International Conference "Cultural Perspectives on Nature as an Educational Space"

Wir freuen uns, Sie hiermit auf die maßgeblich von Studierenden des Master Abenteuer- Erlebnispädagogik organisierte Konferenz "Cultural Perspectives on Nature as an Educational Space" am 5./6. Dezember 2019 aufmerksam zu machen.
Im Rahmen der Konferenz werden sich Expert*innen aus sieben verschiedenen Ländern in den Räumlichkeiten des Instituts für Sportwissenschaft und Motologie (Barfüßer Str. 1, 35032 Marburg) dem Thema widmen. Im Folgenden können Sie sich über die Vortragsthemen sowie die Referent*innen informieren. Darüber hinaus können Sie hier ein detailliertes Tagungsprogramm einsehen. Fühlen Sie sich eingeladen, teilzunehmen!

Thursday, 5th December 2019

  •  Dr. Chris Loynes : Is outdoor education a movement?

    About Dr. Chris Loynes

    Dr. Chris Loynes is Reader in Oudoor Studies in the Institute for Science, Natural Resources and Outdoor Studies of the University of Cumbria. He researches for the Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas on the them of Human Nature Relations specialising in Outdoor Learning, Youth Transition and Environmental Citizenship.


    The outdoors, and, by extension, outdoor education, can be understood as on the edge of society, a wild space to escape to and, also, a liminal space of new possibilities psychologically and socially. In this space it is possible for personal identities and social norms to be explored ahead of and out of sight of mainstream society’s progress. Some outdoor education organisations have been identified as ‘movements’ as a result of this socially innovative role, the German Wandervogel ‘Movement’, the Scout ‘Movement’ and the Outward Bound ‘Movement’ are examples. However, others would argue that Outdoor Education is also adept at adopting and reproducing the established norms of society. Based on archival material, this contribution will examine to what degree some Outdoor Education organisations deserve to be described as ‘movements’, what role this might play in society and whether it justifies or explains the place of Outdoor Education as always partly on the edge of and partially hidden from society. I will argue that the critical and radical pedagogy, supported by the constructions of certain landscapes may play a significant transformative role in some cultures and speculate on what this role might be in the current changing times.

    Loynes, Chris (2007): Social reform, militarism and other historical influences on the practice of outdoor education in youth work.

  • Prof. PhDr. Ivo Jirásek : "Come with me where the sky is high and blue...:" Jaroslav Foglar and his influence on Czech outdoor, adventure and experiential education

    About Prof. PhDr. Ivo Jirásek, Ph.D.

    Prof. PhDr. Ivo Jirásek, Ph.D. is a professor and a guarantor of the recreation and leisure studies and have been vice-dean for research (2010-2016) at Faculty of Physical Culture, Palacký University Olomouc, the Czech Republic. He specializes in the field of experiential and outdoor education, philosophical kinanthropology (philosophy of sport) and the phenomenon of spirituality and spiritual health. The author of four books and decades of journal articles and book chapters (in both English and Czech languages), the member of pedagogical and kinanthropological associations, used to serve as editor-in-chief of Gymnasion, journal for experiential education and longtime an instructor and lector in the Vacation school of Lipnice - Outward Bound Czech Republic.


    The natural environment is not only a stage set or a scenery for the educational processes. Nature and naturalness may cause an emotional shock and may represent an initiation ceremony as part of personal development. Nature is the most powerful teacher. It leads us from the virtual world of computers back to the reality our lives.

    The development of the specific Czech way of staying in nature and outdoor education dates back to the second half of 19th century, when a movement of tourists and “Sokol” (Falcon) started organizing trips and exercises in nature. Since the 20th century there have been various traditions such as scouting, woodcraft, and tramping. One from them is the phenomenon of Jaroslav Foglar, the Czech writer, scout, editor, and educator, who strongly influenced the Czech understanding of outdoor, adventure, and experiential education. The development of camping schools, experimental events (Gymnasion), or Vacation school of Lipnice – Outward Bound Czech Republic, would not be possible without these sources and ideas.

