This conference is managed by an international organising group of researchers in outdoor education and is hosted at the University of Cumbria, England.

The History and purposes of the IOERC series

THE IOERC series started life at the Iron Bark Centre in 2001 where Prof. Barbara Humberstone was a visiting professor. Through various conversations, it was felt that there was a gap in the scholarly outdoor field and that an international conference might help to develop research thinking. The original vision was built on a perceived need to see the outdoors develop as a significant discipline which engaged with and is informed by social, educational, cultural and other theoretical frameworks; that is, to foster the development of its critical dimension. Arguably, outdoor education has in the past tended to ‘operate’ in splendid isolation. Consequently, it was decided to organise an outdoor education conference which focused upon research and brought in key speakers from outside the field.

The first conference was hosted by Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College now Buckinghamshire New University, UK, in April 2002. The title was, ‘Whose Journeys: Where and Why?: The ‘Outdoors’ and ‘Adventure’ as Social and Cultural Phenomena: Critical exploration of relations between individuals, ‘others’ and the environment’. The intention was to provide a forum for critical discussion around ‘adventure’ and the ‘outdoors’.

The second conference: Delegates from La Trobe University, Bendigo, Australia agreed to host what became the second outdoor education research conference (IOERC) in July 2004.

This second IOERC was titled, ‘Connections and Disconnections: Examining the reality and rhetoric: International perspectives on outdoor education theory and practice’.

The third Conference returned to the Northern Hemisphere and was hosted by the University of Central Lancashire (UK) in July 2006 and titled ‘Diversity in Theoretical and Critical Views of Outdoor Education’. This conference continued the idea and vision of the previous two conferences.

The fourth IOERC, returned to La Trobe University, revisited critical aspects of the field extending from 2002, with a title Critical Reflections, New Directions: Outdoor Education Research and Theory’.

As the first step away from the UK-Australia rotation, the fifth IOERC was hosted by the University of Southern Denmark in 2011and themed Different Places, Critical Perspectives and New Possibilities and the sixth IOERC was hosted by the University of Otago in New Zealand in 2013 with the theme of Future Faces: Outdoor Education Research Innovations and Visions’.

Over the first six conferences attendance grew steadily, in 2013 attendees numbered 140 from 24 countries, and many more people shared their current research versus simply attending.

IOERC7 was hosted by Cape Breton University, Nova Scotia in 2016. Based on the success and themes of the first six IOERC, and the interdisciplinary and multi-themed nature of outdoor education research, the IOERC academic committee chose to proceed with the 7th IOERC without a dedicated focus/theme. Thus, IOERC7 welcomed all presenters who could broadly enhance the understanding, practice, and research of outdoor studies. Papers from this conference can be found here and here A special conference issue of Pathways was also published. IOERC8 returned to Australia and the University of the Sunshine Coast in 2018. And now IOERC9, delayed a year by the global pandemic, will take place at the University of Cumbria in July 2022.  

There is every intention to continue the series. The committee welcomes approaches from potential hosts, especially from countries and regions who have not so far been included. Details can be found here

University Partners

The International Outdoor Education Research Committee members

University partners for this conference from the British Isles

Plymouth Marjon University (England)

University of Edinburgh (Scotland)

University of South Wales (Wales)

Munster Technological University (Ireland)

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