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Want to learn more about CEP?

The Plumb Manual is our guiding policy document that outlines what sets CEP apart. To name a few of our unique features: 1) We are highly collaborative and demand a lot from our students, both through independent work and group endeavors. 2) Large policy decisions are made by consensus, meaning staff and students work together to find common solutions that all endorse. 3) Each student is required to participate on a student committee that helps with the operations of the major.

Offered Autumn and Winter quarters, this course introduces you to the subjects and methods central to CEP. Find out what it’s like to learn in a collaborative learning community, facilitate a group or class, and become an effective leader in your community. Open to all, but freshmen and sophomores are especially encouraged to enroll.

Currently offered in Spring quarter, this course is taught by a CEP Core Instructor and is a great way to learn about the city and urbanization. Although CEP is much more than a program on urban issues, the city is always present in our work, whether we are doing community projects, exploring our environmental contexts, discussing ethics and identity, or learning to become civic leaders. Plus, many students in CEP choose to minor in Urban Planning, so the city and its many themes are often present in our work and conversations.

Once or twice a quarter, CEP will host an Open House for those interested in getting to know the program.

This is an excellent way to observe CEP’s governance style – one that involves students in the decision-making process through student facilitation, dialogue, and a consensus process. It’s also a great way to meet current CEP students and learn more about the program. Email to confirm the date and location.

Build a strong application.

We have a small core that allows you to design your own educational path. The best way you can academically prepare yourself for this program is to take courses and find activities that will help you discover what you want to focus your studies on in CEP. You don’t have to have all the answers now, but having a clear sense of what you are interested in – and why – will help you be intentional with your education and successful in the major.

Writing and speaking are integral to our program, so it’s wise to take courses that will help you with these skills. The pace is often fast in CEP so it’s also good to focus on your study skills and time management practices. And in general, learn to question and discover as much as you can about the things you are passionate about. CEP is all about bringing different ideas, interests, and practices together, so bring whatever makes you excited about learning and doing.

In CEP, we believe that learning happens not only in the classroom but also out in the “real world” through intentional experiences. Academics are great; but purposeful academics are even better! Find your purpose by volunteering or interning with a local organization; getting involved with a student organization; or through discovering a way that you can “make a difference” in your community or the world.

‘Like’ our Facebook page so you can stay up to date with open houses, information sessions, and student activities. You can also set up a one-on-one advising appointment with CEP’s adviser at, or by using the form in the right-hand side bar of this webpage.

Frequently Asked Questions

CEP is active, meaningful, and full of intention. CEP’s guiding document, the Plumb Manual, states “CEP is an experiment in direct democracy… Each member’s opinions, knowledge, and perspectives are crucial to the education of the group.” In CEP, individual students must be motivated to craft their own academic plan. The individual not only has a responsibility to themselves, but also to their peers that make up their learning community. Core courses are small and follow a pedagogy that values peer-learning, hands-on experiences, and active dialogue. With all of this, a CEP education is academically challenging while building leadership, community, and group management skills relevant to future employment opportunities.

CEP’s in-house credits focus on two things: (1) Our core course series explores theories and practices around our headlining tenants: Community, the Environment, and the practice of Planning. As students develop their own learning community, they also explore and grapple with the meaning, structure, and goals of community. Students explore issues that impact our natural and built environments, and learn ways to engage citizens around those issues and how to work with different entities (i.e. governments, nonprofits, informal community organizations, etc.) (2) Our leadership retreats and quarterly governance course offer a forum to develop, practice, and reflect on leadership and project management skills. Students study group dynamics and actively work to improve efficiency in process and quality of products.

CEP is housed in the Department of Urban Design and Planning with its roots deeply set in the practices of planning, however, it is not a traditional urban planning degree. While you can tailor your own academic concentration to be focused on urban planning, CEP’s core courses focus on a more holistic approach to planning. Rather than technical planning skills such as in depth site analysis, design, land use coding, we focus more on the people involved, the process of planning, and the complexity of components that have to be considered in large- and small-scale decisions.

CEP students take part in the operations and policy decision-making of the major, and governance is where this happens most. Held on Friday mornings, governance is split into three parts: (1) Committees meet for one hour to work on their various operational tasks such as alumni engagement, social media and community, strategic direction, event planning, and outreach; (2) Forum is a major-wide one hour long meeting where we discuss issues that effect the major as a whole such as mission statement revision or conflict resolution. It is also a space for workshops and guest speakers; (3) Steering is an optional third hour that acts as an Executive Committee where we ensure that all disparate components of the major are functioning efficiently towards the same goals.

It is possible to double major or minor with CEP, and many of our students choose to do so. There are a few policies to keep in mind as you plan out this potential path — only 15 credits can overlap between majors, and credits for a minor must be 60% different than those for a major (i.e. for the 30-credit minor, 12 credits can overlap, and for a 25-credit minor, 10 credits can overlap). Also, keep in mind that one of the strengths of CEP is the flexibility to take courses in departments all over campus, and if you start late, a double major or minor can limit the flexibility in your academic plan.

CEP students enter the program with diverse interests, and thus leave the program with diverse areas of expertise. However, all students do have one thing in common — they seek to influence their community and built environment in a positive way. One of three of our alumni work as urban planners in the public and private sectors, and others work in related fields such as public service, landscape design, environmental and sustainable consulting, and education. CEP alumni also continue their education in Master’s programs such as planning, public administration, law, social work, education, and architecture.

The ideal CEP candidate has a clear educational direction and is working towards that direction both in and outside of the classroom. We look for candidates that have volunteer and leadership experience in organizations that they are passionate about. We think it is important that students have spent time exploring their academic pursuits in the classroom and what their course of study will be in CEP, so we also look at the different types of classes candidates have taken. Strong CEP candidates can communicate their passions and goals, both written and verbally. Finally, while GPA is not everything, grades are an important indicator on how you perform in an academic setting.