    The paper shows this development with a specific focus on Jaroslav Foglar’s writing about nature and camping including extraordinarily sensitive descriptions of nature, landscape, and atmosphere. In his work, the aesthetic interest and educational potential of countryside are closely interconnected. 

  • Dr. Funda Akcan: Outdoor Education in Turkey

    About Dr. Funda Akcan

    Assistant Professor at the Department of Sport Sciences, Baskent University, Ankara, Turkey.
    Most Relevant Publications:
    Akcan, F. (2011). Mountaineering Subculture: Symbols, Meanings, Identities. PhD Thesis. School of Sport Sciences and Technology, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey.
    Akcan, F., Bulgu, N. (2013). The development of mountaineering in RepublicanTurkey in (eds. Katrin Bromber, Birgit Krawietz, Joseph Maguire), Sport Across Asia: Politics, Cultures, Identities, NYC: Routledge, 167-188.
    Akcan, F., Pike, E. (2016). A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Women Climbers in Turkey and the United Kingdom: New Heights for Women's Sport?, 2016 ISSA World Congress of Sociology of Sport. June 8-12, 2016, Budapest, Hungary. (Oral presentation)
    Akcan, F., Pike, E. (2017). “If She Can Do It I Can Do It”: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Contradictory Gendered Practices in Climbing. ISSA World Congress of Sociology of Sport, Taipei City, Taiwan. (Oral presentation)


    After the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923, Turkey entered a rapid modernization process. Turkish modernization was identified with westernization and the aims of the modernity project were the rationalization, bureaucratization and secularization of the country. In order to realize these aims many political, social and cultural reforms were carried out during the Early Republican Period.

    Educational reforms in this period were realized mainly with the influence of John Dewey’s philosophy of education. Accordingly ‘doing and experiencing’ was adopted as a learning method and brought to attention the idea of constructivism. Following Dewey’s recommendations on Turkish educational system, Village Institutes were established in 1940 as teacher training institutions. Village Institutes, with their unique curriculum and teaching system, could be regarded as the first schools which applied outdoor education practices in Turkey. Until their closure in 1954, skills necessary to work in the fields of teaching, medicine, agriculture, and technology were taught in these institutes and graduates were expected to become integral members of the village communities they would be serving.

    In Turkey, education has traditionally been a State issue with the national education policy controlled by the central government. All formal educational institutions are directed, controlled and supervised by The Ministry of National Education (MoNE). Higher education is under the control of the Higher Educational Council (YOK). Therefore, frequent changes in the education policies for the ideological purposes causes instability in education. Currently, Turkish education system consists of two main parts as formal education and non-formal education. Formal education is given in schools and includes Pre-Primary education, Primary education, Secondary education and Higher education. Primary and secondary education is twelve years presented in the 4+4+4 format and compulsory for all citizens since 2012. The transitions to secondary education and higher education are possible with standardized and centralized examinations. Non-formal education activities include public education, apprenticeship training and distance learning activities that meet the needs of individuals who have never entered the formal education system or are at any level of it or have left at that level.

    In this current education system outdoor education is carried out in two different ways. First one is under the formal education system which has not been very common in Turkey but it is considered complementary of the formal education. In specific, outdoor education is limited to certain social activities and field trips in formal ecology-based science educations, social science educations and science camps especially at the primary level. Even it is stated in the latest formal curriculum determined by the MoNE that ‘informal learning environments such as school garden, science centers, museums, historical places, planetarium, zoos, botanic gardens, exhibitions, marketplaces, natural environments etc. should also be used in the courses and associated with the content of course’, there is still lack of outdoor education practices. There are several reasons for this in the Turkish context and these reasons determined by scientific researches since the early 2000s. In these researches outdoor education is most frequently used as a synonym for out-of-school learning, or for extracurricular activities that occur in outdoor environments. These researches mainly aimed to determine teachers' perspectives on outdoor education and to find out the barriers that the teachers face in the implementation of outdoor education. In these studies it was found that barriers on employing outdoor education activities are crowded classes, difficulties in getting official permissions, excessive teacher workload, rigid school administrations, lack of necessary information about outdoor education, lack of experience on outdoor education, concerns about meeting curricular deadlines, time limitations and lack of school-family cooperation due to parents’ negative attitudes towards outdoor education. There are also researches focusing on students’ attitudes and experiences in outdoor education programs and their significant contributions on the students’ development and learning. School environment has also been under the scope of some researches. It was determined in these studies that education has been projected indoors due to the insufficient physical arrangements and green areas of schools especially in big cities and mostly as a result of unplanned urbanization.

