Co-Learning for Environmental Justice

The New Solutions Journal recently published an article I wrote on “Community University Collaborations for Environmental Justice”. This piece lays out a model for deep, transformative, co-learning between community and university. It is based on the partnerships that I have been building at Tufts Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning over the past six years and which has resulted in the Co-Research/Co-Education Partnership (CoRE) model. My thanks go to the Tisch College for Civic Life, which provided me a Faculty Fellowship and a symposium to develop and share this model. The link to the article and the abstract are below.

Loh, Penn. 2016. Community-University Collaborations for Environmental Justice: Towards a Transformative Co-Learning Model. New Solutions Journal, 26(3): 412-428.


Community–university collaborations for environmental justice have pushed the boundaries of the modern research university, yet remain rooted in a research frame. This article lays out a transformative co-learning model, which aspires to cultivate long-term, place-based, reciprocal partnerships where university and community co-produce knowledge and action toward a more just, sustainable, and democratic society. Starting with joint inquiry and planning, community and university integrate teaching, research, and service activities over a cycle of three to five years and, if sustained, coevolve in place over the decades. Co-learning partnerships can anchor transformational learning, support community-based research, address critical community issues, and diversify the university. Tufts Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning has recently developed a three-year co-learning partnership model with long-time partner Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative. Yet, challenges still remain in resourcing community partners, valuing local anchoring, aligning university rewards with co-learning, and ensuring that community benefits are prioritized.


Greater Boston Community Land Trust Network Launched

Tufts UEP Lecturer Penn Loh and UEP Field Project students have been partnering to support the Greater Boston Community Land Trust Network. A report by a UEP Field Project student team was released at the Network’s launch on April 27, 2016 — Building a Livable Boston April2016ver. The report outlines the potential benefits of community land trusts in Boston and policy recommendations for the City. Loh and Network coordinator Eliza Parad were interviewed on Boston Neighborhood Network News April 20, 2016 (BNN News Interview). Other coverage of the launch can be found in the Dorchester Reporter and Next City.

GBCLTN Launch rpt cover

The Network is facilitated by the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative and includes Chinatown Community Land Trust, City Life/Vida Urbana, The Coalition for Occupied Homes in Foreclosure (COHIF), Dudley Neighbors, Inc., Mattapan United, New England United for Justice, The Urban Farming Institute, Greater Bowdoin/Geneva Neighborhood Association, Alternatives for Community and Environment and Boston Tenant Coalition.

Fall 2015 Tufts UEP Practicum: Community Control and Ownership Strategies for Boston

Community partners and graduate students are invited to participate in a new course for Fall 2015, the Tufts UEP Practicum (UEP293-09). This is a community-university co-learning opportunity that builds on the Practical Visionaries Workshop started in 2011. The theme of this Fall’s Practicum is Community Control and Ownership Strategies for Boston. Our primary partner is the Greater Boston Community Land Trust Network, which includes Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, Chinese Progressive Association, Coalition of Occupied Houses in Foreclosure, Urban Farming Institute of Boston, and the Right to the City Alliance. This Practicum will help the Network develop financing and policy strategies, as well as support the initiatives of specific partners. Co-learning will focus on causes of urban displacement, theories of community control and the “right to the city”, solidarity economy and economic democracy frameworks and practices, and the theory and practice of community land trusts.
We will meet most every Monday 9-11:30am from September 14 to December 7. There will be an initial orientation at DSNI on Sep 21 and then 2 sessions on weeks of Oct 26 and Nov 30 that will be designed with and for the Greater Boston CLT Network. This is an opportunity for community partners to develop deeper understanding of critical community issues to inform strategy and action and gain space and time for reflection and relationship building.

Download the detailed syllabus here.

Please contact if you are interested or have any questions.