Great Lakes Lifeways Institute

Embracing Regional Traditions, Land, Arts and Culture


The Great Lakes Lifeways Institute will serve as a regional leader to promote, inspire, facilitate and provide key resources to integrate Place Based Education as an effective and meaningful teaching and learning strategy in West Michigan Schools.

What is GLLI doing with Place Based Education?

ThinkGrand Project Overview

Fall 2011 ThinkGrand Project Update

What is Place Based Education?

Placed Based Education is an innovative and holistic approach to environmental education where learning is grounded in and supports the development of a love for one’s place. The approach is holistic in the sense that the concept of environment is broadly defined to include our local natural and cultural environments, as well as local community understood in the context of time, both past, present and looking toward the future. 

Place Based Education is based upon the value of relationship building through in depth interaction and a range of meaningful interdisciplinary learning experiences over time.  As human beings we cultivate value for things though our relationships with them.  As we interact, discover and learn, we come to appreciate the value of both their concrete and abstracts qualities. 

The successful implementation of Place Based Education requires thoughtful planning, dedication of time and development of relationships/partnerships with local organizations, agencies, knowledge bearers and other key resources.  Implementation of this approach cannot be achieved through isolated learning experiences or projects, but instead should be thoroughly integrated into an institution’s long term approach to programs and curriculum.

Principles of Place-Based Education

  1. Learning is interactive and takes place on-site in the local community and environment.

  2. Learning focuses on local themes, systems, and content.

  3. Learning is personally relevant to the learner, and provides the tools for lifelong self directed learning.

  4. Learning experiences contribute to the community’s overall vitality and environmental quality and support the community’s role in fostering global environmental quality.

  5. Learning is supported by strong and varied partnerships with local organizations, individuals, agencies, businesses, and government.

  6. Learning is interdisciplinary, hands-on and engaging.

  7. Learning involves the intergenerational and cross-cultural sharing of knowledge and experiences.

  8. Learning experiences are tailored to the local audience.

  9. Learning is grounded in and supports the development of a love for one’s place.

  10. Local learning serves as the foundation for understanding and participating appropriately in regional and global issues.


  1. Assist Goodwillie Environmental School and Blandford School in serving as as models for other schools in West Michigan and sharing effective resources, approaches, curriculum models and program outcomes.

  2. Develop strategies to create regional dialogue, awareness and interest in Place Based Education and to cultivate relationships with new partners

  3. Create a web based resource for educators and organizations to network with each other and access materials and resources regarding Placed Based Education


Goodwillie Environmental School, Blandford School, Chatfield School

Partner Programs

   Goodwillie Environmental School

    Blandford School

    Chatfield School

Additional Resources

    Promise of Place


Place Based Education

All the wonders of the wide world may best be

understood in the microcosm of one’s backyard....

Placed Based



Current Initiatives

   Place Based Education

    Wild Rice Restoration   

Events and Programs

    Events Calendar  

Media & Publications

    Black Ash Basketry Film    

Past Projects

     Voyageur Canoe

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GLLI in the Media