Skip to main content
Sign In

Place-based Education (PbE) Certificate

One of the keys to culturally responsive pedagogy for diverse populations in formal/informal settings is to understand how learners are situated in different places. Place refers not only to the physical location and elements of a community (e.g. Coors Field in Lower Downtown Denver), but the relationships that people have to these places, and the meanings attached to these relationships. For example, a cab driver and an out-of-state visitor are likely to perceive downtown Denver in different ways. Likewise, urban sprawl means something different to a person born and raised in Denver than it does to a person living in rural Indiana. Learners use these different attachments to places, their sense of place, to comprehend the range of subjects in a school curriculum (science, history, language arts, etc.) as well as their everyday experiences. A place-based education validates different ways of knowing the world, and recognizes that the subjectivities associated with sense of place are a source of strength rather than a hindrance to student learning. A culturally responsive pedagogy requires educators to engage in place-based education, where place becomes the context for inclusive curriculum and instruction.

Certificate Structure

The certificate is designed as a three‐course sequence. Courses are structured in a way that provides a scaffolded learning experience for students. Given that PbE is interdisciplinary by nature, courses in the certificate program are also offered in a variety of content areas. Students will take their courses in sequence, starting with a foundations course, followed by an experiential course and ending with a capstone course.

The certificate consists of three courses, totaling 9 credit hours, and may be earned in one year. The certificate sequence begins in spring and ends in fall.

Certificate Format

Online, approved travel study, placement in the Teacher Ranger Teacher (TRT) program, or Teachers on Public Lands (TPL) program required for 2nd course in series.


All courses are three graduate credit hours. Tuition is $359.50/credit (for course 1 and 3 only), plus student fees of $10/credit, plus $100 online course fee, for a total of $1,208.50/course.​​ The tuition will vary by course selected for course 2 in the series.

If completing as a TRT or TPL: the second course is paid for by National Park Service or Bureau of Land Management, respectively.

Related Degree Programs

MA Curriculum and Instruction - Elementary Math and Science Education
MA Curriculum and Instruction - Elementary Science Education
MA Curriculum and Instruction - Secondary Science Education

Courses Term Offered
SECE 5650: Environmental Education
The first course is focused on FOUNDATIONS of PbE. It will cover the theoretical and epistemological foundations of PbE, giving students a historical overview of the discipline and explaining the progression of ideas informing research, teaching and learning.
Late Spring
SECE 5670: Experiential Learning in the Parks
Completed as part of program – Teacher Ranger Teacher or Teachers on Public Lands The second course is EXPERIENTIAL; it is intended to provide a field experience related to PbE. This allows students to understand how theory informs practice through reflections and real-world experiences utilizing PbE. As an alternative option students may take ENVS 5995: Along the Yangtze: Globalization, Environment and Sustainability GEOG 5995: Sustainable Development and Adaptive Resource Management in the Field: The Costa Rican Experience, please contact College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for these offerings.

SECE 5690: Curriculum Development in Place-Based Education
The third and final course in the certificate program is APPLICATION where students develop and implement a ‘capstone’ project grounded in PbE theory, research and practice.
This course must be taken last in the series.

CU Denver School of Education &
Human Development

1380 Lawrence St., Denver, CO 80204 | Map It

© The Regents of the University of Colorado, a body corporate. All rights reserved.

Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. All trademarks are registered property of the University. Used by permission only.