What is the Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (GLSI)?
The Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative (GLSI) is an exciting effort to expand classrooms and strengthen communities while developing the next generation of environmental stewards. It was established and is funded primarily by the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, with support from the Wege Foundation. Additional funding has been provided by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Community Foundation for Muskegon County, the Fremont Area Community Foundation, and the Frey Foundation. The nine hubs that comprise the GLSI have also earned significant support for their work from foundations, various state and federal agencies, regional and local businesses, and individual donors.
How many people have participated in the GLSI?
From November 2007 through the 2014–15 school year, more than 900 teachers, 200 schools, and 400 community members have participated in place-based education coordinated and supported by the GLSI’s regional hubs. Through these place-based education efforts—which are designed to engage students, teachers, and schools in work related to local stewardship needs—goals for learning are achieved and communities are improved. The GLSI has made more than 80,000* student place-based education experiences possible. An additional 630 teachers in 66 schools have taken part in professional development focused on place-based education and stewardship.
*Students are counted once for each school year; opportunities for students to have more experiences in subsequent school years vary by school.
What are the GLSI hubs and where are they located?
The GLSI hubs (and their fiscal agents) are:
The hubs are located across the state. To see a map, click here.
How does the GLSI engage schools and civic organizations?
The GLSI’s core strategies include place-based education, sustained professional development for K–12 teachers, and the establishment of K–12 school-community partnerships. Grants are awarded to regional hubs that develop solid plans to bring these strategies to life in their service areas. The hubs provide leadership, expertise, support for classroom teachers, and material and financial resources for the collaborative, community-based work of local organizations, K–12 students, teachers, and schools.
What is place-based education (PBE)?
In place-based education (PBE), teaching and learning take place in the context of the surrounding environment. Specifically, PBE involves firsthand explorations of the local community that encourage inquiry, discovery, and problem solving, all of which develop students’ academic skills and habits of mind. Students study real-world issues that are relevant to their own lives and to the lives of those who live nearby. We know that the GLSI is working when classes of students and their teachers work with one or more community organizations to learn about and take action on an environmental topic or stewardship need of local importance.
Does the instruction provided to students through the GLSI meet state education standards and guidelines?
The teaching and learning that takes place through the GLSI is aligned with state and local standards.
How does place-based education promote academic achievement?
The use of place as a framework for teaching and learning is very compatible with student-centered, inquiry-based, cross-curricular teaching strategies that develop students’ abilities to think critically and apply subject-matter learning to real-world issues and problems. Teachers who practice robust PBE through the GLSI, as well as practitioners elsewhere in the nation, say students are more engaged in learning, learn at deeper levels, and retain what they learn. The hands-on character of PBE is embraced by some students who have difficulty in a traditional classroom, and reinforces learning for students who excel in more traditional learning environments.
What other benefits come from PBE?
- Engagement in school and learning
One of the most universally recognized benefits of PBE is that it engages students in school and in learning. This seems logical: learning is more relevant when it is organized around the places and the people that students know, and when students can see how knowledge and skills in science, language arts, social studies, mathematics, and technology can be applied in daily life. Furthermore, when PBE opportunities allow students to genuinely help their own community, they take great pride in their contributions.
At a time when people are growing more concerned about young people staying indoors, being physically inactive, and feeling alienated from their communities, the GLSI is helping young people to reconnect with nature, engage in the places they live, and become active environmental stewards.
- Mutually beneficial school-community partnerships
PBE is not just about where learning takes place; it also draws on people in the community to share their knowledge and experience with young learners and connect them to viable, on-the-ground stewardship needs. Teachers and students benefit from the knowledge of community members and community members enhance their relationships with local schools, all while helping to advance an ethic of environmental stewardship.