Regenerating Our Place: Fostering a Sense of Place Through Rehabilitation and Place-Based Education

  • W. SedawiEmail author
  • O. Ben Zvi Assaraf
  • M. J. Reiss


This study examines the effects of a place-based intervention program on the sense of place of Bedouin elementary school students. These students live on the banks of the polluted Hebron Stream in Israel, where a three-pronged restoration program has recently been established, including the stream’s rehabilitation, the establishment of local waste treatment, and an environmental education program. Our study follows groups of fifth-graders (n = 107) throughout a 2-year, place-based learning program in the Hebron Stream area. The program’s purpose is to teach students about authentic environmental phenomena in the stream’s surroundings, while fostering their sense of attachment to the stream. Data were gathered, before, during, and after the intervention, via drawings and individual interviews, and analyzed using quantitative and qualitative content analysis. The findings show that after the intervention, Hebron Stream became part of the students’ sense of place, with many students drawing a cleaner, more esthetically pleasing stream, and about a third drawing the stream as a “healthy” ecosystem. The students’ explanations of their drawings showed a rise in their awareness of the stream’s importance as a natural resource, and an increased awareness of the relationship between the stream, the community, and political-economic situation. Though they were openly critical of flaws in the current progress of the restoration process, they also expressed optimism regarding the improvement in the stream’s conditions that contrasted sharply with their earlier fatalistic attitudes. This change in attitude was also expressed in declared changes in the students’ personal environmental behaviors. The results of this study provide a comprehensive understanding of the relationship between people and their immediate environment. It offers both pedagogical and theoretical recommendations for studies of sense of place and place-based education initiatives undertaken in contaminated natural environments.


Place-based education Polluted environment Sense of place Rehabilitation Elementary school 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Science and Technology EducationBen-Gurion University of the NegevBeer-ShevaIsrael
  2. 2.Institute of EducationUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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