Certification in Creative Placemaking

This is one of the most comprehensive and challenging programs in the world for creative placemaking. Successful students hone their knowledge in key creative placemaking topics: community development, economic development, practical analysis, capacity building, site planning, and destination marketing. Students also build their collaborative leadership skills, and work on real creative placemaking strategies.

The fully online program consists of three elements:

  • Six 'deep learning' courses that help you explore the craft of creative placemaking.   
  • Eight entrepreneurial leadership sessions
  • A capstone studio through which you can prepare a creative placemaking plan, proposal or analysis for a community of your choice.

There are no required meetings, and no travel is needed.  All live sessions are recorded. Classes are small (no more than 30 people per class) and are designed so that you can share with and learn from your classmates. Imagine being at a roundtable with smart people from the arts, public affairs, and urban design and planning, with a seasoned expert facilitating.  That's the Certificate program.

Courses are taught by expert practitioners and thinkers in creative placemaking, such as Tom Borrup, David Pankratz and Wendy Benscoter.

Many of the students are professionals and organizational leaders, and have come from throughout the United States and five other countries.   

This unique program was offered in partnership with The Ohio State University's Austin J. Knowlton from 2013 to 2015. We have discontinued our partnership with the school, and are planning to relaunch the program with a new partner by Fall 2017.  Letters of Interest from colleges or universities that would like to become a partner in the Certificate are due October 10, 2016. See the Request for Letters of Interest. 

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Testimonials from program graduates

"I highly recommend the Certification Program. This certification program gives you the tools to successfully engage your community and to help it create its own unique vision for growth and change. This is achieved through the professors and your student colleagues, who are from diverse backgrounds, and who provide a wide array of knowledge and expertise, both rural and urban.  You will also learn how to become a better leader - how to guide your community and/or elected officials toward a collective and attainable economic future that includes all stakeholders.

Through this program, I have been able to successfully leverage the knowledge I have gained to influence how key decisions are made about economic development throughout the state of Arizona, and in particular, the Verde Valley in northern Arizona. I have been invited to speak about our community's success and this topic around the state through AZ Town Hall and through the Arizona Association for Economic Development.  As a result, I have also been asked to form the Verde Valley Arts Council as a subsidiary of the Cottonwood Economic Development Council." 

Juliana Brutsche, Director of Development, AZ Culture
Cottonwood, Arizona
2015 Program   


 "The Certification program gave me a framework for understanding the creative placemaking movement as it is developing in Manila, Philippines. Throughout the course, I realized that generally, we do not have many opportunities to come together as students, practitioners, policy makers, and communities to talk about what kind of city we are and what kind of city we might want to be in the future. One of our modules focused on festivals as a placemaking approach for bringing together diverse groups of people to create meaningful experiences in cities. The emphasis on process and community engagement as an integral part of creative placemaking inspired me to start the first Urban Design Week + Festival in Manila.

The goal was to bring the conversation on city-building to a wider audience, essentially out of the close door conference. The design week was held in satellite events around Metro Manila. For instance we held one session on Creative Placemaking in which three organizations shared their work for the first time together under this framework at a co-working space in one part of the city, while another evening a neighborhood resident gave a walking tour of an up and coming food district and organized a live mural painting at one of the newest food truck sites. The effort culminated in a weekend long festival in a historic neighborhood in Manila, called Intramuros, also my case study site for the class.

Based on the readings and assignment from the module, I learned how to best organize a festival and especially how to make sure it served as more than a fun event, but an inclusive, thoughtful experience. The festival was overwhelmingly successful and I am particularly pleased that we were able to interest new people to urban design issues, introduce people across sectors, and learn from each other while at the same time celebrating the city. We invited community leaders from an informal settlement to share their experiences on participatory housing and private developers to talk about green building and resiliency, while later in the evening visitors viewed photography shows, live music from a local neighborhood band, and enjoyed food from local vendors. The Festival helped open a platform for discussion while showcasing the creative potential of a forgotten part of the city; the festival was a test of creative placemaking at various levels. The Certification course taught me most importantly to focus on people as the starting point of creative placemaking so it's no accident that the tagline for the MAYNILA Urban Design Week + Festival was People Make Cities."

Links to some press about the festival: Video, Article 1, Article 2, Article 3, Article 4

Julia Nebrija, Project Manager, Sustainable Project Managment International, 
Manila, The Philippines
2015 Program  


"I actually started a company that uses all the principles from the Certification program. We are gaining some traction and people are starting to notice our work."

Amanda Golden, co-founder, Designing Local, www.designinglocal.com
Columbus, Ohio
2014 Program


"The placemaking program is the most intellectually stimulating experience I have ever had, nothing even rivals it except perhaps art school. And as you can see, the other participants are truly remarkable."

Debra Rose, PhD, Library and Cultural Affairs Administrator
City of Pinellas Park, FL
2015 Program 


"I am loving the learning in this course! It is enriching in everything I do and contemplate. I wish I could spend all of my work days immersed in the curriculum."

Erin Maile O’Keefe, Circus Yoga
Brattleboro, Vermont
2015 Program


"I have found it immensely useful in my work. There is no doubt that my nonprofit would not be engaged in some of our current projects without my knowledge of creative placemaking."

Jacqueline Calladine, President, VALA Eastside
Redmond, Washington
2015 Program 

Learn more about the Certification in Creative Placemaking.