Place-Based Education (PBE) is an experiential pedagogy that emphasizes deep and meaningful connections between students, school and community. Through repeated immersion and engagement with the school and community, students gradually build personal connections and cultivate a sense of place. A good PBE connects the community to the student’s emotions, thoughts, sense of history and culture, sense of self, growth and even spiritual well-being. High-end expressions of PBE involve “curriculum speciation”, where local conditions, community and environment influence curriculum content and design. At the lower end, programmes are termed “place-responsive”. Existing one-off programmes can be place-responsive by incorporating approaches and activities that promote knowledge of and feelings about a place. PBE, as we interpret it, goes beyond normal field trips because it builds multi-dimensions of connections; because tacit learning has pedagogical legitimacy; and because the programmes are designed primarily for understanding, developing and appreciating one’s sense of place in the community. PBE is, in essence, about “rooted-ness by experience”.

The theme for the inaugural seminar held in 2010 was “Growing Connections”, and it emphasized the key difference that separates Place-based Education from other community-based programmes.


The objectives of the 2010 Conference included:

  1. To provide teachers with the language and theoretical frameworks surrounding PBE;
  2. To explore how PBE could enhance the holistic development of students;
  3. To provide a platform for PBE specialists and teachers to share their experiences in the conceptualizing and conducting of PBE experiences for their students;
  4. To establish a network of local practitioners for the purpose of developing this field.

Senior Minister of State, Ministry of National Development and Ministry of Education, Ms Grace Fu, was the Guest of Honour.

The keynote speakers included Dr Clifford Knapp (Professor Emeritus, Department of Teaching & Learning of Northern Illinois University), Dr Peter Martin (Centre for Excellence in Outdoor & Environmental Education of La Trobe University), Associate Professor Vilma D’Rozario (National Education of Education of Singapore) and Mr Yap Kheng Guan (Director, 3P Network Department of the Public Utilities Board of Singapore).

The Programme included workshops conducted by RIEL and other educational institutions such as NUS, NTU and SMU, as well as partners such as NHB, NAC, NParks and the Nature Society (Singapore).