Collage of students in Place-Based Education settings including Lake Champlain, Shelburne Farms, Camp Kesem, and the Vermont Statehouse.

Discover Placed-Based Education at UVM!

“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)

Prepare to access local communities and environments as a context for action-oriented teaching and learning through our 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.

Our mission is to prepare educators to teach in a variety of settings using the interdisciplinary construct of place, and the principles and practices of place-based education, to address local social, cultural, and environmental issues with learners of all ages. Our vision is to establish UVM as a national center of expertise on place-based education.

Our Approach

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.

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 to teaching and learning grounded in the local environment, its various narratives, and the lived experience of students. It is rooted in the idea that the local environment – complete with its natural and human histories, economic and social issues, and political and ecological dynamics – can provide a robust and integrative context for teaching and learning.

Much of the power of this approach stems from the fact that participants are immersed in the social-ecological system they are studying, thus providing many opportunities for active engagement and deepening connections to people and places in the local community and environment.

Place-based education is an important pedagogical approach to understanding the past while fostering a more sustainable future. Preparing educators to use place-based pedagogy in their future lives and professionals is at the root of this proposed certificate.

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

If you are interested in our Place-Based Education Certificate, please contact our Student Services office.

Contact Us

Sponsoring Academic Units:

  • College of Education and Social Services (CESS)

  • Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources (RSENR)

Supporting Academic Units:

  • Department of Geography (CAS)
  • Department of Community Development and Applied Economics (CALS)

Core Faculty:

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

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

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