UCLA Center for Action Research

Transforming Education and Research into Service to the World

Center for Action Research Students


The world faces many complex problems. A great public university must be part of the solution. The Center’s mission is to organize, prepare, and support student teams as they attack real-world problems in partnership with faculty and major nonprofit organizations, locally, nationally, and internationally. Largely based on students’ capstone experiences, the Center helps transform education and research into service to the world.


Form multi-disciplinary student teams custom fit to the project needs of NGOs. Use course credit and teaching credit as the internal coins of the realm, and include all other variable costs in the budget of the NGO. Fund raise jointly if projects students demand do not have sufficient support. Use information technology to streamline operations, insure projects can be carried across time and teams, and facilitate access to and utility of the growing knowledge base. Bring to scale so as to minimize infrastructure costs relative to value delivered.

We build a team that complements the NGO staff with the skills and personnel needed to advance its project goals. We build the infrastructure that allows the team to stretch across time with shifting personnel. Our students’ diversity of talents and expertise create a rich palate for customization. The partnership offers a complete product/service solution that the NGO can bring to its client populations. The collective power of the UCLA team provides compelling reasons for the NGOs to want to partner in this manner. NGOs become stable bridges for bringing university expertise directly to bear on today’s problems. The benefits to the student, faculty, NGOs, and the ultimate clients are great. Driven to scale, the collective benefits can be enormous.


Mark Gold
Associate Vice Chancellor of Environment and Sustainability
Sustainable LA Grand Challenge

Charles Corbett Professor, Anderson School of Management


Lee Cooper Professor Emeritus, Anderson School of Management

Founding Partner

Conservation International

Alliance for Action Research

Founding Members

Luskin Center for Innovation

Center for Tropical Research

Support Our Efforts

Donors before March 15, 2014, will be Founding Members of the Center.

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Current Projects

Sustainable Fisheries in Ecuador

A team just returned from studying artisanal fisheries in Coastal Ecuador. An account of the fieldwork is available at: uclaandersonamrecuador.tumblr.com

Conservation International is the partner investigating the value network for sustainable fisheries in the Galera-San Francisco Marine Reserve. The Anderson team is augmented on campus by Samantha Cheng, a doctoral student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.  Samantha is also helping another Anderson team on a CI project studying sustainable lobster farming in the Galapagos. Check back for a link to that blog.

Interviewing four traders in Esmeraldas to gather additional pricing data.
With well over 100 hours of primary research under our belt, we're beginning to understand what needs to be done to take Artelangosta's fishing cooperative (seen in photo above) to the next level. The multi-party cooperation between Artelangosta, NAZCA, Conservational International, UCLA Anderson, and the Belgian NGO, among others, is starting to show great progress.
Enrique applying survey methodology with local fishermen in Galera.
Alex going back to her educational roots.

On-Going Projects

Suriname Green

This started our partnership with Conservation International. Our first effort involved analyzing the infrastructure for eco-tourism in this country, which is still 90% primary rainforest. On a series of in-country visits team members did primary research with key stakeholders, and designed an exit survey administered by students at a local university, with CI's in-country staff making the local arrangements.

Tourism site on the Paramaribo River at a former slave camp.
The riverfront at the commercial hub.
The CI staff devoted to the project plus the UCLA advisor and one student team member. The project was so well received that the Parliament of Suriname invited CI and UCLA undertake a series of projects in other major areas of their economy.