Teaching participatory practice as the best way to advocate for just, equitable communities.
The Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment (GCPE) builds on 50 years of interdisciplinary study and community action at Pratt.
We believe that the challenges facing today’s built and social environments come from complex and often entrenched dynamics and cannot be adequately approached from a single perspective or successfully addressed through a single discipline. GCPE draws from a diverse pool of resources, institutions, and organizations, both on campus and off, to enrich our understanding of these challenges and to strengthen our ability to have an impact. The following list compiles some prominent examples of our partnerships, accomplishments, and collaborations.
GCPE Studio Research
Studio courses are designed to give students professional-quality hands-on experience in interdisciplinary planning. Studios entail professional-level teamwork on real projects on behalf of civic and community clients from the city’s diverse neighborhoods. GCPE welcomes interdisciplinary collaboration with community organizations, non-profits, and other civic minded groups.
Thesis and Capstone Project Research
GCPE students are some of the most inquisitive and socially engaged students in planning and environmental pedagogy. With one foot placed in applied practice and the other in community activism, thesis and capstone projects often include work with a community partner. This researcher-client relationship, though not required, has led to some of the most exciting works and lasting impacts within the students’ area of focus. For more information about thesis and capstone projects visit the individual program pages or contact the program department administrators.
A core principle of the GCPE pedagogy is to include the perspective of community members directly. Public speaking events are held frequently at Pratt Manhattan and Pratt Brooklyn campuses. Guest lectures inside of GCPE classrooms are common as well, with an emphasis on gaining the perspective of the community, without filter.
MultipliCity is a student-run annual publication. Each edition features GCPE articles on studio work, interdisciplinary collaborations, thesis excerpts, international work, and other topics. MultipliCity is the third generation of student-led publications. Earlier newsletters, STREET and The Pratt Planning Papers, were later transformed into the independent City Limits Magazine.
PlaceDialogues is an edited journal of essay by students, faculty and alumni of Pratt that address the question of Place. PlaceDialogues provides a portal for information on the subject of placemaking, and a vehicle for discussing ongoing work performed by Urban Placemaking and Management MS students, faculty and professionals.
Intractable Democracy: Fifty Years of Community-Based Planning celebrates Pratt’s role in the evolution of community-based planning. It features practitioners, activists, students, academics, and enthusiasts—each approaching the field from a different angle, but all striving toward the same end: realizing a more just and inclusive city. Below are links to Pratt Planning Papers and Street magazine, publications from the Pratt planning department during the 1960’s–1980’s, and the inspiration for Intractable Democracy.
Pratt Center for Community Development: Pratt Center was founded in 1963 when graduate planning students and faculty at Pratt Institute partnered with community organizations to address urban poverty by empowering local residents to participate in the official planning processes that affected their communities. As a department within Pratt Institute, Pratt Center for Community Development works closely with faculty and students from multiple disciplines, leveraging the Institute’s architecture, planning, and design resources, in support of community-driven plans for a more sustainable and equitable New York City. Students have the opportunity to work closely with Pratt Center, through Fellowship programs, internships, studio projects, and student worker programs.
Pratt Center also manages the Taconic Fellowship, a program that provides financial awards for projects that align with Pratt Center’s urban planning and policy work in support of sustainable and equitable community development. Made possible by a grant from the Taconic Foundation, GCPE students and faculty often support the implementation of awarded projects. Learn more about the Taconic Fellowship.
Spatial Analysis and Visualization Initiative: The Spatial Analysis and Visualization Initiative (SAVI) is a mapping research and service center that provides education, technical support, and resources to Pratt students and faculty across disciplines and to external clients with a focus on non-profit and community-based organizations. SAVI also performs academic research with internal and external partners and offers a GIS and Design certificate program through the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. GCPE faculty and students continually work in partnership with SAVI, supporting a number of student fellowships and research opportunities.
GCPE maintains a regular relationship with civic and non-profit organizations throughout the city. These include the Pratt Center, the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, Project for Public Spaces, NYC Gov., the Center for Urban Pedagogy, and the Municipal Art Society.
Planners, sustainability experts, preservationists, and placemaking professionals alike must be prepared to address issues rooted in internationalization and globalization. In response to the conditions that working in global contexts challenges us with, GCPE conducts a number of courses which run partly or entirely abroad. Through recent global partnerships, Pratt students have studied affordable housing in Brazil, regional sustainability in India, public space in Cuba, urban design in Japan and much, much more.