Coordinating and supporting the Great Lakes Place-based Education (PBE) Conference is one of the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative’s (GLSI) greatest accomplishments. Each year the conference brings together practitioners and teachers from various formal and informal educational settings, local partners from across the region, and staff of other organizations, all of whom provide vital leadership and resources to the cause of developing environmental stewards of the Great Lakes and their ecosystems.

The next PBE conference will be held in 2017. Please check this site regularly for updates on the dates and venue. For now, feel free to review summaries of past conferences (below) to better understand the depth and breadth of the content covered at this unique and invigorating event.

2015 Conference

In 2015, stakeholders from across the state immersed themselves in place-based education at the fifth annual Great Lakes Place-based Education Conference. Held in Grand Rapids, Michigan (November 5–7), the conference offered nearly 250 attendees opportunities to learn from keynote speakers who had contributed to positive change in their own communities, attend workshops and field trips in and around the host city, and have fun learning and showing off best practices in place-based education. Armed with the information and skills they learned, attendees left the conference feeling ready to inspire others to help advance place-based education in their own schools and communities. The conference was coordinated by Groundswell and Grand Valley State University’s College of Education, with support from the GLSI.

Keynote Speakers
Field Trip and Workshop Descriptions
Final Conference Agenda

2014 Conference

The 2014 Great Lakes Place-based Education Conference was held in Grand Rapids, Michigan (November 6–8) and co-hosted by the GLSI and Groundswell, a regional GLSI hub. By popular demand, the conference again featured a full day of field trips covering such topics as Geology and the Great Lakes, Project WET and Project Learning Tree, Using Design Thinking in Stewardship Education, and Mapmaking with Children. The regular conference offered attendees numerous opportunities to hear presentations and network with peers, in addition to learning from prominent keynote speakers David T. Sobel (director of the Center for Place-based Education at Antioch University), Teresa Weatherall Neal (superintendent of Grand Rapids Pubic Schools), and Kim Rowland (middle school science teacher and member of the school’s leadership team).

Final Conference Agenda

2013 Conference

The 2013 Great Lakes Place-based Education Conference—held in Grand Rapids, Michigan (November 7–9)—brought numerous stakeholders together for three days to learn about place-based education, environmental stewardship, and service learning. For the first time ever, this conference also devoted an entire day to field trips in and around Grand Rapids. The trips were organized by the staff of Groundswell, a regional hub of the GLSI and a conference co-host. Keynote speakers included Jordan Howard, an energetic leader at the intersection of sustainability, environmental education, and youth empowerment, and Dr. Shelley Billig, who explores and documents the impact of service learning on students.

Final Conference Agenda

2012 Conference

In 2012, the inaugural GLSI Place-based Conference was held in East Lansing, Michigan (November 13–14). It brought nearly 250 people together for two days to celebrate and advance powerful learning about environmental stewardship happening in schools and communities across the Great Lakes region. A variety of presentations explored strategies in teaching, professional development, and community involvement. Other speakers, including groups of students, presented exciting results of their stewardship projects. Conference attendees enjoyed fast-paced “ignite” sessions, forum discussions, traditional break-out sessions, and keynote presentations by author and Great Lakes advocate Jerry Dennis and Doris Williams with the Rural School and Community Trust.

Final Conference Agenda