How To Write A Sense Of Place Essays

All novels benefit from feeling properly placed in time and space, as do memoirs, travel tomes and most other forms of narrative non-fiction.

This quick guide tells you all you need to know, and how to get your settings right.

How descriptive writing matters

It may sound a little obvious, but simplest and most important: don’t forget to describe where a particular scene takes place.

That means:

(a) tell the reader where they are in a paragraph (or so) close to the start of any new scene.

Don’t just say in a room, rather tell them what the room was like, but share just enough to paint a vivid enough image in readers’ minds without going on or clogging your writing with too many details (which readers may then skim over).

Gabriel García Márquez, in his opening to One Hundred Years of Solitude, doesn’t just give us a village by a riverbank. His style is lyrical, but his words create specificity in our minds, too:

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs.

Straight off, we get a clear idea in few words of how the water and stones looked, thanks to word choices. But even if you’re describing a more ‘boring’ space, it is still possible to create vividness and atmosphere through specificity. So in Margaret Atwood’s dystopian thriller The Handmaid’s Tale, Offred introduces her sparse room with choice details that not only grab us but hint at something dark to come:

A chair, a table, a lamp. Above, on the white ceiling, a relief ornament in the shape of a wreath and in the centre of it a blank space, plastered over, like the place in a face where the eye has been taken out. There must have been a chandelier once. They’ve removed anything you could tie a rope to.

Morbid as it reads, details like this, in such clipped words, transport us straight to Offred’s enclosed space. We’re also told just enough to give us an image of that place, just enough to heighten tension, just enough to tease our curiosity. We’re intrigued, and we read on.

(b) remember to keep reminding the reader where they are. Unless you exit that particular location almost immediately, just keep jogging the reader’s memory as the scene progresses. More long paragraphs aren’t needed, just little nudges, such as Offred’s here.

Atwood continues to throw in details that set Offred’s story in context: why the window only opens partly, why the glass in it is shatterproof. A seemingly simple setting is used for drawing us slowly into the horrors Offred lives out as the property of the Commander in the Republic of Gilead.

But never inundate.

Paint a picture in your readers’ minds, and enough context to leave them curious to read on.

 

Choose your descriptive details

It might be tempting to share every detail with us on your surroundings.

But don’t.

Even for a place like Hogwarts, where readers really do think they want to know everything, J.K. Rowling doesn’t share how many revolving staircases students climb, how many hidden treasures in the Room of Requirement, how many trees in the Forbidden Forest, etc., etc. That’s not really the point. (And it would write off a little of Hogwarts’ magic and mystery if we had to count trees.)

The reader doesn’t care a hoot about these sorts of facts, so if you’re describing a bar, don’t say:

The bar was approximately twenty-eight feet long, by perhaps half of that wide. A long mahogany bar took up about one quarter of the floor space, while eight tables each with 4 wooden chairs occupied the remaining area. There were a number of tall bar stools arranged to accommodate any drinker who didn't want to be seated at one of the tables. The ceiling height was pleasantly commodious.

The reader wants atmosphere. That means mood.

Nothing else really matters, unless the facts are actually essential for the reader to make sense of what follows, and that bar already sounds pretty boring. Nothing happening, no sign of a character.

By contrast, we are told enough about the Korova Milk Bar by Alex in A Clockwork Orange that we sense its intimacy and darkness in just a few words: 

The mesto [place] was near empty … it looked strange, too, having been painted with all red mooing cows … I took the large moloko plus to one of the little cubies that were all round … there being like curtains to shut them off from the main mesto, and there I sat down in the plushy chair and sipped and sipped.

Point is, we don’t need to know how many cows there are on that wall, how many curtains and chairs there are. Alex’s story wouldn’t be so gripping if Anthony Burgess had taken that route, either.

We’re told what we need to know, we’re thrown into that murky Korova atmosphere and Burgess moves the action on.