    Second way of outdoor education applications have been raised under the scope of ‘alternative education’ in an organized manner since the beginning of 2010s. This way of outdoor education has become widespread recently at Pre-primary level under different school forms such as Forest Schools, Montessori Schools, Waldorf Schools and etc. However in the current education system explained above, these alternative education applications cause some problems for students especially when they have to enter in the following formal education system.

    In summary, even we could see the outdoor education applications in the early years of the Republic, it has lost its significance and has started to be seen as a complementary of the formal education. However, it has recently started to be the part of education system through the alternative school projects which are carried out by private enterprises and also pedagogues and academicians who are aware of the importance of outdoor education in child development and learning.

  • Natalia Ruiz de Cortázar Gracia : Exploring new paths: Introducing adventure therapy in Spain

    About Natalia Ruiz de Cortázar

    Psychologist and Family Psychotherapist. Adventure Therapist.
    Masteries in Mental Health Counseling and Family Therapy Intervention.
    Former Wilderness Therapist and field guide in Wilderness Therapy programs in USA.
    Experience in international Adventure Therapy programs in Europe (Iceland, Belgium, Scotland, etc.)
    Adventure Therapy trainer and program developer.
    Psychologist, technical coordinator and co-founder of Asociación Experientia, a non-profit organization that is introducing Adventure and Wilderness Therapy in Spain.
    Extensive experience in non-formal education with youth and youth at risk.
    Passionate about nature, people, and the connection of both.


    Adventure therapy is the prescriptive use of adventure experiences provided by mental health professionals, often conducted in natural settings that kinesthetically engage clients on cognitive, affective and behavioral levels (Gass, Gillis Russell, 2012).Asthe definition states, “often conducted in natural settings”or scenarios that recreate their characteristics(e.g. indoor climbing gym), nature is a key elements in the development of adventure therapy and it is a differentiatingelement. Despite the fact that Adventure Therapy is a field with more than 50 years of research and development in other countries (such as USA, Australia, Canada, Germany, and other European countries) in Spain was and it is still widely unknown among professionals and potential users.To understand the development of the field of adventure therapy in Spain, we can take a look at the two main elements: the content (the therapeutic process) and the container (the natural context)and how both elements interrelate. Thus, it is important to take a look and the history and background of the use of nature for diverse purposes, ranging from recreational, educational and therapeutic. Exploring the dimensions of adventure therapy programming helps professionals to understand the underpinning elements of the intervention and find a suitable design to develop programs in natural context following the Spanish policies and regulations.As a pioneers in this field, the main work is to adapt the wide-spread and developed methodology to the Spanish socio cultural contextbut also, to introduce a newsociological understanding of nature, as a healing context that can be usedas a therapeutic toolandthat is validated by scientific research. Therefore, nature is not only a playground or a place for personal development, it can be introduced in the medical context,and can be prescribed as such. It is important to take into consideration the environmental elements, the policies related to the landscape and the sociological perspectiveof nature in the Spanish society. 51,4% of Spain is covered by mountains or forest land, (Spanish Forestry Strategy, 2010). Surrounded by sea, mountain ranges (with the highest elevation being above 3.400m), deserts, rivers and lakes. The geography of the country provides different landscapeswhich allows variety and adaptability. However, it is infrequent to find wild or uninhabited areas, and campfires and free camping are prohibited in most of the regions (Rose, 2012). Developing and adapting the methodology of adventuretherapy in Spain must go hand inhand with understanding and creating a new culture of how to use nature and the perceptions that the population has of it. It is key to useand test differenttheoretical paradigms (e.g.“mountains speaksfor themselves”) in order to introduce progressivelya change in the perception and use of nature asteacher,healer and change catalyst.

