Urban Action Lab

Bridging the Academic and Professional Worlds

Urban Action Lab is a course that challenges students to take on real challenges within the greater Boston community. Partnering with community-based organizations and government, this experiential learning course guides students as they act as consultants, solving real-world problems through research, analysis, and collaboration. It's a capstone experience offered in the Fall and Spring semesters and requires permission to enroll.

Become a Partner

Interested in partnering with us? Please contact the teaching team: Neil McCullagh and Taylor Perkins.

Featured Projects

The Corcoran Center Urban Action Lab developed recommendations during the 2020-2021 academic year as part of an ongoing project to strengthen the Codman Square Business District. Students and professors from the Corcoran Center for Real Estate and Urban Action researched several forms to ensure the proposals for economic development considered legitimate neighborhood input and reflected neighborhood data.
indigo block plan
Billy Kan '20 worked with Dorchester Bay Economic Development to create an online hub for Uphams Corner.
indigo block plan
Working with the Lincoln Land Institute, the Urban Action Lab analyzed commuter rail lines in eastern Massachusetts. Addressing the regional housing shortage, the lab identified areas close to rail stations that could provide badly needed additional housing for the region, while also providing walkable access to sustainable rail transit into the urban core.
indigo block plan
Working with the Boston Housing Authority and the Massachusetts Housing Partnership, the Urban Action Lab analyzed an existing Boston public housing site and created a concept for an equitable, mixed-income redevelopment that created homeownership and entrepreneurship opportunities for neighborhood residents. Note: This document was created at Boston College for academic purposes
indigo block plan
Working with Caribbean Integration Community Development, the Urban Action Lab analyzed and reported on the Caribbean Population in Greater Boston
indigo block plan
Working with Trustees of the Reservation, the Urban Action Lab analyzed and reported on Lessons for Equitable Park Development on the Boston Waterfront
trustee image

Neighborhood Engagement

By working through partners in the Boston Areas, the Corcoran Center engages students in experiential learning, which drives student understanding of multidisciplinary collaboration and delivers positive social impact. Past activities include:

Working with dozens of community-based organizations to host successful and impactful summer internships 

Urban Action labs have supported several projects in Boston neighborhoods:

  • Economic Development Planning through longitudinal partnerships with community-based organizations
  • Reimagined development concept of large-scale mixed-income community in partnership with Mass Housing and Boston Housing Authority
  • Developed Demographic study of Boston Metropolitan Area Caribbeans 
  • Study of Urban Agriculture and innovation that would improve operations and production

 Real Estate Field Projects teams developed options for Churches, blighted theaters, and strategically advantageous placemaking initiatives

 Days of Service in Mattapan in coordination with student volunteer groups

  • Corcoran Center students digitally restored historical images of VFW and American Legion post-commanders dating back to 1919
  • Several years of support of BC Children's Theater performances in Boston neighborhood schools.
  • Cleaning, painting, and updating classrooms and offices for Mattahunt Elementary School in partnership with BC Volunteer and Service Learning groups.

 Mattapan faith-based organizations, parents, pastors, and youth leaders are invited to BC Artsfest.

On-Campus Partners

School of Social Work

Connell School of Nursing

Boston College Volunteer and Service Learning Center

4Boston

BC Theater Department

Carroll School of Management

Environmental Studies Program

Featured Students

Colin Cross
Colin Cross
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Colin Cross

Colin Cross

Colin's Urban Action Lab project was completed with Caribbean Integration Community Development, a local community development corporation. Utilizing census and other data Colin performed an analysis of the Caribbean population in several greater Boston communities, highlighting the strengths of the Caribbean Population as well as additional areas for focus and investment moving forward. 

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Natalie Hoy

Natalie Hoy

Natalie completed her Urban Action Lab project with the Trustees of Reservations, one of the oldest and largest nonprofit conservation organizations in the country. Working with the Trustee's One Waterfront Initiative, Natalie immersed herself in the world of urban parks and their effects on communities and the economy. Focused creating and equitable and inclusive public space, Natalie prepared a report analyzing potential locations for a waterfront park in Boston and their effects on surrounding communities.

Timothy Morrissey
Timothy Morrissey
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Timothy Morrissey

Timothy Morrissey

Tim's Urban Action Lab project created a redevelopment concept for an existing Boston Public Housing Authority property. Beginning with concepts developed by students in another Corcoran Center Course, Tim synthesized them and through research, analysis, and consultations with experts developed a concept for an equitable, inclusive redevelopment. Tim then worked with an architecture and urban planning firm to create a site plan and renderings of the proposed redevelopment.

Mattapan Improv Workshop

Student improv workshop