“When place-based education is implemented in ways that truly conjoin school with community and provide opportunities for democratic participation and leadership, children are given the chance to partake in the collective process of creating the sustainable and just world that must come to replace the world of discrimination and waste that has begun to unravel us now.”

- David Greunewald & Gregory Smith, 2008



What is Place-based Education?

Landsat of DetroitPlace-based education is a vibrant approach to education that takes students out in to the communities, to learn, to do and to grow as human beings. Students are given the opportunity to learn subject matter in deep and lasting ways, understand the places they live in and participate in community renewal that makes a different to themselves and others.  By “engaging the local,” place-based education presents a wide span of purpose and possibility. 

Place-based education:

    • centers curriculum in a specific locale that integrates content and creates focus.
    • invites some different ways of teaching and learning. Larger, more authentic questions are considered and teachers, students and communities form partnerships that fuel and sustain the work.
    • makes learning more relevant and applicable. Learning about PLACE fosters personal connections and understandings about one’s role in society that last a lifetime.
    • when students ask the “big” whys -- the study of PLACE has the potential to transform individuals, institutions and communities. 


My favorite definition of place-based education comes from Gay Craig, a Vermont teacher: 

“It’s local, and it’s connected to students in a way that they can identify with. It’s either a problem in their community or an event that’s happening, or it could be a geological phenomenon. But it’s something that they’re familiar with….so it means something to them. And then we ask questions about it."