Place-Based Education

Engaging students in their own communities through local history, local culture and the local environment. An initiative of the Massachusetts Studies Project at UMass Boston.

June 24, 2008
by Joanne Riley

A “MySpace” for Local Studies in Massachusetts


Announcing the launch of a new social networking site for “humanities practitioners” in Massachusetts, built on the Ning platform.

The National Endowment for the Humanities has funded this experiment, with additional support from the Joseph P. Healey Library at UMass Boston, and Mass. Humanities.

Check out the MAStudies Network at and join up if this collegial group of Commonwealth collaborators suits you!

January 11, 2007
by Joanne Riley

New England Cultural Database

The New England Cultural Database (NECD):

  • Is an online data warehouse containing financial, demographic, geographic, and other related information about businesses, cultural organizations and individual artists in New England
  • Provides the New England state arts agencies, researchers, cultural organizations, funders, artists, policy makers, and general public with a wealth of research information to support analysis, advocacy, and policy development
  • Is geographically coded to allow searches by location and support a variety of analyses based on geographic area
  • Has a system of tiered admittance providing varying levels of access to the information contained in the database
  • Will add for-profit creative industry businesses to the present listings of nonprofit cultural organizations and individual artists to encompass the entire Creative Economy of New England
  • Currently houses over 19,000 records.

Link: New England Cultural Database.

November 9, 2006
by Joanne Riley

Teachers, Housing and the Impact on Community

[…I]n far too many cities across the country, where the connection between teacher and families is already too tenuous, the relationship is becoming more so–all because teachers cannot afford to live in the places where they teach. Particularly in larger cities and suburban areas, teachers are forced by poor salaries to live in areas far from their schools, meaning a punishing commute both ways. Since teachers are not seen outside of the school setting, there is no common understanding or common viewpoint between parents and teachers. Parents don’t respect the teacher because they feel the teacher doesn’t understand their kids or their situation. Teachers can’t understand their students because they live so far away, outside of the teacher’s living environment, and away from interactions withing the community. So the only time parents and teachers see each other is in the framework of the school. Such an arrangement does not make either the parents or hte teachers feel as though they are part of a community with a role in the education or rearing of kids. They feel more like merchants or service providers, operating at arm’s length, with a tenously connected goal.

Link: Going to the Mat: Teachers, Housing and the Impact on Community.

September 25, 2006
by Joanne Riley

The Family Narrative Project

"When children have a rich and deep understanding of their family history, they are more resilient. The message would be that parents have to take time in the midst of everything else going on and the pressure of their lives, to share their family histories. Not only is it fun in the moment, but it has potential consequences for their children’s resilience and well-being."

This intriquing quote is from an article in yesterday’s Boston Globe referring to findings of The Family Narrative Project at Emory University, led by Robyn Fivush and Marshall Duke.

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