Expanding Access to Thesis Research

by Peter Sigrist

MIT's CoLab Radio and Polis are teaming up to build a collection of Thesis Chronicles, or concise narratives of thesis projects by planning students from around the world. CoLab Radio has envisioned this as a platform for mutual exchange between research and practice. They explain:
Every year thousands of students hand their brains over to their thesis topics. They produce some of the freshest ideas on the world’s most pressing issues: energy efficiency, social justice, media, affordable housing, race, transportation, food distribution and general urban planning, among others. Most of the time, however, the final product lands on a shelf in a university library where few people ever find it or even know to look for it.

CoLab Radio wants thesis research to make it out to policy makers and into communities in an accessible form. Even if the right people were able to find your thesis, would they have time to read 100+ pages of the dense academic language that many theses use?  
That’s why we’re inviting any thesis writer from any university in any country to submit a concept for a thesis chronicles series this year.  Knowledge and research generated in academia should be accessible to and co-generated with people working on the ground; a blog series is one piece in making that possible. In addition, you’ll be able to get feedback on your work and be part of a national / international community of urban planning-related thesis writers.

Examples include John Arroyo's "Art, Civic Space, and Urban Design along the LA River" and Gayle Christiansen's "Camden: Small Businesses Transform Place." If you have a thesis project that would be of interest to readers of Polis and CoLab, please contact us at info@thepolisblog.org or colabradio@mit.edu. 

Credits: Images appear courtesy of John Arroyo and CoLab Radio.


  1. Polis - this is great! Thank you for including my thesis research as an example for future "Thesis Chronicles" bloggers. During the course of my thesis research and writing, my Thesis Chronicles blog helped connect me with various community actors and allowed me to further develop my interactive civic media piece (a mental mapping exercise). The one you've included here is by Leo Límon, an early artist and advocate on the L.A. River. The blog also allowed me the time to think and reflect on a different level.

    Just yesterday I learned about Departures LA River StoryShare Initiative, a new initiative from L.A.'s KCET (the Los Angeles Public Broadcasting Service affiliate).

    Overall, I'm glad to see so much momentum regarding civic media and the Los Angeles River.

  2. I enjoyed reading about your thesis, John. It's a fascinating project, beautifully illustrated in photos, drawings, and video. Also, thank you for the heads up on the LA River Story Share!

  3. so glad to see these two great blogs teaming up! so much potential here. Maybe someday I will write a thesis too, maybe not :)


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