Collage showing the Burlington waterfront, students outdoors in the woods, the Vermont Statehouse, and maple sugaring at Shelburne Farms.

“It’s really about involving students with the community, taking students outside of the classroom. It means making curriculum authentic and relevant.” Camilla Thomassen-Tai '20

Discover Place-Based Education at UVM!

Prepare to access local communities and environments as a context for action-oriented teaching and learning through our cross-college Place-Based Education (PBE) Undergraduate Certificate Program. Learn to design and implement curricula and interpretive materials based on the socio-political, cultural, ecological, historical, geographical, and pedagogical dimensions of specific places.

In collaboration with Shelburne Farms and other community partners, the program provides unique opportunities for students to immerse themselves in the social-ecological system they are studying, actively engaging and deepening connections to people and places in the local community and environment. Through an interdisciplinary construct, students learn to address local social, cultural, and environmental issues with learners of all ages.

Fostering a More Sustainable Future

With UVM's strong reputation as an environmental university, we routinely attract students who hold a clear interest in environmental education, outdoor education, service learning, and experiential education. Place-based education is an important approach to understanding the past while fostering a more sustainable future.

In many cases, students’ interests are paired with concerns about sustainability and social justice. Some choose formal teaching as a pathway, seeking teacher licensure and a career as a classroom teacher. Others pursue roles outside of the formal classroom as park interpreters, museum educators, or ropes course instructors. Regardless of their interests, all are committed to a type of education that adapts to local conditions and fosters learning in the context of particular places, cultures, and communities.

Place-based education is an approach grounded in the local environment, its various narratives, and the lived experience of students. Our local environment – with its natural and human histories, economic and social issues, and political and ecological dynamics – provides a robust and integrative context for teaching and learning.


To earn the certificate, undergraduate students must complete a minimum of 12 credits, including 6 or more credits at the 100-level or higher. Specific courses included in the certificate are listed below.

  • Student Spotlight

    Collage including, Samatha Marcotte, kayaking into the sunset on Lake Champlain, and UVM TREK leaders.

    "I believe the transferable outcomes and experiences that come from place-based and outdoor educational opportunities are truly far reaching.” –Samatha Marcotte '22

    See the story featuring Samantha

Required Courses

  • EDTE 061/NR 061 Foundations of Place-Based Education* (3 cr.)
  • EDTE 251 Place-Based Education Design Capstone* (3 cr.) Pre-requisites for this course are (1) EDTE 061/NR 061 and (2) one of the 100-level courses from the list of courses below.  

Elective Courses

Students complete two of the following breadth courses with at least one course at the 100-level or above:

  • CDAE 102 Sustainable Community Development (3 cr.)
  • CDAE 271 Local Community Initiatives (3 cr.)
  • CDAE 276 Community Design Studio (3 cr.)
  • CDAE 278 Applied Community Planning (3 cr.)
  • EDTE 199 Resilience-based Outdoor Education (4 cr.)
  • EDEC 181 K-3 Inquiry (3 cr.)
  • EDEL 157 Social Education and Social Studies (3 cr.)
  • EDML 296 Place-Based Teaching: Middle Grades (3 cr.)
  • EDSC 227 Teaching Science in Secondary Schools (3 cr.)
  • EDSS 200 Social Justice Education (3 cr.)
  • ENVS 173 Landscape Natural History (3 cr.)
  • ENVS 181 Environmental Justice (3 cr.)
  • ENVS 187 Campus Sustainability (3 cr.)
  • ENVS 275 Birding to Change the World (4 cr.)
  • ENVS 294 Environmental Education (3 cr.)
  • GEOG 050 Global Environments & Cultures (3 cr.)
  • GEOG 061 Place, Landscape, Environment in VT (3 cr.)
  • GEOG 070 Society, Place, and Power (3 cr.)
  • NR 001 Natural History & Human Ecology (4 cr.)
  • NR 009 Natural and Cultural History of VT (4 cr.)

*Indicates a new course.

“My time here at UVM has been amazing. The community, opportunities, faculty and staff, and everything in between truly makes it an extraordinary place to get an education.” Marshall Murphy ('20)

Place-Based Education Certificate Flyer (PDF)


Contact Us

Please reach out to our Student Services Office or contact one of the following faculty members if you are interested.

Core Faculty

  • Simon Jorgenson, Ph.D., College of Education and Social Services (CESS)

  • Walter Poleman, Ph.D., Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources (RSENR)

  • Regina Toolin, Ph.D., College of Education and Social Services (CESS)

Sponsoring Academic Units:

  • College of Education and Social Services (CESS)
  • Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources (RSENR)

Supporting Academic Units and Partners:

  • Department of Geography (College of Arts and Sciences)
  • Department of Community Development and Applied Economics (College of Agriculture and Life Sciences)
  • Shelburne Farms