs and economic opportunities for residents. DSNI’s land trust recently acquired the building and is working with City of Boston on planning the future of Uphams Corner.

Ben Baldwin went to work for DSNI on their land trust staff after graduating from Tufts UEP and represents the learning and career development that are possible with these kinds of partnerships. Ben said “this kind of collaboration is why I chose to come to Tufts in the first place. I was able to learn about DSNI as part of a Field Projects team and then continued working with them as a Tisch Summer Fellow. The second year of my master’s program culminated in a master’s thesis where I did research for DSNI. Now, I have the privilege of working here as a staff.”

Joceline Fidalgo, DSNI’s Development Director and a former youth member who was born and raised in the neighborhood and who recently started UEP’s master of public policy program added, “I would never have considered going back for my masters at Tufts without having seen their students and faculty working with us here at DSNI. I’m an example of how a deep partnership can blur the boundaries between community and university because now I wear both hats.”

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About Tufts University

Tufts University (http://www.tufts.edu/), located on three Massachusetts campuses in Boston, Medford/Somerville and Grafton, and in Talloires, France, is recognized as one of the premier research universities in the United States. Tufts enjoys a global reputation for academic excellence and for the preparation of students as leaders in a wide range of professions. A growing number of innovative teaching and research initiatives span all Tufts campuses, and collaboration among the faculty and students in the undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs across the university’s schools is widely encouraged.

Tufts Department of Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning (UEP) is an interdisciplinary professional master’s department founded in 1973 to address integrated problems of urban development, social policy, land use planning, and environmental concerns. Accredited in urban planning, UEP was recently ranked #1 in the country among planning programs without a PhD by Planetizen. Learn more at http://as.tufts.edu/uep/ and http://www.practical-visionaries.org/.

About Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University

The only university-wide college of its kind, the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life offers transformational student learning and service opportunities, conducts groundbreaking research on young people’s civic and political participation, and forges innovative community partnerships. Its work is guided by two core beliefs: that communities, nations and the world are stronger, more prosperous, and more just when citizens actively participate in civic and democratic life; and that higher education has a responsibility to develop the next generation of active citizens. Learn more: http://tischcollege.tufts.edu and @TischCollege.

About Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI)

Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI) is a nationally renowned pioneer in community-driven urban revitalization, formed in 1984 by residents in the Roxbury/North Dorchester neighborhoods in response to disinvestment that had left more than 1/5 of the neighborhood’s land vacant. Over more than 30 years, DSNI has transformed that vacant land into a community land trust of more than 30 acres, on which it has developed 226 affordable homes, a 10,000 square foot community greenhouse, community gardens, an urban farm, town center, and playgrounds. DSNI remains the only community group in the nation to be delegated eminent domain powers by a municipality. Learn more at https://www.dsni.org/.