A tip here from Anton Chekhov: ‘choose small details in describing [and group] them in such a way that if you close your eyes after reading it you can picture the whole thing.’

 

Write for all the senses

Obviously, visual details are important but don’t neglect the other senses. Offering a full range of sensory information will really round out your descriptive writing.

Herman Melville describes to us the chowder for the ship’s crew in Moby Dick: ‘small juicy clams, scarcely bigger than hazel nuts, mixed with pounded ship biscuits and salted pork cut up into little flakes.’ Such descriptions are deft, specific, and just enough.

Joanne Harris’ opening of Chocolat plays to readers’ senses, as we’re immersed straightaway in the world of her book through scent, sound and sight:

We came on the wind of the carnival. A warm wind for February, laden with the hot greasy scents of frying pancakes and sausage and powdery-sweet waffles cooked on the hotplate right there by the roadside, with the confetti sleeting down collars and cuffs and rolling in the gutters.

Make sure that all the details you give for your story either support the overall mood or contrast usefully with it, though. In a novel like Chocolat, this sensory description is deeply relevant to the spirit of the story and none of it overdone, either.

It must all be relevant, so don’t just add in random frills that don’t build up to a coherent whole; choose details specifically to create interest.

 

How place and action work together

You need to use the atmospheric properties of a place to add to the other (more important) properties of the scene. That doesn’t mean you should always play things the obvious way: no need for cliché.

You can have declarations of love happen in idyllic meadows, à la Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, but why not at a bus stop in the rain? A real dump of a drinking hole? Shouted over the central reservation of a motorway?

Your character also brings one kind of mood to the scene, and the action that unfolds will bring other sensations.

Lynda La Plante’s crime novel Above Suspicion makes a home setting frightening after it becomes obvious a stranger has been in protagonist DS Anna Travis’ flat, and she’s just been assigned to help solve her first murder case.

So the place is influenced by action, once Anna notices:

Reaching for the bedside lamp, she stopped and withdrew her hand. The photograph of her father had been turned out to face the room. She touched it every night before she went to sleep. It was always facing towards her, towards the bed, not away from it. … In the darkness, what had felt safe before now felt frightening: the way the dressing-table mirror reflected the street-light through the curtains and the sight of the wardrobe door left slightly ajar.

So a comfy, nondescript flat can suddenly be a frightening place because of what else is going on. Go for those angles that add drama and excitement to your work.

 

Using unfamiliar or foreign places

Using unfamiliar settings adds real mood and atmosphere.

Stephenie Meyer, when writing Twilight, decided she needed a rainy place near a forest to fit key plot elements, despite having never been to Washington State.

Like protagonist Bella, she was raised in Arizona, but explained the process of setting Twilight in an unfamiliar setting on her blog:

For my setting, I knew I needed someplace ridiculously rainy. I turned to Google, as I do for all my research needs, and looked for the place with the most rainfall in the U.S. This turned out to be the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. I pulled up maps of the area and studied them, looking for something small, out of the way, surrounded by forest. ... In researching Forks, I discovered the La Push Reservation, home to the Quileute Tribe. The Quileute story is fascinating, and a few fictional members of the tribe quickly became intrinsic to my story.

As shown by Stephenie Meyer, it’s possible to write very successfully about a place you don’t know, as long as you (fairly soon) make it your business to know as much as you can about it. (Or if you’re writing a fantasy or sci-fi novel, plan your world down to the most intricate details, so you know all you can about it.)

The key thing here is to really do your research to nail the specifics of your setting, even if they are unfamiliar, foreign, exotic.

Just read how Tokyo is described in Ryu Murakami’s thriller In the Miso Soup:

It was still early in the evening when we emerged onto a street in Tsukiji, near the fish market. ... Wooden bait-and-tackle shops with disintegrating roofs and broken signs stood next to shiny new convenience stores, and futuristic highrise apartment complexes rose skyward on either side of narrow, retro streets lined with wholesalers of dried fish.

