Students as Partners Initiative


The Students-as-Partners Initiative is a new 12-month CATLR cohort program that brings together students, curricular educators, and co-curricular educators to design and create substantive projects that improve learning across formal, informal, and professional learning spaces. This program reflects Northeastern’s vision for a global, networked, and personalized educational ecosystem.

The partners approach recognizes that all members of Northeastern’s community have a valuable contribution to make, as educators and as learners, and that we should therefore think of educator-learner relationships as fluid and mutually informing — not as set roles. Students can contribute diverse experiences and valuable perspectives to projects that strengthen the integration of their curricular and co-curricular pathways.

The students-as-partners approach is a proven, extensively researched model for engaging students as co-designers across all dimensions of education, from course design to co-curricular education and service learning (Mercer-Mapstone et al. 2017, Bovill et al. 2016).

About the Program and How to Get Involved

CATLR is piloting a small initiative with the Political Science department in Spring 2018.  In Fall 2018 the program will be expanded to include three additional projects from across the University.  We invite proposals, to be submitted no later than April 30.  We strongly encourage you to discuss your ideas with CATLR prior to submitting your proposal so that we can help you refine and improve your plans prior to the selection process.  Please email to set up a consultation.

Example Partners Project Ideas

  • Faculty, academic advisors, and students partnering to develop resources for academic and professional success
  • A joint partnership between faculty, students, and the library to develop assignments
  • Students co-designing a capstone course
  • Students collaborating with program faculty and academic advisors to develop a website that orients new students to the program
  • Students, faculty, and community leaders to research and design a curricular framework to connect classroom learning and civic engagement

Steps in Developing a Students-as-Partners Project

  1. Identify an opportunity or unmet need that you think students could help you address.  Reach out to people across Northeastern’s educational landscape during your brainstorming process, from advisors and librarians to people involved in residence life.  We are looking for substantive, innovative projects that bring together multiple sectors to tackle a shared educational concern.
  2. We encourage proposals in which students are one partner within a triad, for example a collaboration between a faculty member, student, and co-curricular staff member.
  3. Author a 2-3 page proposal that describes the idea and how you intend to pursue it.  Proposals must include statements regarding
    • Project goals in relation to a specific identified need(s)
    • Intended learning outcomes and how they will be measured
    • A description of the project and deliverables
    • The role of each partner
    • Budget (not to exceed $5,000).  Note that the budget cannot be applied toward faculty or staff salary.
  4. Deadline for proposals: April 30th.

Expectations for Involvement

  • Participate in a 1-day institute during which you will deepen your understanding of the partners approach and further refine your project design. All team members must attend.
  • Meet during monthly lunchtime gatherings during which you will share updates and give/receive feedback with other partners teams.
  • Document your project and implementation, including evidence of the impact of your work. Students should keep separate ongoing documentation and reflections on the project.
  • Participate in a panel discussion, open to the public, at the end of the program to share the outcomes  of your project and what each team member  has  learned.

Additional Web-Based Resources

Works Cited

Bovill, C., & Felten, P. (2016). Cultivating student–staff partnerships through research and practice. International Journal for Academic Development, 21(1).

Mercer-Mapstone, L., Dvorakova, S. L., Groenendijk, L., & Matthews, K. E. (2017). Idealism, conflict, leadership, and labels: Reflections on co-facilitation as partnership practice. Teaching and Learning Together in Higher Education (21)1.