APU announced three new degrees in May 2021, including a bachelor’s in Community and Place-Based Education. The program combines courses from across the university to prepare Alaska’s next educators.
“I feel we’ve taken the best of everything that we do at APU, particularly in developing educators, and put it in this program,” said Paul Twardock, Outdoor Studies professor and coordinator of the new degree.
Community and Place-Based Education (CPBE) is a philosophy of teaching that recognizes the value of learning outside the classroom. The teaching style prioritizes connection and attachment to a place, specifically its culture, history, and ecology.
APU’s degree program trains teachers, but offers flexibility for graduates to work in a range of educational settings like state and national parks, private schools, nature centers, museums, zoos, and more. The program draws its curriculum from multiple existing departments. Even though it’s a new degree, current students may already have taken several required courses.
CPBE majors study core liberal arts courses. In addition, required classes cover Indigenous science, risk management, Alaska Native history, and outdoor education. Electives include Indigenous language classes (Tlingit, Yup’ik, Iñupiaq) and outdoor courses (search and rescue, winter wilderness skills). A new expedition class will bring students to communities and schools across the state.
CPBE students graduate with options. If they want a traditional education career, the program aligns with APU’s existing teaching certificate in K-8 education. Students just stay an extra semester at APU to gain their licensure while student-teaching. If CPBE majors choose not to get their teaching certificate, they still have a four-year degree that can land them jobs with nonprofits, recreation companies, state agencies, federal land managers, and private schools.
The CPBE degree is the only accredited undergraduate program of its type in Anchorage. It’s also arguably the most unique in the state, combining outdoor skills and Indigenous knowledge with standard courses in literacy, curriculum design, and educational foundations.
“There’s really nothing else like it in the state of Alaska,” Twardock said.
Want to learn more? Check out the degree roadmap and career outcomes on APU’s website.
CPBE faculty will host a virtual information session Dec. 6, 2021 at 4 p.m. AKST. Click here to RSVP.