  • Prof. Dr. Ewa Grzęda, Maria Kościelniak : The humanistic and cultural aspects of Polish nature education. Then and Now.

    About Prof. Dr. Ewa Grzęda 

    Ewa Grzęda is Associate Professor at the Department of History of Romantic Literature, Institute of Polish Philology at the University of Wrocław. She chairs the Humanistic Mountain Studies Centure www.gory-pbhpg.eu .  The  author of over 80 articles and texts devoted to literature and culture, she also published two monographs.   Ewa Grzęda is the Editor in Chief of the „Góry-Literatura-Kultura” (Mountains-Literature-Culture) yearbook. Moreover, she chairs the organizing committee of an annual interdisciplinary conference on mountain matters. She is a member of „Wierchy” (Mountaintops) yearbook advisory board   as well as sitting on the advisory board  of Z. and W. Paryski Foundation. Her research focuses on the nineteenth-century lliterature and culture. She is particularly interested in Polish Romantic literature, relationships between human and nature as well as humanistic anthropo-thanatology. Professor Grzęda is also concerned with the problems of regionalism. 

    About Maria Kościelniak

    Maria Kościelniak is a PhD student at the Institute of Polish Philology, University of Wrocław. She is working on a thesis concerning Gorce Mountains in Polish literature. She is a member of Humanistic Mountain Studies Centre chaired by prof. Ewa Grzęda. Miss Kościelniak’s interests revolve around spatial studies, especially mountain studies. Her research methodology is based on spatial turn and geopoetics. In her works she shows connections between regional movements and perception of mountain space throughout history.
    Miss Kościelniak’s bachelor thesis, „Władysław Orkan’s W roztokach in the light of theory of geopoetics”, shed new light on Gorce Mountains space and considered ecological aspects of analysed novel.


    The aim of the paper is to show the cultural factors that have shaped nature education in Poland. First, we are going to focus on various post-Enlightenment strategies of shaping attitudes toward nature through understanding its mechanisms and values as these are those strategies that laid foundations for the social proecological awareness that began to emerge in Poland already in the nineteenth century. In order to fully understand that process, however, one has to take into account the fact that, due to the then difficult situation of Polish general education, resulting from the fact that the country had been partitioned, the function of nature education was assumed by literature and aesthetics. It is due to their influence that the emotionally charged term ‘Polish nature’ (przyroda polska) was introduced into the Polish discourse on nature. Some notable manifestations of this phenomenon include Eliza Orzeszkowa’s essay “Oblicze matki” (The Face of the Mother) (1899) and Maria Rodziewiczówna’s popular novel Lato leśnych ludzi  (The Summer of Sylvan People) (1920). Based on this conception, Jan Gwalbert Pawlikowski formulated, in his 1913 treatise Kultura a natura (Culture and Nature), the idea of nature conservation that emphasized its cultural foundations. While this conception was proposed by Pawlikowski before Poland regained independence in 1918, it later formed the basis of the institutional movement of nature conservation in independent Poland, which culminated in the creation, in 1932, of Pieniny National Park and the National Park in Białowieża. After WWII the cultural foundations of nature conservation became the subject of scholarly attention. Of great importance here was the work of Jacek Kolbuszewski, a scholar based at the University of Wrocław and the author of the foundational monograph Ochrona przyrody a kultura (Nature Conservation and Culture) as well as a collection of essays titled Znaczenia i wartości przyrody polskiej (The Meanings and Values of Polish Nature). He also edited an anthology aimed at school students titled Literatura a przyroda: antologia ekologiczna (Literature and Nature: An Ecological Anthology). Among the most interesting of the interdisciplinary projects realized at Polish research institutions is a conference series Las w kulturze polskiej (The Forest in Polish Culture) organized by Wojciech Łysiak, one of whose outcomes is a multivolume series devoted to the role of the forest in culture formation. Among other publications worth mentioning here is the journal Góry-Literatura-Kultura (Mountains-Literature-Culture)  established in 1995 at the University of Wrocław. The university also hosts The Research Group for the Humanistic Mountain Studies, established in 2017.