There’s authenticity, grit to this description of Tokyo, as opposed to using ‘stock’ descriptions that could apply to many modern cities.

Note this same thing with foods: in Japan, your protagonist could well be eating miso soup, as per Ryu Murakami.

Or say if your story was set in Hong Kong, you might write in a dai pai dong (a sort of Chinese street kitchen), something very specific to that city if you’re describing a street there.

Alternatively, if you are setting something in the past, get your sense of place right by doing your research right, too.

In historical novel Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, set in Holland in 1664, maid Griet narrates how artist Johannes Vermeer prepares her for her secret portrait:

“Lick your lips, Griet.”
I licked my lips.
“Leave your mouth open.”
I was so surprised by this request that my mouth remained open of its own will. I blinked back tears. Virtuous women did not open their mouths in paintings.

That last sentence is just a tiny detail. But Griet’s tears show us how mortified she is. Modern readers won’t (always) think about seventeenth-century connotations like this when we look at Johannes Vermeer’s real painting of the anonymous girl, on which the novel idea is based.

So if you’re writing a scene set in a very different era or culture to what you know, be sure to do your research so you’re creating a true, real sense of place.

 

Using place to create foreshadowing

The idea here is that descriptions of place are never neutral.

Good writers will, in overt or gently subtle ways, introduce a place-as-character; if that character is dangerous, for example, then simply describing a place adds a layer of foreboding, foreshadowing, to the entire book.

Just read how J.R.R. Tolkien describes the Morannon in The Two Towers: ‘high mounds of crushed and powdered rock, great cones of earth fire-blasted and poison-stained ... like an obscene graveyard.’ It’s obvious from this description trouble lies ahead for Frodo Baggins and Sam Gamgee.

But even if you’re not writing this sort of fantasy, character psychology and plot (as we saw above from The Handmaids Tale) can also render seemingly harmless places suspect, too. A boring apartment in Above Suspicion becomes scary when it seems someone’s been inside, could still be there.

In the same sense, we thrill to the sense of a place with excitement and promise, too, like when Harry Potter makes his first trip to Diagon Alley (in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone) to shop for Hogwarts equipment with Hagrid:

There were shops selling robes, shops selling telescopes and strange silver instruments Harry had never seen before, windows stacked with barrels of bat spleens and eels’ eyes, tottering piles of spell books, quills, and rolls of parchment, potion bottles, globes of the moon. ... They bought Harry’s school books in a shop called Flourish and Blotts where the shelves were stacked to the ceiling with books as large as paving stones bound in leather; books the size of postage stamps in covers of silk.

Just weave place and action together like this to create atmosphere, excitement, tension, foreboding.

 

Think what you’ll add to settings

One final thought. When you’ve written a piece, go back and check your nouns.

A bad description will typically use boring nouns (or things) in settings, i.e. a table, chair, window, floor, bar, stool, etc.

If you try to fluff up that boring description by throwing in some interesting adjectives (i.e. a grimy table, gleaming window, wooden floor), the chances are you'll either have (i) made the description even more boring, or (ii) made it just plain weird.

Of course, this all works for that first passage we looked over from Margaret Atwood.

We sense Offred counting the few things she has in the little room she calls hers, the window and chair, etc., in terse phrasing. We sense her tension, her dissociation, creating both an internal and external sense of place for us, her readers. We feel trapped with her.

All the same, you’d be advised as a writer picking off interesting nouns, to begin with, when setting much of your action (nicotine, wallpaper, parchment, teak, jukebox, sawdust, etc.). Play with nouns, with taking your readers to new surroundings. Give them a Moloko. Play with your surroundings, how you can make them a bit different, or how you can render the ordinary extraordinary. With the right nouns in place, you’ll need fewer adjectives to jazz things up and when you do use them, they’ll feel right, not over the top.

