Fostering an Ethic of Place

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Higher education must lead the way in preparing learners for citizenship in a world where the complex issues of sustainability—environmental quality, true community health and wellbeing, and social equity and justice—are paramount.

Curriculum for the Bioregion engages faculty communities in exploring these issues and in building sustainability concepts and place-based learning into a broad array of courses and disciplines. An initiative of the Washington Center for Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Education, we bring together faculty and staff as well as community leaders and experts throughout Washington State to strengthen sustainability education.

  • "We need a new ethic of place, one that has room for salmon and skyscrapers, suburbs and wilderness, Mount Rainier and the Space Needle, one grounded in history."
    — Matthew Klingle, writing in Emerald City: An Environmental History of Seattle
  • "None of us are experts; we all need to learn together, the issues can quickly seem large and overwhelming; we each just need a place to start."
    — Kim McNamara, Olympic College
  • "And because a community is, by definition, placed, its success cannot be divided from the success of its place…its soils, forests, grasslands, plants and animals, water, light, and air. The two economies, the natural and the human, support each other; each as the other’s hope of a durable and a livable life."
    — Wendell Berry, farmer, poet
  • "In facing the challenges of profound change, there is no substitute for collaboration—people coming together out of common purpose and willing to support one another so all can advance."
    — Peter Senge, systems thinker
  • "You may be able to fool the voters, but not the atmosphere."
    — Donella Meadows, futurist
  • "Our challenge is to give students a toolbox for developing a sense of place and an ingrained motivation for using these tools that they will carry with them wherever they go in the future."
    — Amy Snover, University of Washington Climate Impacts Group
  • "Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished."
    — Mary Oliver, poet
  • "People who take care of places, one place at a time, are the key to the future of humanity and all living creatures."
    — Robert L. Thayer, Jr., landscape architect


The Washington Higher Education Sustainability Conference will take place at Gonzaga University February 16-17, 2017.  With the theme, "Caring for our Common Home," the conference welcomes staff, faculty, students, and community partners for two days of cutting-edge theory and practice on sustainability on campus.  Here is the the link for additional conference information and registration.   

Visit our Events page for additional details and news of other sustainability related gatherings.  

What's New

Just published by Routledge Press! Contemplative Approaches to Sustainability in Higher Education is a collection of essays exploring how we might foster in college students the cognitive complexity, ethical development, and personal resolve that is required for living in this "sustainability century." Meeting over several years, the Curriculum for the Bioregion's faculty learning community on "Sustainability and Contemplative Practice" co-created this volume of theory and practice. Congratulations to all!

What We're Reading

Nature's Depthsa lovely and informative new blog written by Johnny Palka, retired biology/neuroscience professor, who "loves plants and ponders big questions."  

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