Also see our guide to experiential learning and the writing classroom.
Session 1--Place Foundations, or Where Do We Come From?
“The real story begins with the land.” — John Hanson Mitchell, The Paradise of All These Parts: A Natural History of Boston
“A multidisciplinary analysis of place reveals the many ways that places are profoundly pedagogical. That is, as centers of experience, places teach us about how the world works and how our lives fit into the spaces we occupy.” – David A. Gruenewald
Questions to consider:
- What does place mean to us, to our students, and to/for our teaching? Where are we from and how has it, does it, or can it affect us as teachers, our pedagogies Where are our students from and how does it affect their learning and engagement with course materials and with each other?
- How do the frameworks Gruenewald and Smith offer for place-based learning compare? How do the contemporary issues that Shannon and Galle address demonstrate both continuity and change in relation to the earlier theories?
- Gruenewald quotes Geertz (1996): “[N]o one lives in the world in general.”
Where do our students ‘live’—e.g. do they live in the world in general? (digital natives, global citizens, etc.) How does place affect student engagement? How can Boston operate as a shared place?
- David A. Gruenewald, “Foundations of Place: A Multidisciplinary Framework for Place-Conscious Education” (2003)
A foundational text in the area, quoted by many. Gruenewald is a key figure of the modern movement for place-based education. In this article, he describes five “dimensions” of place that can help us engage in place-based education.
- Gregory A. Smith, “Place-based education: Learning to be Where we Are” (2002)
Another often-quoted classic text in place-based education. Smith discusses the historical background of place-based education and five “thematic patterns” in place- based education that can apply to a range of contexts.
- Deric Shannon and Jeffery Galle, Chapter 1: “Where We Are: Place, Pedagogy, and the Outer Limits,” from Interdisciplinary Approaches to Pedagogy and Place-Based Education From Abstract to Quotidian (2017)
This introduction to a recent collection cites another article of Gruenewald’s and quotes from David Sobel, another pivotal figure in PBE. It provides a quick, readable view of some current central issues in place-based pedagogy, including some more recent tensions that stretch the notion of place.
Session 2--A Collaborative Pedagogy of Place: Wandering, Translocality, Multidisciplinarity
“But if you are an urban wanderer, the type who will follow streets, paths, and alleyways because they are there, you will inevitably discover Boston’s other, less obvious, neighborhoods.” —Lynda Morgenroth
“All of this activity occurring in one place (instead of many) further magnifies the integrative learning and educational impact. Students and faculty are able to make connections across investigations and disciplines that might not be possible otherwise. The fragmentation of knowledge that can occur through highly focused studies is overcome (or at least reduced) by a collaborative pedagogy of place.” — Jeffrey Scott Coker on the Elon Forest
“They could do all of this because there is no physicality in digital space. It is the realm in which one can test the possible, and not be tied down to the fixed and unchanging realm of actuality.” — Laureen Park on DURA
Questions to consider:
- As Coker suggests, can focusing students’ attention on one place enable deeper, more coherent engagement with complex problems and multiple disciplines?
- How do we use place-based pedagogy to exploit the versatility of the kind of virtual spaces which Park describes? What opportunities do virtual spaces offer by giving us the ability to inhabit different places even while we’re occupying the same physical space? How do students’ attachments to multiple literal and virtual places affect their learning, their writing, their engagement?
- What kind of place is the classroom? Can bringing and sending students to places outside the classroom focus their attention in ways not possible inside it?
- How do we teach students as local-global citizens using their place-attachments and cultivating a sense of translocality, or “global sense of place”? How do we explore the multiplicity of places that they (and we) bring into our classrooms?
- Jeffrey Scott Coker, “Pedagogy and Place in Science Education” (2017)
Coker argues for the necessity of incorporating place-based education into science due to the need to frameshift between concrete and abstract thinking. He describes the inspiring multidisciplinary discoveries made possible by the protection of a forest on campus.
- Karen Goodlad and Anne Leonard, “Place-Based Learning across the Disciplines: A Living Laboratory Approach to Pedagogy” (2018)
Goodlad and Leonard analyze a campus-wide program that encouraged faculty to engage in place-based learning in response to a new set of general education requirements.
- Laureen Park, “The Varieties of Place-Based Education” (2018)
Park uses Hussrel’s theories as a lens to explore urban and digital environments as sites for place-based education.
- Michael Sheridan, “Genius Loci: Introducing a Place-conscious Approach to Management Education” (2018)
Sheridan applies Gruenewald’s framework to Management courses, arguing for the benefits of a local focus in contrast to primarily global trends.
Session 3--'A Slow Pedagogy of Place': Assignments That Cultivate Place-Sense
“Moving toward a migratory conception of place, then, does not mean altogether abandoning the local.” — John Hultgren
“Following Philip Payne and Brian Wattchow’s ‘slow pedagogy of place,’ the nature journal was thus designed to facilitate a process that ‘allows us to pause or dwell in spaces for more than a fleeting moment, and, therefore, encouraged us to attach and receive meaning from that place’” — Traci Warkentin
Questions to consider:
- How do theories and principles of place-based pedagogy that we have previously explored shape the teaching described in our readings for this week?
- How do the pedagogical strategies in these readings encourage students to invest in local places, to cultivate place intimacy, and to transform their perspectives on familiar physical and psychogeographical landscapes?
- Thomas Hothem, “Suburban Studies and College Writing: Applying Ecocomposition (2009)
Hothem discusses ecocomposition “a composite term for writing instruction that implicates natural environments as well as ‘classroom environments, political environ- ments, electronic environments, ideological environments, historical environments, [and] economic environments,’ to name but a few” (35). He describes in detail his first-year writing course The Suburban Experience which challenges undergraduates to analyze suburbia as a place with a rich set of dynamic, distinct identities.
- Fidelia Twenge-Jinings and Joanna Sullivan, “Rose City Reading: Towards an Open Educational Resource with a Place-Based Curriculum” (2016)
Twenge-Jinings and Sullivan describe a course they taught to international ESOL students to help them engage with the city of Portland through outside the classroom experiences that linked with course readings. They provide a list of local activities that facilitated their students’ connection to Portland and enhanced student-student and student-instructor relationships inside and outside the classroom.
- Traci Warkentin, “Cultivating Urban Naturalists: Teaching Experiential, Place-based Learning through Nature Journaling in Central Park” (2011)
Warkentin discusses how observing in pairs and journaling in Central Park over the semester transformed students’ ideas about nature and the natural and encouraged them to reexamine their previously held views about human relationships to place.
- Anne Whiston Spirn, The Once and Future City (Spring 2018 class)
A website for the course of a landscape-architect professor at MIT which presents assignment descriptions and sample multi-modal student writing assignments that deeply explore specific Boston sites by analyzing natural processes, observing patterns of infrastructural and social change, and identifying traces of the past in order to predict the future.