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Action Research

Town+Gown’s systemic action research program uses service (experiential) learning and faculty-directed research to facilitate partnerships between academics and practitioners on applied built environment research projects through the collaborative inquiry model of systemic action research.


Service (Experiential) Learning Component


    Town+Gown began by developing projects within service (experiential) learning programs at participating academic institutions. These in-kind exchanges, where students provide their newly learned skills and practitioners provide real problems with real data and other information to produce knowledge, are a vital component of the Town+Gown program.

    Town+Gown has created projects with formal experiential learning programs (such as studios, workshops, capstones, clinics, service learning programs), informal experiential learning engagements, master’s theses, doctoral dissertations, and graduate and undergraduate classes or components of these classes.

    Experiential learning engagements provide benefits to both students and practitioners. Watch our video to learn about the impact of a recent series of Fordham/Gabelli experiential learning engagements with DDC from both academic and practitioner perspectives. 

    See also this article.


  • Research Agenda

    The Research Agenda is a tool for Town+Gown and experiential learning program administrators, professors and students to use to begin a research project-based conversation. If you are interested in any of the proposed research project ideas in this 2021-2022 Action Research Agenda, please contact Terri Matthews, Director, at, and we can discuss how to tailor it to meet your needs for a specific project in 2021-2022. If the project goes “live” in 2021-2022, Town+Gown will strive to support the project by connecting the research team with practitioner experts, many of them City agency staff, publicly available data sets, general city government advice with respect to the project context, and setting up meetings, including mid-project and final presentations, with research team members. In exchange, Town+Gown will request final deliverables from the research team to enable Town+Gown to abstract the project in Building Ideas and use as a foundation for future Symposium events.

    If you have a research project idea not in the current research agenda, please contact Terri Matthews to discuss your idea—you may use the Research Question Worksheet if you find that helpful, but it is not necessary to use the worksheet to initiate the conversation.

Faculty-Directed Research Component

Faculty-directed research is accomplished through the Town+Gown Master Academic Consortium Contract and through third-party funded research, such as National Science Foundation grants focusing on New York City, for which Town+Gown is a named collaborator.


  • Gown Advisory Council

    The Consortium Contract created a Gown Advisory Council made up of representatives from the Consortium institutions. The members can access the Gown Advisory Council web page here. For additional information, researchers at Consortium institutions can contact the Director of Town+Gown or their respective representative to the Gown Advisory Council.


  • Third-Party Funded Research


    Town+Gown is available to become a named collaborator on third-party grant funded research projects. If a researcher is interested in exploring having Town+Gown as a named collaborator, please contact Terri Matthews, Director.


    • Sustainable Healthy Cities Network

      Town+Gown is a named collaborator with the Sustainable Healthy Cities Network, a $12 million National Science Foundation-funded sustainability research network led by the University of Minnesota, Columbia University and Georgia Institute of Technology, for which New York City one of the “test bed” cities.  Integrated Urban Infrastructure Solutions for Environmentally Sustainable, Healthy, and Livable Cities, the network’s overall project, conducts scientific research to permit cities to reimagine their urban infrastructure—energy grids, road networks, green spaces, and food and water systems—and remain highly functional and desirable places to live and work, while promoting the health of residents and the environment.


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