Environmental awareness through rock climbing: connecting students to their outdoor practice

Porter, Su (2018) Environmental awareness through rock climbing: connecting students to their outdoor practice. In: 16th European seminar of the Institute of Outdoor Adventure Education and Experiential Learning (EOE), 28th June – 02nd July 2017, Plymouth Marjon University.

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The BA Outdoor Adventure Education, OAE, degree at the University of St Mark and St John, Marjon, includes the development of students’ environmental awareness. To develop this, students are asked to produce an auto-ethnographic account of their participation in rock climbing in the outdoor environment. Taking Brown and Dilley’s (2012, 37) assertion that “a ‘responsible’ [outdoor] subject…is held to be a ‘knowing’ subject”, we hope this exercise provokes a development of the students’ self-awareness, environmental awareness and – crucially – self-in-environment awareness. This paper reflects on the success, or otherwise, of this exercise to encourage students to take up questions about themselves in relation to the environment they inhabit. Firstly, mention of environment as other-than-self connects with the issue of students’ cognitive knowledge of the environment. At this time, a highly apposite paper appeared in the Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, in which Robbie Nicol presented an autoethnographic account of a solo expedition by canoe and sea kayak (Nicol, 2013). Nicol recounts how a prolonged encounter with a fly during his journey piqued his curiosity, leading him to want to know about the fly, suggesting that autoethnography could act as a precursor to engagement with scientific knowledge of the environment. Second, Utsler’s (2014) emphasis on the capacity for (environmental) identities to change. Some students wrote about themselves in relation to the environment more explicitly, more consciously, than others. This seemed to be those students who were more technically competent, this accords with suggestions from Wattchow (2007, 2008) and Preston (2014) that novice participants in outdoor activities can be overwhelmed by technical demands,rendering anything beyond that immediate focus (such as ethical relations with place) unimportant. This raises questions about how we progressively address ‘the environment’ indifferent ways within the OAE degree programme in such a way that it might lead the students into developing aesthetic/cognitive/scientific knowledge of the non-human world.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Keynote)
Additional Information: Conference held at University of St Mark and St John
Divisions: Sport
Depositing User: Ms Kerry Kellaway
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2019 13:48
Last Modified: 03 Apr 2019 13:48
URI: https://marjon.repository.guildhe.ac.uk/id/eprint/17386

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