 

Back to advice

 

Different people perceive the same city or neighborhood in different ways. While one person may appreciate ecological and social aspects of a neighborhood, another may experience environmental and racialized injustice.

Sense of place—including place attachment and place meanings—can help people appreciate ecological aspects of cities.

A place may also conjure contradicting emotions—the warmth of community and home juxtaposed with the stress of dense urban living. Sense of place—the way we perceive places such as streets, communities, cities or ecoregions—influences our well-being, how we describe and interact with a place, what we value in a place, our respect for ecosystems and other species, how we perceive the affordances of a place, our desire to build more sustainable and just urban communities, and how we choose to improve cities. Our sense of place also reflects our historical and experiential knowledge of a place, and helps us imagine its more sustainable future. In this chapter, we review scholarship about sense of place, including in cities. Then we explore how urban environmental education can help residents to strengthen their attachment to urban communities or entire cities, and to view urban places as ecologically valuable.

Sense of place

To see more chapters from the book, click here.

In general, sense of place describes our relationship with places, expressed in different dimensions of human life: emotions, biographies, imagination, stories, and personal experiences (Basso, 1996). In environmental psychology, sense of place—how we perceive a place— includes place attachment and place meaning (Kudryavtsev, Stedman and Krasny, 2012). Place attachment reflects a bond between people and places, and place meaning reflects symbolic meanings people ascribe to places. In short, “sense of place is the lens through which people experience and make meaning of their experiences in and with place” (Adams, 2013). Sense of place varies among people, in history, and over the course of one’s lifetime (http://www.placeness.com). People may attribute various meanings to the same place in relation to its ecological, social, economic, cultural, aesthetic, historical, or other aspects. Sense of place evolves through personal experiences, and defines how people view, interpret and interact with their world (Russ et al., 2015). In cities, sense of place echoes the intersections of culture, environment, history, politics, and economics, and is impacted by global mobility, migration, and blurred boundaries between the natural and built environment.

Research and scholarship around the relationship between “place” and learning reflects diverse perspectives, many of which are relevant to urban environmental education. Education scholars point to the need for people to develop specific “practices of place” that reflect embodied (perceptual and conceptual) relationships with local landscapes (natural, built, and human). Further, some scholars and researchers have used a lens of mobility—the globalized and networked flow of ideas, materials, and people—to build awareness of the relationship between the local and global in the construction of place in urban centers (Stedman and Ardoin, 2013). This suggests that understanding sense of place in the city generates an added set of situations and challenges, including dynamic demographics, migration narratives, and complex infrastructure networks, as well as contested definitions of natural environments (Heynen, Kaika and Swyngedouw, 2006). One critical question is how we think about sense of place in cities when places and people are constantly on the move. Given rural-urban migration, sense of place today includes where a person came from as much as where she now finds herself. In one study in a large, urban center in the U.S., Adams (2013) found that notions of “home” and identity for Caribbean-identified youth were largely constructed in the northeastern urban context in which they found themselves either through birth or immigration. Such dimensions of place relationships are vital for thinking about meaningful and relevant urban environmental education.

Sense of place is determined by personal experiences, social interactions, and identities.

Understanding sense of place in the urban context would be incomplete without a critical consideration of cities as socially constructed places both inherited and created by those who live there. Critical geographers such as Edward Soja, David Harvey, and Doreen Massey draw on a Marxist analysis to describe cities as the material consequence of particular political and ideological arrangements under global capitalism. Critical educators (e.g., Gruenewald, 2003; Haymes, 1995) have drawn upon critical geography to demonstrate how cities are social constructions imbued with contested race, class, and gender social relationships that make possible vastly different senses of place among their residents. For example, Stephen Haymes (1995) argued that against the historical backdrop of race relations in Western countries, “in the context of the inner city, a pedagogy of place must be linked to black urban struggle” (p. 129). Although Haymes was writing twenty years ago, his claim that place-responsive urban education must be linked to racial politics resonates today with the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S. and ongoing need for environmental educators to be in tune with the political realities that so deeply inform a given individual’s sense of place. This also resonates with the notion that different people may ascribe different meanings to the same place. The complexity of meaning surrounding urban places and our understandings of such contested meanings make a powerful context for personal inquiry and collective learning.

