Community Innovation Lab

Institution(s): Harvard

Discipline(s): Design

Faculty Member(s): Susan Crawford, Michael Hooper

Keyword(s): Digital Media

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This is a course on working with community partners to solve challenging civic problems. Through our combined efforts as the Community Innovation Lab, we will partner with the Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics and three dynamic community organizations in the Dudley and Upham’s Corner neighborhoods of Boston. Our goal is to find innovative ways to enhance work that is already being done by our community partners in the area and/or propose creative and locally-appropriate means of supporting initiatives that the community identifies as important. Dudley Square is our focal point, but the proposals we make and the prototypes we imagine should be scalable beyond its borders. The course emphasizes creativity and collaboration with the goal of providing students with the tools they need to grapple with real-life urban and civic challenges postgraduation. The lab emphasizes user-centered design and the application of technology to civic problems. The lab defines technology expansively to mean the application of science, craft and art to the improvement of life. This naturally includes digital technology but also includes other areas of engagement, ranging from physical design to art practice. Furthermore, what constitutes technology is constantly being redefined based on its applicability to human needs.