Place-Based Learning

Burlington is a mosaic of built and wild environments. Whether you are a K-12 educator teaching civic engagement as part of a social studies course or a college student studying urban forestry, there are many opportunities to make Burlington your classroom. For a small city, Burlington hosts a surprising diversity of landscapes. The history and development of the Queen City opens many doors for place-based exploration.

Educational Project Examples

Envisioning the Waterfront: Burlington High School

During this pioneer three-week Year-End Studies (YES) course offered at Burlington High School in June of 2012, teacher Dov Stucker led an intrepid group of students in a course called "Envisioning the Waterfront." Students met with city planners, non-profit leaders, conservationists, and city government officials (including the mayor of Burlington) to understand the complex history and nature of Burlington's waterfront. Taking what they learned during the first two weeks of the course, they then prepared a brief for the mayor's office on the criteria they felt were important in considering future development along the waterfront. » Read more

Burlington Geographic: Burlington High School

In this June 2016 Year-End Studies course at Burlington High School, Burlington Geographic hosted teacher Peter McConville and his class of ten high school students in a cross-city exploration to reinvent the traditional classroom education model. Students visited community partners to brainstorm place-based curriculum ideas that could offer students high school credit through community-based, hands-on learning: They talked aerodynamics, physics, and watershed conservation while sailing with the Community Sailing Center. They investigated the history of Burlington High School with the staff and resources at UVM's Special Collections. They learned how to conduct ethnographic interviews of community leaders and family members with the Vermont Folklife Center. They learned about ecology and park planning with Burlington Parks, Recreation & Waterfront. After two weeks of these rewarding immersions and more, the students synthesized their experience into a group presentation about the potential of such collaborations.

Land-Use History of Potash Brook: Rice Memorial High School

With a grant from EPSCoR Center for Workforce Development and Diversity at Saint Michael’s College, a team of two students and their history teacher had the opportunity to study the changes in land use along Potash Brook. The group spent the summer of 2012 studying deeds, maps and related filings in the public records. They unlocked dozens of primary documents held in the Special Collections and Map Departments at the University of Vermont, and spent some time interviewing residents and recording oral histories. » Read more

Sustainable Landscape Ecology: UVM High School Summer Academy

High school students enrolled in the two-week intensive UVM Summer Academy course "Sustainable Landscape Ecology" explored the natural places around Burlington, using the Burlington Geographic focal areas as their study centers. Through comparing and contrasting the varying geology, soils, ecology, and human land-use patterns, the students gained an understanding of how to look at the many pieces, patterns, and processes at work in a areas at the urban-wild intersection. » Read more

Place-Based Landscape Analysis: UVM Rubenstein School of Environment & Natural Resources

Much of the content from the Focal Places section of this website comes directly from research carried out by graduate students in the UVM course NR 378: Place-Based Landscape Analysis and Sustainability Education. This semester-long course brought together students from varying backgrounds to do an integrative analysis of particular places within the Burlington landscape. As future courses unfold, the work of the students will likely be incorporated into Burlington Geographic. » Read more