Experiencing the outdoors: Embodied encounters in the Outward Bound Trust

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This paper explores young people's experiences of outdoor education through bodily encounters with nature and place, and interactions with material objects. Much academic engagement with outdoor education has taken the form of outcome orientated studies, and geographers have yet to truly explore the social and physical spaces of outdoor education. I draw on literature from recent outdoor education research which questions: first, the apparent lack of attention to place-based and embodied ways of knowing in outdoor education; and second an uncritical adoption of technology and materiality in outdoor education practices. The article then engages with geographical work on the body and space, and, using original research conducted with the Outward Bound Trust, considers how embodied experiences in place are foregrounded in young people's accounts of outdoor education. I show how, through their corporeal interactions with place and technology, they enact individual agency through their bodies. Finally the discussion draws attention to some of the structural constraints and power relations that restrict young peoples’ bodies in outdoor educational spaces.




Hickman Dunne, J. (2019). Experiencing the outdoors: Embodied encounters in the Outward Bound Trust. Geographical Journal, 185(3), 279–291. https://doi.org/10.1111/geoj.12288

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