Date of Award



Deane Wang, PhD

Thomas Visser, MS

Walter Poleman, PhD

Document Type



Community health surges when inhabitants share a rich sense of place, a quality emerging when people are deeply engaged in understanding their complex and layered landscape. Wendell Berry advises, “if you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.” But how does a city converge around a collective “where” that authentically represents its diverse stories and perspectives? Answers to this question become tools for growing sustainable communities.

As a program coordinator for the UVM/Shelburne Farms PLACE (Place-based Landscape Analysis and Community Engagement) Program, I orchestrated a city-wide celebration of integrated natural and cultural history called Burlington Geographic. This twelve-part program series explored Burlington's place-based identity by investigating and interpreting the local landscape through various conceptual lenses. We hosted public evening presentations, field trips, high school classes, and professional development programs for educators. Topics ranged from geology to food, and electricity to ethnicity, rooted in principles of place-based education and community engagement. This series welcomed over 600 participants and involved over 30 city agencies, small businesses, schools, and non-profit organizations. We are now leveraging this momentum to harness Burlington’s recent U.N. designation as a Center of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development.

Whole-Community_Placebuilding_Beckett_Final.pdf (739 kB)
Whole-Community Placebuilding: An Academic Reflection

Literature_Review_Beckett_Final.pdf (822 kB)
Placebuilding for Sustainability: A Literature Review