Primary encounters: towards a conceptual model of place relations in outdoor adventure education

Smallwood, Amy ORCID logo ORCID: (2023) Primary encounters: towards a conceptual model of place relations in outdoor adventure education. Doctoral thesis, University of Cumbria.

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Outdoor adventure education (OAE) was formally introduced in the early-mid 1900s to address certain societal ills. At the time, the focus was on the decline of physical and moral character in young boys, and the outdoors was seen as an ideal environment to address these concerns. In today’s culture, however, increasing awareness of environmental concerns has highlighted a need for pedagogy focused on human-place relations leading to moral change that inspires pro-environmental behaviours. A growing body of literature suggests that OAE experiences contribute to human relationships with the more-than-human world. However, a thematic analysis of the literature reveals a disconnect between the sociocultural foundations of OAE pedagogy, the onto-epistemological assumptions that inform pedagogy, and the resulting human-nature relations. Additionally, the literature does not adequately address the nature of relationship or how ‘relationship’ might translate into behaviours. This thesis employs a phenomenological lens to the question of relationship, challenging the onto-epistemological foundations of OAE pedagogy that are still influenced by problematic sociocultural structures. I argue that the roots of traditional OAE pedagogy encourage adversarial human-nature relations and suggest new ontoepistemological structures that encourage a different quality of relations leading to a sense of kinship and an ethic of care. Martin Buber’s philosophy of dialogue, experiences of the natural sublime, and indigenous ontologies are combined to suggest a phenomenon of primary encounters that has the potential to shift ontoepistemological assumptions and lead to more place-inclusive pedagogy. Drawing on my own experiences in OAE, I utilise autoethnography to both illustrate and test the concept of primary encounters. A thematic analysis of autoethnographic data reveals the ways in which embodiment, aesthetics, time, and practice contribute to a sense of mutuality and reciprocity between humans and the more-than-human world through primary encounters. Based on this autoethnographic data, techniques for applying primary encounters in OAE pedagogy are suggested.

Item Type: Thesis/Dissertation (Doctoral)
Departments: Institute of Science and Environment > Outdoor Studies
Additional Information: Thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Lancaster University / University of Cumbria, Institute of Science and the Environment, May 2023.
Depositing User: Anna Lupton
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2023 10:52
Last Modified: 10 May 2024 08:00


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