Call for Papers

Claiming the Promise of Place-based Education

“Place-based education” has become a popular term in contemporary educational rhetoric. It is found on blogs and in newspaper articles; on conference programs and in scholarly journals and teacher education course syllabi. But what exactly is place-based education and why do we devote this issue of Occasional Papers to it?

We begin with a broader definition than those who understand place-based education as education rooted primarily in the natural environment: place-based education is education grounded in the built and human (social, cultural and economic) world, as well as the natural world. The multiple dimensions of the term environment are a critical—and often overlooked—aspect of place-based approaches to education. Using a more comprehensive definition of the term, we appreciate the way that place-based education may be focused on anything from a nearby watershed, to a neighborhood in a large city, to a culture's struggle for self-definition. The curriculum for place-based education is drawn from these local environments and, as such, serves as an antidote to the top-down, bureaucratic movement to standardize education today.

In Claiming the Promise of Place-based Education we seek to provide a venue in which scholars and practitioners working in diverse settings in and out of schools can describe and critically assess a broad range of practices. We invite essays that address the challenges and joys of education that is rooted in the built, human, or natural local environment. Papers written by emerging and recognized scholars that reflect the real lives of teachers, students, and families, as well as papers that extend and deepen the progressive legacy on which Bank Street College is built will be given careful consideration. We are specifically interested in papers that address one or more of the following questions:

  • What theories, frameworks, and practices best provide examples of place-based education in action?
  • What are the challenges facing place-based education in the current educational climate?
  • Can place-based education in school and community settings foster social justice?
  • How does a comprehensive definition of "place" foster new possibilities for educators and students?
  • Are there correlations between academic achievement, cognitive development, or social-emotional health and place-based education that emphasize time spent in natural environments? If so, what are they and how were they determined?
  • What influence, if any, have nature preschools or forest kindergartens had on early childhood education more generally?


We welcome:

  • Accounts of practice and critical reflection
  • Research with strong data analysis and discussion
  • Theoretically oriented papers
  • Reflective essays

Manuscripts should be double spaced and formatted in APA Style; papers lacking APA formatting will not be reviewed. Text manuscripts may be between 3000-5000 words. As an online journal, we encourage authors to use a reader-friendly, accessible style including shorter rather than longer paragraphs, generous use of subheadings and images whenever appropriate.

Only unpublished manuscripts that are not under review by other publications are eligible for consideration.

Due Date: August 1, 2014

Send manuscripts as Word documents, subject line OP Special Issue Submission, to Susan Stires—

This special edition of the Bank Street Occasional Paper Series is guest edited by:

  • Roberta Altman—
  • Susan Stires—
  • Susan Weseen—

If you have questions or would like to discuss your ideas, please contact one of the guest editors.