Graduate Certificate in Public Interest Design

CPID students design and build an exhibit on responding to houselessness with design at the Portland Art Museum

The Graduate Certificate in Public Interest Design has been created as a means to prepare future leaders in architecture, urban planning, sustainability, community development and other fields to aid currently underserved populations through sustainable, human-centered design methods. The Certificate provides an educational foundation for entry into the emerging field of Public Interest Design, through academic studies and hands-on experience in the field, working directly with communities in need to address issues such as inadequate shelter, food and water scarcity, disaster preparedness and recovery, and economic well-being.

The Certificate in Public Interest Design is offered to both graduate students and professionals in Portland and beyond. The certificate consists of 18 credit hours of course options from several disciplines, with a focus on the “triple bottom line” of sustainability (social, environmental and economic), ranging from Social Entrepreneurship to Environmental Sustainability to Creating Collaborative Communities. The coursework is anchored by a seminar in public interest design and culminates in fieldwork or practicum on a real-world public interest design project. 

Examples of CPID projects in which a student might engage in fieldwork include current design-build projects in Haiti, Inner Mongolia and Buenos Aires, planning and development work with disinvested neighborhoods in California’s Central Valley and along the U.S. Mexican border, resiliency planning and design for U.S. Plains Indian tribes, and housing projects in the United States and abroad.