    The last part of the presentation will be devoted to the most recent developments in humanistic nature education in Poland. Since most of these are related to the so-called posthumanist or anti-anthropocentric turn that has been growing in prominence in the recent years, that part of the presentation will focus on various manifestation of this turn in Poland, in particular on ecocriticism and animal studies.

Friday, 6th December 2019

  • Stephen Hannon : Irish Outdoor Education - Knowing my place

    About Stephen Hannon

    Lecturer in Outdoor Education and Experiential Education at the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology in Ireland.
    Relevant Publication:
    Hannon, S. (2018). Irish Outdoor Education - Knowing my Place. In P. Becker, B. Humberstone, C. Loynes, & J. Schirp, The Changing World of Outdoor Learning in Europe (pp. 194-206). Oxon: Routledge.


    This talk will seek to explore whether there is a distinctively Irish cultural perspective on nature and landscape and examine how this has impacted on how learning outdoors is perceived and practiced in the country.  The talk is influenced by Slater’s two ‘socially constructed’ ways to read Irish landscape, the picturesque and the oral interpretations, which create senses of detachment and attachment respectively to the local place. It will trace how these traditions can be evidenced in the poetry of the period and explores how the emergence of a national system of education in Ireland provided an arena in which these contested views of landscape, culture and nature were further disputed.  The Irish Landscape, which is a synthesis of its habitat and history, is enmeshed in the story of how outdoor education in Ireland evolved and is reflective of the wider influences that have shaped the country.

  • Dr. Anita Saaranen-Kauppinen : Finnish perspective on nature and education

    About Dr. Anita Saaranen-Kauppinen

    DSocSci, Principal Lecturer in Adventure and Outdoor Education, Community Educator Studies, Humak University of Applied Sciences, Finland


    Finland is the most forested country in Europe. In addition, Finland is well-known for thousands of lakes and the wilderness of Lapland. Over the history, Finnish people have always had a strong physical, spiritual, and sociocultural connection with nature. Today, Finns still have a close relationship with the outdoors. In the presentation, I will shed light on the linkage between Finnish culture, nature, and education.
    After the last Scandinavian Glacial period (Nordic Ice Age), the nature conditions in Finland were demanding. People needed to survive in the backwoods by hunting, fishing, and gathering, and later on, by farming. This long bush craft period is called “Erä” tradition. From the 1600s on, “erä” gradually turned into agriculture, forestry, trading, and exchange economics. In addition to physical and material practices, nature has been present in Finnish people’s immaterial values and beliefs, such as in animistic religions and different forms of spirituality. Myths and mythology play an important role in Finnish sociocultural history and collective memory, e.g. in the stories of the Finnish national epic Kalevala, nature elements have a fundamental role.
    In the 19th and early 20th centuries, romantic nationalism inspired by nature became part of the Finnish national independence movement. Social movements and civic and volunteer organizations put a strong focus on nature skills and outdoor environments in their practices and programmes. In the 1970–90s, along the structural change of society, alternative pedagogics for schools and empowering models for the youth work were needed. The period laid the foundation for formal outdoor and adventure education in Finland. In the 1990s, there was an increased number of educational courses on outdoor and adventure education, and a significant growth in nature, outdoor and adventure tourism.
    Nowadays, in the early and basic education curricula, supporting a sustainable lifestyle and strengthening the relationship with nature are seen as crucial. In the basic education, phenomenon-based learning processes are emphasised, and hence the interest in experiential and adventure- and activity-based learning in the outdoors has increased. Utilising nearby nature, e.g. the woods, parks, lakes, and rural surroundings, is more and more common. Outdoor and nature activities are also arranged through excursions, field trips and camp schools. Within higher-level education, Humak University of Applied Sciences has a long tradition in carrying out courses and study modules in adventure and outdoor education. In the autumn 2018, Humak launched a new international bachelor’s degree programme, in which students learn e.g. how to utilize nature as a versatile educational learning environment for different purposes and target groups.
    In everyday life, Finnish people like to spend their spare time in various natural settings. The right or freedom to roam, or public access right (Ministry of the Environment 2013/2019), is a Finnish and Scandinavian tradition and specialty, which has had its own important influence on the outdoor culture and education. With only a few restrictions, Finns are able to enjoy nature to its fullest during the four seasons.

