Urban Justice and Sustainability

The Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) in Urban Justice and Sustainability is a post-master’s program for working professionals. The CAGS program will enhance your skillset helping you to be more effective in advancing urban justice and sustainability through public policy and planning practice, research, and activism.

Three people work at an urban farm with an iPad.
  • Program Description
  • Application Requirements
  • Faculty
  • Curriculum

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Office of Graduate Admissions
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Medford, MA 02155
(617) 627-3395


The Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study (CAGS) program is a hybrid online plus on-campus graduate certificate offered over the course of one year through the Tufts Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning (UEP). With the majority of your studies occurring online, the structure enables you to study at a top ranked university while continuing to work full-time. Coursework includes two five-day on-campus summer intensive courses and four online courses taken during the academic year. The certificate is rooted intellectually in three inter-related policy/planning themes: social justice, sustainability, and community engagement.

Although largely a web-based program, the courses are structured to provide opportunities for peer-to-peer and student-to-faculty interaction. A large component of the program is an independent project unique to student interests with direct mentorship and guidance from a UEP advisor. In addition, the Urban Justice and Sustainability certificate promotes an atmosphere for students to reflect on their own professional and civic practices. In the end, the program helps empower you to more actively advance social justice and sustainability in complex public policy and planning settings in your own community.

Related Programs

For U.S.-based students with American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) membership, the CAGS will be suitable for credit towards annual Certification Maintenance (CM) requirements. Tufts is an approved AICP CM provider. 

CAGS Course Structure

Every student will enroll in:

● Introductory five-day, on-campus summer intensive course (August)

● Two online courses during fall semester (September-December)

● Two online courses during spring semester (January-June)

● Concluding five-day, on-campus summer intensive course (August)

Please see Curriculum for more details.


Certificate students pay a course rate of $2,500 per course credit (2017-2018) for a total program cost of $12,500.

For more information visit the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning

Application Requirements

In addition to the general application requirements for certificate programs, the CAGS requires the following supplemental information:

An advanced degree (e.g. master’s or law degree): Transcripts from all institutions attended are required. Unofficial transcripts are permissible, but official transcripts will be requested by the Graduate School upon acceptance of the program.

GRE General Test scores are NOT required

Personal Essay giving reasons for deciding to do post-graduate work. Please limit your answer to under 2,500 words. We are particularly concerned that you cover these points:

○ What previous experiences have brought you to consider applying for the CAGS in Urban Justice and Sustainability?

○ What are your chief objectives in applying now?

○ How do you think this program will help you achieve those objectives and advance your career?

One letter of recommendation from either a professional or academic supervisor that can speak to your interests and commitments in advancing your education.

Resume or curriculum vitae of less than five (5) pages.

● For applicants who are not native English speakers or have not attended a degree granting institution with English as the language of instruction, the TOEFL examination is also required.


The application deadline for the 2017-2018 cohort (beginning in August 2017) is March 15, 2017.

For more information, email certificates@tufts.edu.


Justin Hollander
Associate Professor, Director of CAGS Program
Ph.D. , Rutgers University
Land use planning, urban design, shrinking cities, big data analytics
Julian Agyeman
Ph.D. , University of London
Sustainability policy and planning, environmental and food justice, intercultural cities
Christine Cousineau
MArch AS, MCP , Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban planning and design, green urban design, retrofitting suburbs, community engagement
Michelle Holliday-Stocking
Ph.D., Sociology , Portland State University
Health and social inequalities, suicide prevention, community-university partnerships, anti-bullying policy, and education
James Jennings
Professor Emeritus
Ph.D. , Columbia University
Urban and neighborhood politics, social welfare, community development
Penn Loh
Lecturer and Director of the M.P.P. Program and Community Practice
M.S. , University of California, Berkeley
Environmental justice, solidarity and new economy, community organizing

The Certificate for Advanced Graduate Studied is obtained upon successful completion of the following:

Two Summer Intensive Courses

UEP 0227-01: Reflections on Urban Justice & Sustainability
Intensive, five-day summer course at the beginning of program

The goal of this course is to introduce students to key ideas, frameworks, and debates to help understand and explain the adoption, implementation, and evaluation of urban justice and sustainability policy and planning. This class focuses on systemic factors that mold public policies in the United States.  In addition, the course provides a foundation for students to reflect on and further explore specific public policies related to their professional experiences and interests. Readings provide an understanding of the historical, institutional, political, and ideological context of urban justice and sustainability policy and planning. Students are introduced to various sources of data and to scholarly work that transforms data into research findings about a range of public policies. The culminating activity of the seminar is an accepted proposal for a year-long independent research project the students will pursue in close collaboration with a supervising UEP faculty member.

UEP 0228-01: Integrative Seminar in Urban Justice & Sustainability
Intensive, five-day summer course at the conclusion of the program

The course continues building the foundation for understanding how public policy and planning for urban justice and sustainability is developed, implemented, and discussed/debated in various contexts. The readings and course discussions are aimed at strengthening conceptual skills, basic data and spatial analysis, and integrating all these in investigating current policy issues.  In this class, students will have opportunities both in class and through assignments to continue to integrate their learning and policy interests identified in throughout the year-long certificate program. This in-person seminar provides opportunities for students to report back to their instructors and fellow students on their collective learning over the year, their reflections on their professional practice, and the results of their year-long research project.  The culminating activity of the seminar is a final project based on their year-long independent research.

Four Online Courses (two per semester)

UEP 0226-01: Social Justice and Sustainability
Fall semester course

This course engages students in a wide ranging exploration of the theories, practices, and opportunities for enhancing social justice and sustainability in the domains of public policy and urban planning. The course will be a forum for students to draw on their work experiences and educational experiences to more fully understand, articulate, and advocate for social justice and sustainability in policy and planning.

UEP 0225-01: Community Engagement: Advanced Techniques, Examples and Outcomes
Spring semester course

Many planning projects and policies fail because of a lack of community engagement. This course explores ways to create active, positive participation in different urban settings. We examine the goals and practice of community engagement, from theory and history to methods and techniques. Using three case studies of participation processes, in Lowell’s Hamilton Canal District, Boston’s Chinatown, and Somerville neighborhoods, we view and discuss filmed sessions of public meetings and charrettes. Facilitators and participants of community engagement events are interviewed for their assessment of how effective the process was.

UEP 0291-01 Directed Studies
Taken both fall and spring semester

Directed Studies will be used to complete a special project, which will be an applied policy or planning report, video, website, or other creative or scholarly work.  The special project provides each student with an opportunity to synthesize the knowledge they have gained in a capstone experience.  The special project will be executed in close coordination with a supervising faculty member.