As informed professionals, outdoor educators are critical thinkers who can support positive
change in individuals, organizations, and society. Outdoor educators understand ecological
and human systems and can help address some of the challenges facing society today,
including health issues, environmental issues, social justice issues, and sustainability issues.
Our goal is to equip students with the skills they need to positively impact outdoor
education and related fields.
Students who select Outdoor Education Leadership will be engaged with a dynamic
curriculum emphasizing applied pedagogical concepts, interpersonal communication skills,
specialized technical skills, program design and administration, and/or focus on specific
populations, processes, and/or environments. Many students explore in-depth the roots
and practices of experiential and outdoor education and examine its many applications in
private and public settings.
Coursework includes exploring the philosophical foundations of experiential/outdoor
adventure education, with particular attention to leadership, wilderness travel, safety and
risk management, social and environmental justice, environmental education, program
leadership and administration, ethics and moral practice, research and evaluation, and
issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Students also take elective coursework in an area
of their choosing including counseling theories, group facilitation, human growth and
development, adventure therapy, ecopsychology, and ecotherapy to more ably bring these
perspectives and approaches into their work with diverse populations set in various
educational and/or therapeutic contexts.
Students entering the Outdoor Education Leadership program usually have prior
experience in the area related to their proposed concentration of study. For example, many
students have spent several years wilderness backpacking, mountaineering, technical rock
climbing, kayaking, canoeing, ropes course facilitation, or sailing, etc., while others have
been teaching in the public schools, independent schools, wilderness therapy programs,
community facilities, international programs, etc. From whichever direction students come,
those who are interested in expanding their knowledge with studies in outdoor education
will find a dynamic arena. Experience working in the field and competency in interpersonal
communication and group facilitation are recommended. Students are expected to
continue their skills development and expand their experience base while engaged in OEL.