    The presentation is based on the following sources:

    Finnish National Agency of Education (2014). New national core curriculum for basic education. Available at: https://www.oph.fi/english/curricula_and_qualifications/basic_education/curricula_2014

    Karppinen, S.J.A. (2020, will be published). Outdoor adventure education in Finland – historical aspects. In S. Karppinen, M. Marttila & A. Saaranen-Kauppinen (eds.) Outdoor Adventure Education in Finland – Pedagogic and Didactic Perspectives. Humak University of Applied Sciences.

    Kujala, J. (2018). From Erä to Elo, loss or gain? A brief history of Finnish outdoor education. In P. Becker, B. Humberstone, C. Loynes & J. Schirp (eds.) The Changing World of Outdoor Learning in Europe. New York: Routledge, pp. 221–234.

    Ministry of the Environment (2013/2019). Everyman’s rights. Available at: https://www.ymparisto.fi/en-us/nature/everymans_rights

    Nieminen, J. (2020, will be published). From everyday woodcraft to professional youth work – a short history of adventure education in Finnish youth work. In S. Karppinen, M. Marttila & A. Saaranen-Kauppinen (eds.) Outdoor Adventure Education in Finland – Pedagogic and Didactic Perspectives. Humak University of Applied Sciences.

    Saaranen-Kauppinen, A. (2019). Youth work through adventure and outdoor education – new international curriculum for community educators. In M. Seal (ed.) Teaching youth work in higher education. Tensions, connections, continuities and contradictions. Tartu: University of Tartu, Newman University, Humak University of Applied Sciences and Estonian Association of Youth Workers: 241–246.

    Saaranen-Kauppinen, A. (2020, will be published). Degree programme in Adventure and Outdoor Education at Humak University of Applied Sciences. In S. Karppinen, M. Marttila & A. Saaranen-Kauppinen (eds.) Outdoor Adventure Education in Finland – Pedagogic and Didactic Perspectives. Humak University of Applied Sciences.

  • Dr. Chris Loynes : From Agony to Adventure: some influences on the history of outdoor education in England

    About Dr. Chris Loynes

    Dr. Chris Loynes is Reader in Oudoor Studies in the Institute for Science, Natural Resources and Outdoor Studies of the University of Cumbria. He researches for the Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas on the them of Human Nature Relations specialising in Outdoor Learning, Youth Trainsition and Enviornmental Citizenship.


    The Agon (from which the English word ‘agony’ derives) was the arena in which Greek men competed to be the best they could be at their art, craft or sport. I suggest that one ‘agon’ today is the outdoor adventure arena. The concept of adventure has a deep root in English history that begins with our imperial past. The places for adventure and the people who sought out these experiences have an equally deep root in the social history of the English landscape. The transformations in society brought about by the industrial revolution created the wealth and the demand for people to explore the countryside whilst the counter movement of the Romantics developed our modern concepts of natural beauty and the sublime. As education strived to keep up with the parallel changes in skilled work and a growing democratic participation, some progressive educators turned to outdoor adventure as a way to develop young citizens for the new society. All these elements are still visible in the diverse outdoor learning practices in England today.

    Loynes, Chris (2007): Social reform, militarism and other historical influences on the practice of outdoor education in youth work.