In the U.S., Tzou and Bell (2012) used ethnographic approaches to examine the construction of place among urban young people of color. Their results suggest implications for equity and social justice in environmental education, such as the damage that prevailing environmental education narratives could do to communities of color in terms of power and positioning. Further, Gruenewald (2005) suggests that traditional modes of assessment, such as standardized tests, are problematic in place-based education; instead, we need to redefine education and research as forms of inquiry that are identifiably place-responsive and afford a multiplicity of approaches to define and describe people’s relationships to the environment.

Sense of place and urban environmental education

Although not always explicitly stated, sense of place is inherent to many environmental learning initiatives (Thomashow, 2002). A goal of such programs is nurturing ecological place meaning, defined as “viewing nature-related phenomena, including ecosystems and associated activities, as symbols” of a place (Kudryavtsev, Krasny and Stedman, 2012). This approach is prevalent in bioregionalism, the “no child left inside” movement, community gardening, sustainable agriculture, as well as in natural history, place-based, and other environmental education approaches. Place-based education has goals important to urban life, including raising awareness of place, of our relationship to place, and of how we may contribute positively to this constantly evolving relationship, as well as inspiring local actors to develop place-responsive transformational learning experiences that contribute to community well-being.

Nurturing a sense of place

With the global population increasingly residing in cities, ecological urbanism requires new approaches to understanding place. How does sense of place contribute to human flourishing, ecological justice, and biological and cultural diversity? Using a theoretical basis from literature described above, we offer examples of activities to help readers construct field explorations that evoke, leverage, or influence sense of place. (Also, see a relevant diagram in Russ et al., 2015.) In practice, urban environmental education programs would combine different approaches to nurture sense of place, perhaps most prominently place-based approaches (Smith and Sobel, 2010), which teach respect for the local environment, including its other-than-human inhabitants, in any setting including cities.

In cities, factors such as rapid development and gentrification, mobility, migration, and blurred boundaries between the natural and built environment complicate sense of place.

Experiences of the urban environment

Making students more consciously aware of their taken-for-granted places is an important aspect of influencing sense of place. Focusing on places students frequent, educators can ask questions like: “What kind of place is this? What does this place mean to you? What does this place enable you to do?” Hands-on activities that allow students to experience, recreate in, and steward more natural ecosystems in cities could be one approach to nurture ecological place meaning. Another activity could use conceptual mapping to highlight places and networks that are important to students, for example, related to commuting and transportation, the internet, food and energy sources, or recreation. Maps and drawings also might focus on sensory perceptions—sights, sounds and smells—or locate centers of urban sustainability. Such maps can help students learn about specific neighborhoods, investigate the relationship among neighborhoods, or create linkages between all the places they or their relatives have lived. Further, mapping activities may help students recognize how their own activities connect to the larger network of activities that create a city, as well as allow them to reflect on issues of power, access, and equity in relation to environmental concerns such as waste, air pollution, and access to green space.

Other observational and experiential activities to instill sense of place might include: (1) exploring boundaries or borders, for example, space under highways, transition zones between communities, fences and walls; (2) finding centers or gathering places and asking questions about where people congregate and why; (3) following the movements of pedestrians and comparing them to the movements of urban animals; (4) tracing the migratory flows of birds, insects and humans; (5) shadowing city workers who are engaged in garbage removal or other public services as they move around the city; (6) observing color and light at different times of the day; (7) observing patterns of construction and demolition; and (8) working with street artists to create murals. All of these activities could serve to develop new meanings and attachments to places that may or may not be familiar to people. The activities build on seminal works related to urban design, including Christopher Alexander’s “Pattern Language,” Randolph T. Hexter’s “Design for Ecological Democracy,” Jane Jacobs “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” Jan Gehl and Birgitte Svarre’s “How to Study Public Life,” and the rich material coming from New Geographies, the journal published by the Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

