Third Culture Kids and Experiences of Places

  • Oliver Picton
  • Sarah Urquhart
Living reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


This chapter explores the dynamics of place as experienced by third culture kids (TCKs) who spend their developmental years in multiple and diverse physical and social contexts. Traditional conceptualizations and assumptions about a singular localized sense of place are not congruent with the changeability of TCK experiences, and so the concept of sense of place is reexamined with TCKs as the focus. Readers are introduced to two research-based case studies on TCKs and their relationships with place. A study from Hong Kong identifies potential differences between TCK and local Hong Kong adolescents in terms of their relationships to nature and place attachment and considers how relocation has influenced TCK sense of place (Urquhart, An exploration into the environmental identities and sense of place of internationally mobile adolescents. Unpublished master’s thesis. Retrieved from, 2016). A second case study of TCK adolescents in Qatar explores how the “gatedness” of residential contexts can strongly impact TCK experiences of place and sense of place (Picton, International school students’ experiences of their local environment: a case study from Qatar. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Bath, 2016). For TCKs, mobility has the potential to both expand and simultaneously limit engagement and identification with place and nonhuman nature. This chapter calls for the recognition that for TCKs, immediate contexts are intrinsically linked to a diversity of places in their past, present, and future. Key aspects of place-based education (PBE) and the potential pedagogical challenges and opportunities are considered within the contexts of international schools. PBE is highlighted as a way to promote relational conceptualizations of place to drive an inclusive and globally minded sense of place for TCKs.


Third culture kids Sense of place Place attachment Nature bonding Place-based education (PBE) International schools 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.American International School of JohannesburgMidrandSouth Africa
  2. 2.Secondary SchoolYokohama International SchoolYokohamaJapan

Section editors and affiliations

  • Bob Stevenson
    • 1
  • Gregory Mannion
    • 2
  • Snowy Evans
    • 3
  1. 1.The Cairns Institute and College of Arts, Society and EducationJames Cook UniversityCairnsAustralia
  2. 2.School of EducationUniversity of StirlingStirlingUK
  3. 3.College of Arts, Society & EducationJames Cook UniversityCairnsAustralia

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