Place-Based Education is a fundamentally different approach to learning than what is offered in most schools. It is an approach that seeks to draw out the vital connections between students and their community. It is a way to help students come to know and care for the place in which they live. It is a way to take fuller advantage of the incredibly rich resources of the Boulder area.

The essential characteristics of place-based education include:

  • It emerges from the particular attributes of a place. The content is specific to the geography, ecology, sociology, politics, and other dynamics of that place.
  • It is inherently multidisciplinary and often promotes team teaching among educators and community resource people.
  • It is inherently experiential. In many programs this includes a participatory action or service learning component.
  • It is reflective of an educational philosophy that is broader than “learn to earn.” Curricula and programs are designed for broader, life-long learning objectives.
  • It connects place with self and community. Because of the lens through which place-based curricula are envisioned, these connections are pervasive. These curricula include multigenerational and multicultural dimensions as they interface with community resources.

Here is what others are saying about place-based education:

“Place-based education provides students with opportunities to connect with themselves, their community, and their local environment through hands-on, real-world learning experiences. It is rooted in the integrated core curricular activities of science, social studies, communication arts and fine arts, and is expanded upon and applied by extending the classroom into the schoolyard and the neighborhood. This approach enables students to see that their learning is relevant to their world, to take pride in the place in which they live, to connect with the rest of the world in a natural way, and to develop into concerned and contributing citizens.” —Jack Chin

“The primary value of place-based education lies in the way that it serves to strengthen children’s connections to others and to the regions in which they live. It enhances achievement, but, more important, it helps overcome the alienation and isolation of individuals that have become hallmarks of modernity.” —Gregory Smith

If you want to read more about place-based education, download the following document (PDF):

All of a Place:
Connecting Schools, Youth and Community
Published June 2001 by the Funders’ Forum on Environment and Education