New Urban Policy and Planning Certificate Program Begins in August

The CAGS in Urban Justice and Sustainability will offer professionals a chance to hone their skills and reflect on their practice

For planning and public policy professionals who want to keep current in their field but don’t want to pursue a Ph.D., Tufts has a new option: the Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) in Urban Justice and Sustainability.

The Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning (UEP) is recruiting six or seven students for the first class of the one-year program, which begins this August. Applications are due Aug. 1. More details are available on the program page.

Traditionally, the CAGS has been offered to professionals with master’s degrees in fields such as education, dentistry and occupational therapy, but few similar options have been available for planning and public policy professionals, said Associate Professor Justin Hollander, A96, who designed the program.

“In our field, students graduate and then go out and work, but at the same time many of them want to sharpen their skills, learn the latest ideas out there and reflect on their practice,” Hollander said. “So we came up with this concept for people who have a master’s and want to be in a professionally oriented learning environment.”

A 15-credit program, the CAGS will fulfill the educational requirement for credentialing by the American Institute of Certified Planners in a more structured way than simply attending workshops and conferences each year, Hollander said.

It will begin and end with a week on the Tufts campus in August, with two courses completed online during the fall 2017 and spring 2018 semesters. One of those courses, focusing on community engagement, has been piloted as an online summer class for the past four years. The other will center on social justice and sustainability, the foundational principles at UEP, said Hollander.

“Because we’re dealing with accomplished professionals, we’re going to up the ante and have the material draw more on their experiences,” he said. “It will focus on helping students make sense of what they’ve done and help make their own practice more effective.”

Students will have the opportunity work to closely with accomplished researchers on projects tailored to their experience and interests, said Hollander, who will teach in the program along with Professor Julian Agyeman, lecturer Christine Cousineau and Penn Loh, a lecturer and director of the Master of Public Policy Program. Additional faculty will be recruited.

Because most of the work will be done remotely, the course offers the flexibility for professionals to keep working, Hollander said, while the two weeks on campus provide the chance to network in person and dedicate time and space to learning and reflection.

“For most people working in planning and public policy, their work is busy and overwhelming. They’re spending most of their time putting out fires,” Hollander said. “What we’re offering here is a chance to force yourself to stop and reflect, to create the space to put things in perspective. For someone who’s looking to be effective and make change, I think that’s important.”

Monica Jimenez can be reached at

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