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Florida State University Center for Participant Education Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 2001-013

Scope and Contents

Arranged in 11 series, The Center for Participant Education (CPE) Collection consists of activities files documenting the activities and programs of this student organization, administrative records related to its operations, alternative viewpoint publications used by CPE instructors in designing class content, broadsides announcing its programs, class catalogs, financial records, guest files pertaining to its speakers or performers, legal files related to controversial issues in which it was involved, out-of-state free university and catalogs used by staff in creating its class schedules, and photographs of guest speakers, performers, and CPE staff. Photographs are also found within the activities and guest files series, along with the documents which they originally accompanied. These materials document the history and operations of the organization, and the programs it has sponsored.


  • Created: 1970-2000
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1984-1986

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to all researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

For copyright information, please contact the Center for Participant Education. All requests for permission to quote, publish, broadcast or otherwise reproduce from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Associate Dean for Special Collections & Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Florida State University Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Biographical or Historical Information

The Center for Participant Education (CPE) is a Florida State University (FSU) student government agency established in 1970 to provide an alternative to the traditional curriculum taught at FSU. Its founding philosophy was, and still is, that students should have a participatory role in their education. CPE was created as a result of the student activism of the time, and is now one of the largest "free universities" in the nation. It has provided progressive and alternative views on education, the arts, politics, and social concerns by offering a wide range of classes, workshops, films, and guest speakers, all free of charge and open to the public.

CPE's non-traditional approach to education is reflected in its catalog. Published every semester, the CPE catalog features a wide variety of free classes, which range from beer-making to dance, juggling, meditation and self-defense. CPE volunteer teachers have complete freedom over what they teach.
Subsidized by student appropriations, CPE has also brought a wide selection of speakers to the Florida State University campus every year since it began 1970. It has sponsored programs on issues such as abortion, AIDS, apartheid, Central America, Gay and Lesbian students, human rights, the Middle East, Native Americans, Nicaragua, South Africa, and women's issues. Past speakers have included Philip Agee, Maya Angelou, Julian Bond, Cesar Chavez, Angela Davis, Allen Ginsberg, Abbie Hoffman, Jesse Jackson, Kate Millett, Ralph Nader, Madalyn Murray O'Hare, Jerry Rubin, and Gloria Steinem.
In addressing important social issues that affect people locally, nationally, and internationally, CPE's history has also been marked by controversy, and has been investigated by the Florida Legislature, suspended by the Florida Board of Regents, and challenged by the Florida State University administration.


35.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The Center for Participant Education Collection contains the activities files, administrative records, alternative viewpoint publications, broadsides, class catalogs, financial records, guest files, legal files, out-of-state free university catalogs, and photographs of one of the oldest student agencies at Florida State University. These materials document the history and operations of the organization, and the programs it has sponsored for the years 1970-2000.

Method of Acquisition

The Center for Participant Education Collection was given to the Special Collections Department, Florida State University Libraries, by J. Karma Bennett of the Center for Participant Education, in 2001.

Processing Information

This collection was processed from September 2003-March 2004 by Burt Altman. Materials containing confidential information (such as Social Security Numbers) and having little research value have been removed.

Florida State University Center for Participant Education Collection
Burt Altman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the FSU Special Collections & Archives Repository

116 Honors Way
PO Box 3062047
Tallahassee FL 32306-2047 US