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Teacher Education

Greg Smith


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Rogers Hall

I’m a native Oregonian strongly hooked to the Pacific Northwest. As an undergraduate, I attended Oberlin College and the University of Oregon. After working in a variety of different jobs, I decided to become an English teacher in my mid-twenties. After completing an M.A. at Southern Oregon State College in Ashland, I taught high school for nine years, initially at Ashland High School and then at a small Friends boarding school in Northern California and a school for struggling students in Honolulu. Convinced of the value of situating education in strong communities, I returned to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where I tried to figure out ways to extend what I had learned while teaching in small private high schools to the public education system. There, I had the chance to work as an educational researcher for five years. I got my first teaching job in higher education at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, where I helped coordinate the Teachers for Alaska Program. When a job opening at Lewis & Clark in the early 1990s presented me with the opportunity to return to Oregon, I applied and I have been here ever since.


Greg Smith, professor of teacher education at Lewis & Clark, received a $19,380 grant from the Oregon Community Foundation to train teachers on environmental issues. The grant aims to increase the number of teachers implementing sustainability projects in schools, and increase student and educator awareness of local natural systems, ecologies, and social needs. 

Personal Statement

“Children, marginalized by a global economy and educated by schools and the media to become rootless members of a commercial monoculture, will be ill-prepared to construct institutions capable of equitably providing for human needs in ways that do not compromise the long-term health of natural systems. The creation of an ecologically sustainable society will require people who share a deep commitment to the social and natural milieus in which they live as well as a knowledge base that is sensitive to the dynamics and needs of these environments.”

—“Rooting Children in Place,” Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice, 1998

Areas of Expertise

Literacy & Learning, Sustainability, Environmental/Ecological Education, Place-Based Education, Alternative & Small Schools, Environmental/Ecological Education

Current Research

My current writing and research revolves around the practice of place-and community-based education. This approach to education focuses on using local knowledge, phenomena, and experience as the foundation for teaching and learning. Its aim is to connect children and youth more firmly to their own communities and region and to prepare them to participate in the shaping of a more just and sustainable society.

In addition to teaching four to five courses each year, I coordinate the Graduate School’s Core Program.  For a number of years, I helped facilitate Lewis & Clark’s Courage to Teach Program, a national project aimed at supporting the renewal of experienced teachers. I will be resuming my work with this program in the fall of 2011.  Beyond the campus, I serve on the board of the Rural School and Community Trust, a national organization that has been an active sponsor of place-and community-based educational reforms throughout the United States.  I am also a fellow of the National Educational Policy Center based at the University of Colorado-Boulder. In the Portland area, I was a founding member of the Environmental Middle School and served on its site council for several years.  More recently, I have taught a course, Educating for Sustainability, to educators in the West Linn/Wilsonville School District thanks to a grant from the Gray Family Fund.


Recent and Forthcoming Publications
  • Smith, Gregory.  (2010).  Place- and Community-based Education in Schools (co-written with David Sobel).  New York and London: Routledge.
  • Smith, Gregory.  (2008).  Place-based Education in the Global Age: Local Diversity  (co-edited with David Gruenewald).  London and New York: Taylor & Francis.
  • Smith, Gregory.  (2010).  “Bring It On Home” (co-written with David Sobel),Educational Leadership68: 1 (September), pp, 38-43.
  •   Smith, Gregory.  (2010).  “Teaching about Sustainability,” Teacher Education Quarterly, 37: 4 (Fall), pp. 47-54.
  • Smith, Gregory.  (2010).  “Sustainability and Schools: Educating for Interconnection, Adaptability, and Resilience,” Journal of Sustainability Education, 1:1 (May). 
  • Smith, Gregory.  (forthcoming).  “Bringing the Experience of Indigenous Peoples into Schools,” in George Dei (editor), International Handbook on Indigenous Philosophies and Critical Education.  New York: Peter Lang.
  • Smith, Gregory.  (forthcoming).  “Just Sustainability Education and Place at the Al Kennedy High School,” Children, Youth, and Environments. 
Earlier Books
  • Smith, Gregory.  (1999).  Ecological Education in Action: On Weaving Culture, Education, and the Environment  (editor and contributor with Dilafruz R. Williams).  Albany, New York: SUNY. 
  • Smith, Gregory. (1993). Public Schools That Work: Creating Community (editor). New York: Routledge.
  • Smith, Gregory. (1992). Education and the Environment: Learning to Live with Limits. Albany, New York: SUNY Press.

Academic Credentials

Ph.D. 1989 University of Wisconsin at Madison, M.A. 1976 Southern Oregon University, B.A. 1970 University of Oregon

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