Previous Projects

Action Lab teams create “digital posters” capping their semester-long research projects. All previous Action Lab semesters are available at Read through for the abstracts of previous semester’s projects.

Spring 2018

Eviction Project

In this project, students investigated how Hartford residents came to face eviction, their experiences with the eviction process, and the immediate and long-term ramifications of their evictions on their families. Students designed and implemented a courthouse survey project based on Matthew Desmond’s work in Milwaukee. They surveyed 22 people facing eviction in the city. Of those 22 people, 21 were people of color, 19 were women, and 14 had children living with them, which suggested that people of color and women were over-represented in eviction court based on their share of the Hartford MSA renter population. In their surveys, they found that poor housing conditions were common and sometimes egregious. They also found that stipulation agreements (i.e. eviction plea bargains) were the most common result of the court process, resulting in large fines and a tarnished eviction record for renters.

Student Researchers: Lindsay Pressman (Trinity) and Anjenique White (Capital)

Faculty Fellow: Serena Laws (Trinity)

Community Partners: Salmun Kazerounian and Erin Kemple, CT Fair Housing Center


Mapping NE Hartford Promise Zone Project

Students learned GIS mapping software and spatial analysis techniques alongside their community partner in order to analyze the results of Community Solutions’ Neighborhood Conditions Survey and investigate the connection between housing conditions and health outcomes in NE Hartford. They produced a series of interactive story maps identifying “hot spots” of blight conditions and connecting these with maps of health disparities affecting the North End of the city.

Student Researchers: Garret Forst (Trinity), Cecilia Harris (Capital), Lindon James (Capital)

Faculty Fellow: David Tatem (Trinity)

Community Partners: Kathy Del Beccaro and Nadia Lugo, Community Solutions International, Inc.


Creative Placemaking Project

This project took a close look at the Nook Farm area of Asylum Hill (which includes the Mark Twain House, Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, and Hartbeat Ensemble’s Carriage House Theater), connecting the historical significance of this site for creative and intellectual pursuits with current studies in “creative placemaking”–development projects that leverage the power of the arts, culture, and creativity to serve a community’s interest while avoiding gentrification. After investigating how other places around the country had used creative projects to develop neighborhoods, students surveyed Asylum Hill residents on their views of the neighborhood, their knowledge about neighborhood institutions, and the types of creative placemaking projects that might be interesting to them. They found that residents expressed the most interest in  parades and the least interest in gardening.

Student Researchers: Josephine Bensa (Capital), Giana Moreno (Trinity), Aulona Zeka (Capital), Jane Bisson (Trinity)

Faculty Fellow: Tim Cresswell (Trinity)

Community Partner: Steven Ginsburg, HartBeat Ensemble


PILOT Messaging Project

In this project, students investigated how best to message the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program (PILOT) to suburban Hartford residents. Students first conducted interviews and focus groups to learn how suburban residents related to the city and how they understood (or misunderstood) the PILOT program. Then, they created prototypes of messaging products to promote fully funding PILOT. They tested these products in a survey that they promoted through Facebook. They found that most people were unfamiliar with the PILOT program, but that people who knew about the program were more likely to support funding it.

Student Researchers: Michael Barlowski (Capital), Luke Blough (Capital), Haley Dougherty (Trinity), Massimo Eichner (Trinity)

Faculty Fellow: Abigail Fisher Williamson (Trinity)

Community Partners: Wildaliz Bermudez and Jason Ortiz, Hartford Court of Common Council, and Erin Boggs, Open Communities Alliance


Parent Engagement Project

Students looked into best practices for engaging immigrant and refugee parents on topics related to their children’s education. Working with the Hartford Public Library’s Immigrant Youth Project, students researched current immigration and refugee settlement patterns throughout Hartford. They identified ways that other places had engaged immigrant parents in their kids’ education, and constructed a qualitative interview and survey instrument to investigate how Hartford’s immigrant parents and adolescent children related to one another through education. They found that, overall, parents were interested and committed to working with their kids’ schools, believing that education was a key to a better life. Despite these beliefs and desires, common barriers such as language differences and work hours sometimes got in the way. When asked about methods to increase engagement, parents were very interested in working on collaborative homework assignments with their kids, like engagement strategies that involved teaching a child to cook a recipe from the home country or interviewing a parent about their early live. They were also in favor of more field trips that they could participate in with their kids.

Student Researchers: Alison Odermann (Trinity), Tyesha Rodriguez (Capital), Clinton Triumph (Capital)

Faculty Fellow: Daniela Ragusa (Capital)

Community Partner: Nancy Caddigan, Hartford Public Library