Learning Partners

All of the collaborative work at the Engagement Lab is made possible by the direct involvement of our Learning Partners. Learning Partners are individuals who live, work, play, and serve in the communities with which we partner. They join Emerson students and faculty in Social Impact Studios as co-creators, bringing their passion, knowledge, ideas, and lived experiences of the issues and their impacts locally, to inform and guide projects in the classroom.

Six panelists seated at a table with a blue tablecloth; one is holding a microphone

What are Learning Partners?

Every Social Impact Studio involves the direct participation of Learning Partners. They are identified and recruited by our partner organizations for their interest, passion, and lived experience with the relevant issues and their impacts locally. Often they are members, volunteers, or direct constituents of our partner organizations, already actively engaged in local change efforts related to gun violence prevention, intervention, and healing, or environmental and climate justice. 

Learning Partners are fully engaged members of the classroom, where they serve as teachers, learners, and co-creators alongside Emerson students and faculty. As such, they attend class weekly for the duration of the semester (Sept-Dec or Jan-May), participate actively, and even complete assignments. Their role is critical because they bring real life experience and contextual knowledge of the issue(s) and what is needed to bring about change, often playing a leadership role in the classroom. They are an important bridge between the work of our partner organizations and the projects that are created in the classroom. Because of their contribution, Social Impact Studios produce art, media, and communications tools that can make a real difference.

Four individuals performing on a stage, holding newspapers

Partner Organizations


There are many benefits of joining the Engagement Lab as a Learning Partner. For some, this is an opportunity to experience a college class and campus for the first time. For others, it’s an opportunity to learn new skills and experience different disciplines. For everyone, it’s a chance to collaborate with many different kinds of people and to contribute to social change through storytelling and design.

Learning Partners can participate in Social Impact Studios in either initiative — Transforming Narratives of Gun Violence or Transforming Narratives for Environmental Justice. Though specific activities vary by semester and class, some experiences that Learning Partners may gain include film production and editing, game design, theatre production, writing, visual arts, augmented and virtual reality, interviewing, design, and more.

In addition to new skills and experiences, Learning Partners can earn free college credit or a stipend for their participation. They also receive an Emerson College ID, access to many campus resources, and many perks and discounts that come with having a college ID in Boston! All Learning Partners also receive a certificate upon completion of the Studio. 

If you are interested in becoming a Learning Partner for the Transforming Narratives of Gun Violence or Transforming Narratives for Environmental Justice initiatives, please contact Rachele Gardner, rachele_gardner@emerson.edu or one of the partner organizations listed above.

*Learning Partners must be over the age of 16 to participate and over the age of 18 with a high school diploma or equivalent to earn college credit.

Five individuals brainstorming around a table with post-its