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

Engage with local communities and environments as a context for action-oriented teaching and learning through UVM's cross-college Place-Based Education (PBE) Undergraduate Certificate Program. 

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 approach, 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. 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. Specific courses included in the certificate are listed in the accordion dropdowns 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/NR 1610 Foundations of Place-Based Education 
  • EDTE 3510 Place-Based Education Capstone 

Elective Courses

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

  • CDAE 2020 Sustainable Community Development
  • CDAE 3710 Local Community Initiatives 
  • CDAE 3760 Community Design Studio 
  • CDAE 3780 Applied Community Planning 
  • EDTE 2889 Resilience-based Outdoor Education 
  • EDEC 3810 K-3 Inquiry
  • EDEL 3570 Social Education and Social Studies
  • EDML 3990 Place-Based Teaching Middle Grades
  • EDSC 3227 Teaching Science in Secondary Schools
  • EDSS 3220 Social Justice Education
  • EDSP 3899 Global Resilience Families, School, Communities
  • GEOG 1760 Global Environments & Cultures
  • GEOG 1765 Place, Landscape, Environment in VT
  • GEOG 1780 Society, Place, and Power
  • NR 1010 Natural History and Human Ecology
  • NR 1090 Natural and Cultural History of VT
  • NR 2730 Landscape Natural History
  • NR 2810 Environmental Justice
  • NR 3950 Environmental Education
  • NR 4080 Birding to Change the World
  • PRT 4550 Environmental Interpretation

“The community, opportunities, faculty and staff, and everything in between truly makes UVM 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