Students in the MUP program engage with communities in a variety of ways – through workshops and studios, internships and summer opportunities, student groups, volunteering, and elective classes.

Workshops and Studios

2nd Semester Core Planning Studio engages with real world planning problems. In spring 2013 the studio has focused on creating a downtown plan for the City of Malden, an inner suburb with a vibrant immigrant community. In spring 2014, the core studio worked with the City of Chelsea to produce a plan that incorporated extensive community engagement and outreach in suggesting three visions for the future of the city.

Option studios also do practical work, for example:
The Flexible Leviathan: Reconsidering Scale and Fixity in the Contemporary Metropolis (Spring 2013) seeks to produce a vision for Centro Oriente in Mexico City and examine the meaning of sustainable urbanism in large cities while also engaging the real world context of urban policy-making through urban planning and design interventions.

The Storm, the Strife, and Everyday Life: Sea Change in the Suburbs (Fall 2014) compiled community outreach in Long Island to produce new visions, strategies, and tools for the contemporary US suburb.

Thesis Projects often focus on outreach work, for example:
Kate Balug (MUP '11) looked at artistic practices as a mode of planning engagement in Dorchester and compared this with “standard” planning approaches.

Jessica Yurkofsky (MUP '12) conducted extensive interviews and engagement with LGBT senior communities in the Boston metro area as part of her thesis.

Internships and Summer Opportunities

The Community Service Fellowship Program provides opportunities for students to extend their design education through direct involvement with projects that address public needs and community concerns at the local level.

International Community Service Fellowship Program helps GSD students travel to overseas destinations to perform community service throughout the year, in projects of varying durations.

The Joint Center for Housing Studies Fellowships provide students an opportunity to study housing related topics with practical applications.

South Asia Initiative offers funding for students to conduct research, perform fieldwork, participate in internships, and pursue study of South Asian languages.

David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies offers travel grants for dissertation research and internships in Latin America.

Other internships are available in Boston and beyond.

Student Groups

The Harvard Urban Planning Organization (HUPO) organizes lectures and events and coordinates volunteer opportunities for planning students.


The Community Development Project is an interdisciplinary student-run organization that brings public policy, planning, and architecture students together to work as consultants with community partners working to empower traditionally underserved populations. Past clients have ranged from Baptist Town, Mississippi, to Somali immigrants in Lewiston Maine, to the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter in Cambridge.

GSD Green Design is a platform to critically engage discourse of sustainability in the built environment while supporting other student groups’ sustainability efforts.

The Esplanade Association works to improve the Esplanade in Boston.

(Park)ing Day is an annual event where community members transform metered parking spots into temporary parks.
Project Link creates opportunities for local high school students to learn about issues related to design and planning through workshops coordinated and run by GSD students.

Citizen Schools is a local after-school program that allows planners to engage with and teach middle school students about the urban planning, policy, and design fields.
Other Classes

Other Courses

The Urban Planning program runs several project-based courses each year.