Redefining the Classroom

Do you feel as if you belong here? Students talk about a sense of place

Posted: April 4th, 2014

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Students at Lake Superior State University who have been studying the people, experiences, landscapes and culture that make up a sense of place in a community will present the results of their semester-long studies during two presentations this week.

The students are part of LSSU Biology Prof. Greg Zimmerman’s special topics class “Sense of Place.” They will present a symposium on what their class discovered from 5-8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 9, in the Walker Cisler Center Crow’s Nest. Participants are invited to stop in throughout the time period. Admission is free.

To complement the presentation, the Upper Peninsula Chapter of the Society of Conservation Biology is sponsoring “The Lexicon of Sustainability” in the Kenneth Shouldice Library art gallery through April 12. The display is a multiplatform project based on the premise that people can’t be expected to live more sustainable lives if they don’t know the basic terms and principles that define sustainability. Admission is free to the display, also.

Members of the community are invited to come celebrate our “place” of LSSU and the greater Sault Ste. Marie area at the symposium. Students in Zimmerman’s class noted that a sense of place involves a person’s experience in a landscape and the local culture. People find themselves part of a place by identifying themselves with a particular piece of land or a community.

International Bridge viewed from north side of LSSU campus

The class symposium on April 9 will explore how a sense of place promotes stewardship and economic development, and it will feature students’ interactive displays. Topics will include interviews with place-making leaders in our area, the role of festivals, arts, and food in helping to engender a sense of place, and reflections from students about places that are special to them.

The display in the Shouldice Library was assembled by filmmaker/photographer Douglas Gayeton and producer Laura Howard-Gayeton, who have crisscrossed the United States to learn the language of sustainability from its practitioners. Their unusual “crowd-sourcing” approach allows the public to suggest ideas and even host shows of the work. Their methods have helped transform their grassroots project into an international organization with volunteers across the globe.

For more information about the symposium on April 9, contact Zimmerman at 906-635-2470 or, or Prof. Jillena Rose,, or 635-2091. For more information on The Lexicon of Sustainability display, visit -LSSU-

CONTACT: Tom Pink, 906-635-2315,; John Shibley, 635-2314,; Prof. Greg Zimmerman, 635-2470,; Prof. Jillena Rose, 635-2091,