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Principles of Place-based Education

Introducing place-based education in schools and communities works best when you give its roots a chance to grow deep and strong before expecting too many flowers. We’ve found the following principles to be key to PBE programs These principles are helpful starting points, but can also be overwhelming. Remember that PBE is an ongoing process that can be refined along the way. New and seasoned practitioners will most definitely run into challenges — and come up with creative and practical solutions — as they design place-based education initatives. You may also find our planning tools helpful for getting started.

Principles of Successful Place-Based Education

  • Learning takes place on-site in the school yard, and in the local community and environment.
  • Learning focuses on local themes, systems, and content.
  • Learning is personally relevant to the learner.
  • Learning experiences contribute to the community’s vitality and environmental quality and support the community’s role in fostering global environmental quality.
  • Learning is supported by strong and varied partnerships with local organizations, agencies, businesses, and government.
  • Learning is interdisciplinary.
  • Learning experiences are tailored to the local audience.
  • Learning is grounded in and supports the development of a love for one’s place.
  • Local learning serves as the foundation for understanding and participating appropriately in regional and global issues.
  • Place-based education programs are integral to achieving other institutional goals.

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Fungi Map

Volunteers make observations of 50 easily identifiable species of fungi during their hikes in the park. Park staff use visitor reports to better understand where and when these species of fungi can be found in the park. These programs focus on involving volunteers in hands-on learning while providing valuable data for actual park research projects


Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC


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