Social construction of place meanings

Activities that allow people to explore and interpret places together could contribute to developing a collective sense of place and corresponding place meanings. Participatory action research and other participatory approaches raise young people’s critical consciousness, influence how they see themselves in relation to places, and build collective understandings about what it means to be young in a rapidly changing city. For example, photo-voice and mental mapping used during a participatory urban environment course allowed students, many of them from marginalized racial and ethnic groups, to experience a shift from viewing a community as a fixed geographic place to a dynamic, socially constructed space, and to describe how they experience and understand urban phenomena such as decay, gentrification, and access to green spaces (Bellino and Adams, 2014). These activities enabled students to expand their notions of what it means to be urban citizens, and to transform their ecological identities in ways that prompted them to take steps towards imagining environmentally, economically, and culturally sustainable futures.

Further, ecological place meaning can be constructed through storytelling, communication with environmental professionals, interpretation, learning from community members, and sharing students’ own stories (Russ et al., 2015), as well as through representation of places through narratives, charts, music, poetry, photographs, or other forms that encourage dialogue and reflection about what places are and how they can be cared for (Wattchow and Brown, 2011). Other social activities, such as collective art-making, restoring local natural areas, or planting a community garden, could contribute to a collective sense of place that values green space and ecological aspects of place. New socially constructed place meanings can in turn help to promote community engagement in preserving, transforming, or creating places with unique ecological characteristics (e.g., fighting to keep a community garden safe from developers), and create opportunities to maintain these ecological characteristics (e.g., group-purchasing solar power). Environmental educators who are able to engage with a community over time can watch these initiatives take root and grow, and can observe individual and collective changes in sense of place.

Developing an ecological identity

Urban environmental education can leverage people’s sense of place and foster ecological place meaning through direct experiences of places, social interactions in environmental programs, and nurturing residents’ ecological identity.

In addition to paying attention to social construction of place, environmental educators can nurture ecological identity, which fosters appreciation of the ecological aspects of cities. Humans have multiple identities, including ecological identity, which reflects the ecological perspectives or ecological lens through which they see the world. Ecological identity focuses one’s attention on environmental activities, green infrastructure, ecosystems, and biodiversity, including in urban places. Ecological identity in cities can be manifested in realizing one’s personal responsibility for urban sustainability, and feeling oneself empowered and competent to improve local places (Russ et al., 2015). Urban environmental education programs can influence ecological identity, for example, by involving students in long-term environmental restoration projects where they serve as experts on environmental topics, by valuing young people’s contribution to environmental planning, respecting their viewpoint about future urban development, and recognizing young people’s efforts as ambassadors of the local environment and environmental organizations (e.g., through work/volunteer titles, labels on t-shirts, or workshop certificates). Even involving students in projects that allow them to become more familiar with their community from an ecological perspective goes a long way towards adding an ecological layer to their identity and perception of their city (Bellino and Adams, 2014).

Conclusion

The environmental education challenge presented in this chapter is how to embed deeper meanings of place and identity in dynamic urban environments. Because urban settings tend to be diverse across multiple elements, ranging from types of green space and infrastructure to global migration, there are countless ways to proceed. In addition, while environmental educators can design and facilitate experiences to access and influence people’s sense of place, it is also important for educators to have a strong notion of their own sense of place. This is especially critical for environmental educators who may not have spent their formative years in a city. Such persons may have a sense of place informed more by frequent and ready access to natural areas, and less by access to urban diversity and the density and diversity of people found in an urban environment. It is important for all urban environmental educators to engage in reflective activities that allow them to learn about their personal sense of place, including what they value about the natural, human, and built environment. Demonstrating one’s own continued learning, and learning challenges, will greatly aid in the process of facilitating other learners developing sense of place in diverse urban settings. Through sharing their own experiences with places, all learners can deepen our awareness of and sensitivity to our environment and to each other. Such awareness and receptivity to place can positively influence collective and individual actions that help create sustainable cities.

