The Community Innovators Lab’s Mel King Community Fellows Program is dedicated to the legacy of Mel King, a still-active champion of cities and the communities they comprise. Mel King initiated the Community Fellows Program in 1970 when he was an adjunct professor at MIT. The program offered Fellows a year-long sabbatical at MIT, where they could reflect, conduct research, acquire skills, and build new relationships.
The CoLab Mel King Community Fellows program builds on a 40-year-old tradition of bridging practice-based knowledge and academic research. Mel King Fellows are recognized leaders in communities across the country and have experience in a range of social justice pursuits. The program’s goal is to create a dispersed learning network among the Fellows for co-creating knowledge. Through two to three two-day convenings at MIT, as well as field-based learning journeys and peer learning opportunities, the program provides participants an opportunity to examine:
- Models of community planning and development that advance community wellbeing via urban sustainability, democractic partipaition, and shared wealth generation;
- Shifts in methods and approaches that will be required by these new models, including via culture, arts and Emerging aesthetic practices; and
- Tools and practices that will aid them in collaborative innovation and knowledge-sharing
Each class of Mel King Fellows has a substantive focus related to economic democracy,community well-being and the future of cities. To date, CoLab has hosted five classes of Mel King Community Fellows: base-building organizations, labor and worker centers, socially engaged artists, and socially responsible bankers. The current class of MKCF is comprised of social justice movement leaders across the Americas who will explore common questions of economic democracy across the throughout the region.
Mel King Community Fellows are nominated by peers, members of the academy, foundation officers and others. Fellows are rigorously vetted by MIT CoLab and approved by CoLab’s Faculty Council, comprised of senior MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning faculty. Criteria include:
- Demonstrated commitment to social and economic equity, racial, ethnic and gender inclusion, and community participation, particularly of historically marginalized groups, in planning the future of cities
- Track record of experience with community engagement
- Demonstrated interest in working collaboratively to examine links between theory and local practice
- Clear and well-developed individual or collective project to explore issues related to urban sustainability, democratic participation and shared wealth generation
Once appointed, each Fellow is assigned a faculty member to support their project, link them to relevant MIT resources, and to ensure sufficient connection between the Department or School faculty, students and the Fellows’ work.
Through two to three two-day convenings at MIT, as well as field-based learning journeys and peer learning opportunities, the Mel King Community Fellows program provides participants an opportunity to examine:
- Connections between markets and democracy and how market based activities can help advance democratic participation
- Emerging models of community planning and development that advance urban sustainability
- Shifts in methods and approaches that will be required by these new models
- Reflective practice methods that will aid them in collaborative innovation and knowledge-sharing
Each class of Mel King Fellows has a substantive focus related to economic democracy and the future of cities.
Current Mel King Community Fellow Project
Class of 2016-2017: Transnational Economic Democracy
Previous Mel King Community Fellow Projects
Class of 2015: Values-Based Banking
Class of 2014: Art + Social Change
Class of 2013: Community Organizing + Labor
Class of 2012: Sustainable Economic Development
Class of 2011: Community Organizing + Economic Development