Diverse perspectives lead to better results. Community members and university researchers think differently about problems. Faculty members and practitioners from different fields take different approaches. All of these perspectives are equally needed in order to address and solve the issues our communities face. Tisch College serves as a unique convener of stakeholders—bringing everyone to the table and creating an environment conducive to communication and collaboration.
Building off Tisch College’s ten-year track record of evaluating needs, aligning assets and developing mutually beneficial partnerships between Tufts and its host communities, Project PERIS is an innovative model for university community collaboration that engages students, faculty and community partners in planning, priority setting and service delivery to address rapidly emerging or changing needs. Made possible by a grant from Learn and Serve America of the Corporation of National and Community Service, Project PERIS has supported 23 courses and 26 summer fellowships, engaging 264 students, 11 faculty and 20 community co-educators. Working on topics such as K–12 school reform, homelessness and urban planning, students have undertaken qualitative and quantitative research, ethnographic interviews, community engagement and social media development.
In one partnership between Kevin Irwin, lecturer of community health, School of Arts and Sciences and Mark Alston-Follansbee, executive director of the Somerville Homeless Coalition, students focus on issues of homelessness, housing and food insecurity. After researching the greatest needs of the local homeless population, students learned that there was no centralized system for mapping shelters, food pantries or other service providers. This information was needed not only by underserved members of the community, but by service providers who need to know what other services exist and how resources can best be accessed. Meeting this need, students developed an online Google map that delivers this information.
“It’s easy to be an activist on a college campus, but it requires something more to become an advocate in the world beyond,” Irwin said. “We strive to equip students with a full set of tools to integrate social justice into whatever professional path they take.”
Download the pdf of the Tisch College 2010-2011 annual report.