Posted on: October 3, 2017
In higher education, does place matter?
That was the research question that formed the basis of a five-year experiment into place-based education at TRU. The results of this experiment launch today in the 15th Green Guide, Place-Based Education: An Inter and Multidisciplinary Approach, authored by five TRU faculty members, and published by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.
The guide, authored by Lyn Baldwin, Nancy Flood, Kim Naqvi, Ginny Ratsoy and Elizabeth Templeman, is described as a toolbox for post-secondary educators to incorporate place and place-based learning methods into curriculum.
For Baldwin, the foray into place-based learning began in 2009 when TRU began investing in internationalizing the curriculum.
“In the face of globalization, how do you cultivate that sense of belonging, both to a community and to a place? To teach and to pretend that ‘place’ doesn’t exist felt unethical,” she said.
It became important to Baldwin, and to the other members of a research group investigating the pedagogy of place in post-secondary education, that greater emphasis needed to be given to educating students about the place where they had come from, and about the place they had come to learn.
“The best way to understand other people and other places is to be on intimate terms with your own,” said Baldwin, an associate professor of biology.
One of the assignments within the guide is a postcard project, whereby students are asked to create a postcard that describes something relevant to the specific subject being taught — whether it’s BC literature, biometrics, ecology or Canadian history.
In Baldwin’s ecology class, students were asked to create a postcard describing an instance of plant succession that they had observed in the place they call “home.” Upon completing the assignment, students were then asked to write a reflective essay about the project.
“They’re applying what they have learned to a place that they know. If you’re trying to make your education relevant, you can’t ignore the space you’re in.”
Dr. Lyn Baldwin