mark kissling head shot

I am an associate professor of education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Penn State University, where I teach and advise students in the Language, Culture & Society (LCS) and Social Studies Education (SSED) graduate programs and in the Middle Level (Grades 4-8) Teacher Education program, for which I am the leader of the ML Social Studies option. A former social studies teacher in Framingham, Massachusetts, I received my doctoral degree in Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education from Michigan State University.  My bachelor’s degree, in History and Education, is from Dartmouth College.

I’m a place-based educator. I study and teach about the ways in which place (as a concept) and places (as specific lived relationships) matter in the lives, learning, and teaching of students and teachers. Collaborating with colleagues and communicating with audiences in schools and beyond, I view my scholarship as comprised of citizenship acts that cultivate just and sustainable communities in the many places that I and others inhabit.

I implicate several important terms in relation to place and education, notably: lived experience, story, citizenship, patriotism, and sustainability. I focus on how people, particularly those in schools, make sense of their lived experiences in and across the many places of their lives, and I believe the best way to access this meaning is through story. Thus, the methodology that undergirds the bulk of my research is narrative inquiry. In thinking about places as particular relationships, I focus on people and other living beings as citizens of their lived communities. I am concerned with how justice-oriented citizenship can address sustainability issues in all communities, and particularly in what Aldo Leopold calls “the land community.”

My scholarship theorizes and exemplifies the significance of place primarily in and across the educational fields of curriculum, social studies, and teacher education. The central questions that I ask, respectively, are: What is the place of place(s) in curriculum? What does it mean to be an ecological citizen, and what does it mean to be an American? Where, when, and how do teachers learn to teach? These questions, intermingled, largely structure my teaching and research projects.