Developing themes for our issues for 2021 with the editorial board, being outdoors kept popping up in the conversation. The topic felt exciting for various reasons.
2020 was the year that forced us to spend a great deal of our time inside, but also reminded us of the joys of being outside, even if only in the comfort of our own backyard.
With limited options available, people showed their ability to adapt and improvise; it has been a pleasure to witness a new rise in walking meetings, Christmas picnics in the Nordic climate, dance classes taken to the local park.
Moving your body, observing the landscape around you, or feeling the sun on your cheeks are all experiences that are still difficult to fully replicate in a virtual environment.
Many might have also discovered new hobbies and interests during this weird time. I myself started winter swimming and found a much-needed source of energy and relaxation. Without a certain virus shutting down a lot of other activities, I might have been too distracted to give it a try.
THE LOCKDOWN OBVIOUSLY fast-tracked online education, but digitalisation and remote learning were already huge trends even before 2020.
As more and more of learning is taking place via screens and on digital platforms, being in physical space, in the presence of other living and breathing things, gains a whole new significance. Moving your body, observing the landscape around you, or feeling the sun on your cheeks are all experiences that are still difficult to fully replicate in a virtual environment. They also affect the way we learn.
Lastly, exploring the world on one’s doorstep is also a strong reminder of the fact that we exist on a globe that is very much affected by our actions. Just spending time in a nearby forest or participating in a local community garden can teach us valuable skills, but also brings home, in a very tangible way, what is at stake if we do not learn to move towards a more sustainable way of living.
FOR ALL THESE REASONS, our summer issue 2021 explores different aspects of what (adult) learning outdoors means and could mean.
By popular definition, outdoor education means using interaction with the natural world to develop positive relationships with the environment, others and ourselves. Often, this automatically makes us think of wilderness-based, adventure experiences such as hiking, canoeing or climbing.
How has the pandemic affected learning in rural and in urban environments?
In this issue, however, we wanted to broaden our horizons a little, and simply examine education that takes place in the outdoors. What are the traditions and innovations that take education out of the classroom, both literally and figuratively? How has the pandemic affected learning in rural and in urban environments? Why are different physical landscapes important for learners, and how can they be used creatively in education?
These questions took us to various places across the world; from an Italian university offering outdoor study rooms for struggling students to combined walking and language learning holidays in rural Spain, from cycling across South America to exploring one’s hometown with new eyes, and from developing more inclusive urban green spaces in Copenhagen to experimenting with walking pedagogy in Lisbon.
We hope you enjoy the journey with us.