About Us

The Engagement Lab at Emerson College is an applied research and design lab that investigates and creates media and technology to reduce disparities in civic participation.

We work with partners to co-design solutions to the most pressing problems in democracy and governance, including participation gaps, gender or racial discrimination, lack of basic media literacies, youth exclusion and gaps in public health practices. From playing games, to making media, to running campaigns, we create opportunities for people to creatively participate in civic life. Whether they are used in classrooms or town squares, the tools and processes we develop make civic engagement meaningful for citizens and communities.

Our Work


We are committed to participatory research and design methods that involve partners in every stage of a project, including data collection, analysis and results. We disseminate our research findings through academic journals, books, public and scholarly presentations, reports, and public presentations.


We lead workshops on public engagement, civic games, data literacy, and media literacy. Through our workshops and consultations, we offer creative solutions to civic and community-based organizations looking to navigate cultural and technological transformations.


We develop digital and analog tools for classrooms, organizations, and community groups that provide on-ramps for civic learning and engagement. The Engagement Lab’s tools contribute to a media culture that promotes creativity and problem solving in civic life.

Recent examples of our tools include:

- DataBasic, a suite of easy-to-use web tools for beginners that introduces concepts of working with data

- @Stake, a digital role-playing game that builds empathy and creativity for small group deliberation

- Emerging Citizens, a suite of media literacy party-style games for kids.


We host an intensive 12-month graduate program, Civic Media, Art & Practice (CMAP), that trains civic media practitioners to transform organizations through creative uses of media and technology. Students produce a creative thesis that takes them through the entire lifecycle of a civic media project, from research and design to implementation.

Art/Design Projects

We create both design and art projects that instigate dialogue and imagination about pressing civic issues. The Engagement Lab’s art and design projects prototype alternate futures and social relationships in playful, participatory ways.

Collaborate + Work With Us

We work directly with partner communities to design and facilitate civic engagement processes, augment stakeholder deliberation, and broaden the diversity of participants in local decision-making. For more information on how to work with us, contact engagementlab@emerson.edu. Subscribe to our newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/dBEgfr.

Students and Researchers

The Engagement Lab is always looking for exemplary students. Emerson undergraduates can work on directed studies with lab faculty, or apply for lab assistantships. We are accepting applications for our 1-year MA program in Civic Media Art and Practice (CMAP).

Community Based Partnerships

The Engagement Lab is dedicated to fostering meaningful and mutual relationships with organizations or individuals committed to positive social impact. Partnership opportunities include: graduate studio courses, specific design or research projects, workshops or organizational capacity building.

Engagement Lab Logo

Our Partners

The Berkman Center
Boston Public Schools
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Cape Cod Commission
Citi Foundation
Detroit Works Project
Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative
Institute for Community Health
Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Center
Knight Foundation
Living Cities
MacArthur Foundation
Metropolitan Area Planning Council
The Office of New Urban Mechanics
North Shore Community Development Coalition
Philadelphia City Planning Commision
The Pearson Foundation
The Teagle Foundation
The World Bank Group
Tufts University
World Wildlife Fund
PLAN International
Mary Anne Charity Trust
Indian Red Cross Society