The School of Critical Engagement is operating with / within the processes, participants, protagonists, systems, and stakeholders, that make / construct place. Place develops through interactions between human and non-human systems, nature and culture, people and space, individuals and collectives, and hegemonial and marginalized cultures and identities. Place is more than the ground on which change occurs, place is an active agent. Place is critical and needs to be critically engaged.

Place is ground zero for where "things happens" or "things take place." Finding new, constructive, and meaningful ways to participate in place is not an option but critical to address questions of social and environmental justice, critical to thriving and not merely surviving.

The fields, disciplines, practices, and professions that are traditionally involved in understanding and changing place have fundamentally failed; it is evident in post-Katrina New Orleans, the long economic decline of Detroit and the favelas in Brazil.

It is not just practices that have failed the educational approaches based on traditional disciplinary concepts of practice are trying to make reality fit their expectations, depriving students of the opportunity to learn and participate in new languages, new practices, and new forms of interactions.

The School of Critical Engagement is:

-Fundamentally place and project based, it emphasizes: context over concept, experiences over expectations, participants over detachment, reflectiveness over preconception, and process over product.

-Fundamentally interdisciplinary: it strives to develop new languages, new practices, new ideas, new pedegogies beyond the traditional boundaries of disciplines, and practices concerned with place, people and culture. It involves bodies of knowledge, approaches, practices, and frameworks from fields that have traditionally been excluded,

-Fundamentally inclusive: it will involve people with backgrounds traditionally excluded from access to academia and higher education,

-Fundamentally discursive: based in discovery, critically, responsiveness, creativity, and reflectiveness.