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What is Place-Based Education?

Place-based education (PBE) immerses students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences, using these as a foundation for the study of language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and other subjects across the curriculum. PBE emphasizes learning through participation in service projects for the local school and/or community.

Research has shown that well-designed initiatives can achieve the goals outlined below. Learn more about the principles of the place-based education and answers to frequently asked questions.

Place-based Education Goals

Place-based education can "feed three birds with the same seed" as it addresses the integrated goals of:

Student Achievement

PBE boosts students' engagement, academic achievement, and sense of personal efficacy as stewards of their local environment and community. It also can re-energize teachers.

Community Social and Economic Vitality

PBE forges strong ties between local social and environmental organizations and their constituencies in the schools and community, which helps to improve quality of life and economic vitality.

Ecological Integrity

Through project-based learning, students make tangible contributions to resolving local environmental issues and conserving local environmental quality.


Wilderness Arts & Literacy

Students in the Wilderness Arts and Literacy Collaborative participate in academic courses that use outdoor experiences as the integrating framework. Hiking and camping trips expose inner city, low-income students to wilderness areas they may never have visited otherwise. They connect these experiences back to students' city lives through projects such as habitat restoration at a neighborhood park, a school recycling program, and environmental education presentations to other classes.

The Wilderness Arts and Literacy Collaborative (WALC) at Balboa High School
San Francisco, CA

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