Jennifer Adams, David A. Greenwood, Mitchell Thomashow, and Alex Russ
New York, Thunder Bay, Seattle, and Ithaca

* * * * *

This essay will appear as a chapter in Urban Environmental Education Review, edited by Alex Russ and Marianne Krasny, to be published by Cornell University Press in 2017. To see more pre-release chapters from the book, click here.

This essay also appears at the North American Association of Environmental Educators site.
References

Adams, J.D. (2013). Theorizing a sense of place in transnational community. Children, youth and environments, 23(3), 43-65.

Basso, K.H. (1996). Wisdom sits in places: Notes on a Western Apache landscape. In Feld, S. and Basso, K.H. (Eds.), Senses of place (pp. 53-90). Santa Fe, New Mexico: School of American Research Press.

Bellino, M. and Adams, J.D. (2014). Reimagining environmental education: Urban youths’ perceptions and investigations of their communities. Revista Brasileira de Pesquisa em Educação de Ciências, 14(2), 27-38.

Gruenewald, D.A. (2005). Accountability and collaboration: Institutional barriers and strategic pathways for place-based education. Ethics, Place and Environment, 8(3), 261-283.

Gruenewald, D.A. (2003). Foundations of place: A multidisciplinary framework for place-conscious education. American Educational Research Journal, 40(3), 619-654.

Haymes, S.N. (1995). Race, culture, and the city: A pedagogy for Black urban struggle. SUNY Press.

Heynen, N., Kaika, M. and Swyngedouw, E. (2006). In the nature of cities: Urban political ecology and the politics of urban metabolism. New York: Routledge.

Kudryavtsev, A., Krasny, M.E. and Stedman, R.C. (2012). The impact of environmental education on sense of place among urban youth. Ecosphere, 3(4), 29.

Kudryavtsev, A., Stedman, R.C. and Krasny, M.E. (2012). Sense of place in environmental education. Environmental education research, 18(2), 229-250.

Russ, A., Peters, S.J., Krasny, M.E. and Stedman, R.C. (2015). Development of ecological place meaning in New York City. Journal of environmental education, 46(2), 73-93.

Smith, G.A. and Sobel, D. (2010). Place- and community-based education in schools. New York: Routledge.

Stedman, R. and Ardoin, N. (2013). Mobility, power and scale in place-based environmental education. In Krasny, M. and Dillon, J. (Eds.) Trading zones in environmental education: Creating transdisciplinary dialogue (pp. 231-251). New York: Peter Lang.

Thomashow, M. (2002). Bringing the biosphere home: Learning to perceive global environmental change. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Tzou, C.T. and Bell, P. (2012). The role of borders in environmental education: Positioning, power and marginality. Ethnography and Education, 7(2), 265-282.

Wattchow, B. and Brown, M. (2011). A pedagogy of place: Outdoor education for a changing world. Monash, Australia: Monash University Publishing.

About the Writer:
David Greenwood

Dr. David A. Greenwood is an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Environmental Education at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, where he now lives in the forest with all of its wildlife.

About the Writer:
Mitchell Thomashow

Mitchell Thomashow devotes his life and work to promoting ecological awareness, sustainable living, creative learning, improvisational thinking, social networking, and organizational excellence.

About the Writer:
Alex Russ

Alex Kudryavtsev (pen name: Alex Russ) is an online course instructor for EECapacity, an EPA-funded environment educator training project led by Cornell University and NAAEE.

About the Writer:
Jennifer Adams

Jennifer D. Adams is an associate professor of science education at Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center, CUNY. Her research focuses on STEM teaching and learning in informal science contexts including museums, National Parks and everyday settings.

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