About the Community Design and Learning Initiative


In 2018, the Harvard Graduate School of Design established the Community Design and Learning Initiative (CDLI). 

CDLI responds to calls by students and community constituents alike for tighter links between teaching, research, practice, and activism. It builds on the GSD’s design studio and research tradition, spans different programs, and involves students, fellows, alumni, and faculty in matching the appetite and resources for applied projects within the GSD with collaborative opportunities from nonprofits, community groups, civic organizations, and government agencies in Greater Boston and beyond. Aligned with our Community Values Statement and Dean’s Diversity Initiative, the CDLI aims to enhance the community relevance and impact of urban planning and design education and training at the GSD as well as deepen pedagogical and learning experiences. 

Program elements include: 

(1) A curricular strategy focused on applied studios and other courses that incorporate more substantial community engagement

(2) Database of recent and potential community partners

(3) Career development opportunities for students through internships, mentorships, and job shadowing involving community partners,

(4) Web publication showcasing final outputs from community-engaged planning and design studios as well as projects by students and faculty.