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Teaching participatory practice as the best way to advocate for just, equitable communities

Mission Statement

The mission of the Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment is to provide a professionally- oriented education to a student body with diverse cultural, educational, and professional backgrounds. Using a multidisciplinary approach, GCPE teaches participatory practice as the best way to support and advocate for just, equitable communities. Students graduate equipped with the knowledge of theory, technical capacity, collaborative skills, and radical critical thinking abilities necessary to plan for ethical, healthy, resilient and inclusive communities.

GCPE Values

Our impact is felt at many scales—local, citywide, statewide, nationally, and even globally. But the GCPE values-based approach to planning, placemaking, preservation and sustainable environmental systems has impact on the paradigms we all use no matter what the scale. The GCPE curriculum prepares students to create plans, projects and policies that reinterpret the value of land in dialogue with communities—in order to establish an alternative to the notion of “highest-and-best use” determined solely on the basis of how much money can be made from it. The aim is not to demonize profit, but to learn how to balance the pursuit of profit through the dollar value of the land with community-defined approaches to value. Success is when place begins to more closely resemble a community’s own definition of what it should look like and how it should function.

Plans created here are physical and highly responsive to social needs, with an emphasis on implementation and movement into the future—meaning that change feels tangible; local civic action is affirmed and re-energized. Pratt brings innovation to the framework of urban institutions working in partnership with community.  

We believe that citizens, both individually and collectively, have the power to instigate change.

Our Objectives

  • Promote independent and collaborative work on behalf of social and environmental justice, local communities, and innovations in the public realm.
  • Employ leading practitioners to provide intellectual rigor and practical knowledge of the field.
  • Utilize studio and team learning to educate students to the importance of collaboration in a multidisciplinary field.
  • Educate through service learning that builds on respectful and mutual beneficial partnerships with community organizations.
  • Provide full opportunity for focused, specialized or interdisciplinary study and degrees.
  • Create leaders and activists at all levels of practice—from DIY action to metropolitan policy.