Conference Strands

The Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative is convening place-based education (PBE) experts, practitioners, and newcomers in Flint, MI, for the 7th Place-Based Education Conference (November 7-9, 2019).

The conference planning team welcomed presentations that align with the conference theme Place-Based Education: Building Strong and Transformative Communities Together and seven conference strands (or beyond).


2019 Conference Strands

Ecological and Social Justice

Place-based education can provide a powerful vehicle for exploring and addressing issues of ecological and social justice and their intersections. This strand explores important topics, including education for democracy, diversity, interdependence, ecojustice, equity, inclusion, disability justice and rights, indigenous approaches to place-based education, and youth voice. 

Presentation topic ideas:

  • Looking at the intersections of ecological and social justice
  • Defining equity, inclusion, and social justice within the context of place-based education from a variety of cultural perspectives and identities

  • Creating access to place-based and outdoor experiences for people who have been labeled with disabilities 
  • The role of place-based education in advancing diversity, inclusion, equity, and ecological and social justice in communities

  • The complexities of partnership development in a hierarchical society 
  • How transformational partnership development can build healthy communities 
  • Using place to cultivate a pedagogy of responsibility 
  • Using place-based education to challenge hidden curriculum and unhealthy cultural discourse 
  • How place-based education can be used to foster racial and cultural identity development in students 
  • Understanding how place-based education can be used to address challenges facing poor and marginalized communities
  • Exploring the possibilities and challenges of taking a justice-oriented stance within the current structure of schools 
Foundational Place-Based Education

This introductory strand provides attendees with the basic framework and tools they need to use place-based education (PBE) in their schools and community.

Presentation topic ideas:

  • Why and how PBE transforms communities
  • Instructional strategies that support PBE  
  • Developing community partnerships
  • Encouraging student voice and choice
  • Case studies and examples showing PBE project genesis, development, and outcomes
  • Meeting standards and building cross-curricular alignments with PBE
  • Supporting civic action as an outcome of sustainable PBE
  • Differentiating and supporting rural and urban PBE
Great Lakes Literacy

Sessions in this strand will provide participants with an understanding of the Great Lakes’ influences on them and their influence on the Great Lakes.

Presentation topic ideas:

  • Great Lakes Literacy Principles – in theory and practice
  • Creating boundary-spanning partnerships between state and federal agencies and schools
  • Teaching Great Lakes Literacy through state education standards
  • Turning a Great Lakes field trip into meaningful, long-term PBE
Institutionalizing Place-Based Education

This strand is for PBE practitioners (and their school and community partners) who want to take PBE to the next level.

Presentation topic ideas:

  • Examples of institutionalizing PBE in schools and communities
  • Convincing grantors to support institutionalization
  • Utilizing PBE efforts to connect to state and national standards and meet local priorities
  • Creating both horizontal linkages (e.g., connecting K-12 in-school learning with out-of-school time/summer activities) and vertical linkages (e.g., middle school programming to high school career exploration/college awareness or internship programs).
  • Fueling youth engagement in community governance
Place-Based Education in Higher Education

Imagine if new teachers have already developed the mindsets and skills to engage in authentic PBE by the time they start teaching! Imagine if colleges and universities encouraged student engagement in authentic PBE experiences! Sessions in this strand will focus on both undergraduate teacher preparation and student engagement in PBE.

Presentation topic ideas:

  • Integrating PBE into teacher prep courses
  • Exploring different designs and frameworks for place-based teacher preparation programs
  • Sharing case studies and other research on place-based teacher preparation
  • Developing school-community-university partnerships
  • Examples of PBE approaches in college and university settings
  • Collaborating across higher ed institutions to build capacity and knowledge
  • Theories exploring how place and sense of place fit into higher ed
Place-Based Impact Investing and Entrepreneurship

Impact investments are investments made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Place-based impact investing, a fast-emerging practice within the impact investing rubric, anchors impact investing within a local and regional context — often addressing the needs of marginalized and/or underserved communities. To truly strengthen communities, it’s necessary to transform the way businesses and foundations invest in them. This strand will explore how to encourage this type of investing and the role of entrepreneurship in sustaining it.


Presentation topic ideas:

  • Defining the role of PBE in shaping impact investing, impact entrepreneurship, and the impact economy
  • How PBE can be used to foster collaboration between the public, private, and nonprofit sectors that result in local and regional prosperity
  • Transforming the way business and government operate in the world to achieve true sustainability
  • Highlighting innovative models and place-based tools that support the development and sustainment of an impact economy
  • Encouraging entrepreneurship in youth
  • Successful case studies, e.g.,  
STEM-Rich Place-Based Education

Place-based education (PBE) is an interdisciplinary approach making it an ideal lens for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning experiences. PBE empowers students to apply their knowledge to address real-world problems in their community.

Presentation topic ideas:

  • Strategies for connecting in- and out-of-school STEM learning
  • PBE and STEM alignment with NGSS and Common Core
  • Developing partnerships with the tech industry
  • Using PBE to raise students’ awareness of STEM careers

2019 Sponsors