Community partnerships have been an integral part of Tufts Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning (UEP) since its founding in 1973. In 2016, UEP launched a new multi-year partnership model, called Co-Research/Co-Education Partnerships (CoRE), with long-time partner Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative (DSNI). This CoRE partnership builds on a 25-year history of collaboration. Over the next 3 years, DSNI and UEP will work together to learn about, research, develop, and implement strategies for community-controlled sustainable and just local economic development, with a focus on the food economy and community land trusts. The partnership will integrate various elements, including annual Field Projects, summer fellowships for students, a co-designed Practicum course, student master’s theses, and various research and training projects.

What is CoRE?

CoRE (Co-Research/Co-Education Partnerships) is a collaborative model of community-engaged research, learning, participation, and action that goes beyond traditional models of service learning and university/community partnerships. CoRE builds off the pilot program Practical Visionaries Workshop (PVW) that launched in 2011. CoRE expands and solidifies the powerful arena PVW created for community-based student learning, professional development, research and strategy on just and sustainable economic development and community-driven planning, and intercultural practice through integrating community partners into UEP and creating a pipeline for greater racial diversity and community practitioners from Boston’s base-building organizations in lower income communities of color.

CoRE is built on UEP’s rich history of community practice which includes the department’s cutting edge partnerships with local community organizations as well as Tufts’ broader commitment to active citizenship.  CoRE values are founded on UEP’s commitment to social justice and its goal to cultivate ‘practical visionaries’ who contribute to the development of inclusive, just, and sustainable communities.

How Does CoRE Work?

CoRE moves beyond the typical one-off project model of community engagement towards a more reciprocal, place-based model in which both university and community partners ‘co-learn’ and ‘co-produce’ knowledge.  University and community partners jointly collaborate to develop long-term visions and plans that promote a transformational, co-learning environment for community, students, and faculty to take action on critical issues. Community partners are  co-researchers and co-educators, and help plan around UEP’s in-kind resources such as field projects, student internships, and theses, which are strategically integrated to advance the long-term goals and visions between partner organizations and UEP.

Principles of CoRE

Fundamental principles of CoRE include

  1. long-term sustained partnerships grounded in trust and mutual accountability;
  2. democratizing research and pedagogy, and challenging power relations in who are seen as legitimate producers of knowledge;
  3. learning through praxis and from practitioners, where engagement is seen as an important aspect of scholarship, and research informs practice, and in practice the validity of research is tested;
  4. an evolving praxis that sees co-learning as a dynamic process embedded in the social and political context and historical processes;
  5. addresses interconnected social problems by approaching problems through integrated social and political frameworks and interdisciplinary practice;
  6. and access for community members into universities as a basis of excellence, rather than separate from diversity and accessibility initiatives.