Connecting with place: implications of integrating cultural values into the school curriculum in Alaska

Takako Takano*, Peter Higgins, Pat McLaughlin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Many authors primarily from industrialised nations discuss human relationships with the natural environment in the context of global environmental issues, and highlight the close relationships that ‘traditional’ societies have with nature. There is a growing trend among indigenous people in North America to restore such a connection with the land through place-based education. This article reports on progress on such a programme at Russian Mission School in rural Alaska in the period 2002–2007 and its implications for sustainability. The programme actively seeks to integrate the community’s cultural values and activities into their curriculum. This has resulted in raising pupils’ academic skills and confidence, and seems to be bridging a gap of distrust between the school and community. An ethnographical approach was adopted with a mixed research design based primarily on participant observation, supported by semi-structured interviews, written surveys, and conversations with stakeholders, student writings and secondary sources. The initial fieldwork in 2002 was followed up five years later.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-370
Number of pages28
JournalEnvironmental Education Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Jun
Externally publishedYes


  • community
  • culture
  • education
  • identity
  • place

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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