Moving Beyond the Talkfest: Advocating for Equity and Diversity in Outdoor Learning

Tom Potter1, Hoya Lynne Thomas4, Son Truong2, Teresa Socha1, Glyn Thomas3, Tonia Gray4
1Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, Canada; 2Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada; 3University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Australia; 4Western Sydney University, Penrith, Australia

 

Abstract:
Outdoor educators generally pride themselves on challenge. This workshop unlocks a unique opportunity for us to challenge ourselves to move beyond talkfests, and together, develop individual and collective steps to advance equity and diversity in outdoor learning. While important research and initiatives in equity and diversity have informed the field, we have reached a point where unified action is essential. Based on this premise, we need to step outside our comfort zones and work together for real and lasting change in the outdoor profession. But, to accomplish this we need you.
Bringing together outdoor professionals with diverse perspectives, experiences and practices, we seek to facilitate an action-oriented process by creating a space for all voices to be heard. We aim to ask the profession to turn the microscope on itself and engage in a process of self-reflective practice to help effect change for equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in outdoor education and learning. More importantly, we invite participants to share experiences, questions, and difficulties or successes – no matter how new or experienced you may be to discussions of EDI in outdoor learning – to join this conversation towards action. We seek to unpack the Aussie “Fair–go” aspiration and ask: Is it reality or mythology? Can it help us to find real transformative change?
While the workshop presenters have varied professional journeys and diverse viewpoints, we recognize that positive change is about mobilizing knowledge and being allies. By sharing our pivotal encounters we will explore our ongoing awakening to equity and diversity issues. Finally, through our collaborative efforts we will examine some successful strategies underway to advance our profession to a renewed level of reflection and action for equity and diversity. Redressing inequities and working together as a cohesive group will activate organisational and cultural change in the outdoor sector.


Biography:
Tom teaches in the School of Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism at Lakehead University where he shares much time in the field with students. His teaching and research interests blend to include the pedagogy of outdoor education, outdoor leadership, risk management, social justice, transportation safety and nature-based therapy.
Lynne is a proud Aboriginal woman from Wallaga Lake Yuin (Black Duck, Umbarra), Taree Biripi (White Pointer Shark) as well as Nagarigo Monaro Highlands (Maneroo, Black Cockatoo). Braidwood. Lynne’s rich culture from all grandparents and ancestries include South American (The Andes, South America), Chinese and French (Braidwood area), Irish and Full blood Aboriginal trackers of the highlands.
Son teaches in the Community Wellbeing and Therapeutic Recreation at Dalhousie University. He has extensive experience working with young people in educational settings, therapeutic programming, and outdoor learning. His interdisciplinary research focuses on children’s play and environments, and recreation to enhance wellbeing in vulnerable communities.
Teresa is recently retired from the Faculty of Education at Lakehead University where she served as the Undergraduate Chair for seven years. Informed by feminist and sociocultural theories and anti-oppression education, Teresa’s research and teaching interests include health and physical education teacher education, fat studies, gender issues, and initial teacher education.
Glyn teaches in the Bachelor of Recreation and Outdoor Environmental Studies program at the University of the Sunshine Coast. His research interests focus on teaching and learning in outdoor environmental education. In the outdoors, he enjoys seeing and learning more about birds.
Tonia’s transdisciplinary research explores human-nature relationships and its impact on health and wellbeing. She is co-editor-in-chief of JOEE, and chair of the Australian Tertiary Outdoor Education Network. In 2019, Tonia journeyed to Antarctica with the Homeward Bound Project to elevate Women and Climate Action and was also the Association of Experiential Education’s Distinguished Researcher of the Year.

About OEA and Outdoors NSW

Outdoor Education Australia (OEA)  was established in 2006 as a national network of outdoor education associations. The organisation facilitates communication between state and territory outdoor education associations about the practice and delivery of outdoor education; advocates for outdoor education across primary, secondary and tertiary education; and provides policy advice.

Outdoors NSW is the go-to place for all things outdoors in NSW.

The peak body for the outdoors in NSW, the organisation, (formerly known as ORIC), represents the outdoor community, advances outdoor standards, safety and practices, and fosters greater participation in the outdoors.

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