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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Moray House School of Education and Sport : Education

Postgraduate Course: Environmental Philosophy and City-based Outdoor Learning (EDUA11317)

Course Outline
SchoolMoray House School of Education and Sport CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe history of western philosophy promotes a search for and love of wisdom. The pursuance of wisdom has never been as important as it is now, knowing that the survival of the human species requires changes to the way we live our modern lives. The context for this search lies within a contemporary world characterised by a changing atmosphere, degraded land and seascape, reduced biodiversity, yet infinite beauty. Through Place-Based approaches to education this course will explore ways of improving the relationship between human beings and the planet we inhabit. ¿Inquiry as stance¿ will be explored as a method of enquiry intended to seek out the knowledge and wisdom necessary to develop action competences that promote sustainable living. This philosophical background provides the basis from which to consider the implications for city-based outdoor learning.

The planet is experiencing the largest urban growth in its history and so the way that people experience city environments is central to the quest for sustainable living. This course focuses on being outdoors and indoors in city environments to explore how these settings might be used to provide inspiration toward sustainable living. Key to this enquiry is the notion of ¿presence¿ and ¿phenomenology¿ which suggest that the way in which people experience the places they inhabit influences their values. Thus, the idea of ¿presence¿ becomes central to the issue of our everyday personal and social identity that has wider moral implications for the way we relate to the planet.

The course is rooted in the tradition of Place-Based Education and seeks to explore the relationship between indoor and outdoor learning, motivation and pro-environmental behaviour. It specifically takes note of the proclamation from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO, 2019:1) that ¿all levels and forms of existing educational and teaching and learning programmes need to be reviewed and re-oriented to address the causes and consequences of climate change (and biodiversity loss)¿. Using this proclamation as a ¿sounding board¿ this course will explore city-based outdoor learning and the opportunities available in the development of programmes intended to address the transition towards sustainable living.
Course description Not entered
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Critically engage with various theories associated with Place-Based Education, be aware of the assumptions that underpin these theories and their implications for city-based outdoor learning
  2. Critically engage with planned and spontaneous opportunities that arise in the city from Place-Based approaches to education
  3. Students will take part in and critically reflect upon their urban solo experience with specific reference to theories associated with phenomenology
  4. Students will have have taken part in other experiential city-based outdoor learning activities that leads to further critical reflection on the relationship between theory and practice
  5. Students will have engaged in theories of reform pedagogy, ¿Inquiry as stance¿ and experiential education to understand the role of education as an agent of change
Reading List
Essential Reading

Cochrane-Smith, M. and S. Lytle. 2009. Teacher Research as Stance. In The SAGE Handbook of Educational Action Research, ed. S. E. Noffke and B. Somekh, 39-49. London: Sage.
Gruenewald, D. (2003) The best of both worlds: A critical pedagogy of place. Educational Researcher 32(4): 3¿12.
Nicol, R. 2013. ¿Entering the Fray: The Role of Outdoor Education in Providing Nature-Based Experiences That Matter.¿ Educational Philosophy and Theory 46 (5): 449¿461. doi:10.1111/j.1469-5812.2011.00840.x.
Nicol, R. & P. Sangster. 2019. You are never alone: understanding the educational potential of an ¿urban solo¿ in promoting place-responsiveness. Environmental Education Research
Seamon, D. 2014. ¿Place Attachment and Phenomenology.¿ In Place Attachment: Advances in Theory, Applications and Methods, edited by L. Manzo and P. Devine-Wright, 11¿22. London: Routledge. Available at:
van Manen, M. 2007. ¿Phenomenology of Practice.¿ Phenomenology and Practice 1 (1): 11¿30. Available at:

Advised reading
Amin, A. and Thrift, N. (2002) Cities; Reimaging the Urban. Cambridge: Polity.
Barad, K. 2014. ¿Diffracting Diffraction: Cutting Together-Apart.¿ Parallax 20 (3): 168¿187. doi:10.1080/ 13534645.2014.927623.
Beames, S., P. Higgins, and R. Nicol. 2012. Learning Outside the Classroom: Theory and Guidelines for Practice. New York: Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group.
Bozalek, V., and Z. Michalinos. 2017. ¿Diffraction or Reflection? Sketching the Contours of Two Methodologies in Educational Research.¿ International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education 30 (2): 111¿127. doi:10.1080/ 09518398.2016.1201166.
Cocks, S., and S. Simpson. 2015. ¿Anthropocentric and Ecocentric: An Application of Environmental Philosophy to Outdoor Recreation and Environmental Education.¿ Journal of Experiential Education 38 (3): 216¿227. doi:10.1177/ 1053825915571750.
Coverley, M. 2006. Psychogeography, Harpenden: Pocket Essentials.
Dall¿Alba, G., and R. Barnacle. 2007. ¿An Ontological Turn for Higher Education.¿ Studies in Higher Education 32 (6): 679¿691. doi:10.1080/03075070701685130.
Derby, M., L. Piersol, and S. Blenkinsop. 2015. ¿Refusing to Settle for Pigeons and Parks: Urban Environmental Education in the Age of Neoliberalism.¿ Environmental Education Research 21 (3): 378¿389. doi:10.1080/ 13504622.2014.994166.
Deringer, A. 2017. Mindful Place-Based Education: Mapping the Literature. Journal of Experiential Education, 40 (4): 333-348.

Dewey, J. 1963. Experience and Education. London: Collier Books.

Devine-Wright, P. & Manzo, L., 2014. Place attachment advances in theory, methods and applications, London: Routledge. Ebook online at
Duhn, I., K. Malone, and M. Tesar. 2017. ¿Troubling the Intersections of Urban/Nature/Childhood in Environmental Education.¿ Environmental Education Research 23 (10): 1357¿1368. doi:10.1080/13504622.2017.1390884.
Haraway, D. 1997 Modest_Witness@Second_Millennium.FemaleMan_Meets_OncoMouseTM: Feminism and Technoscience. London: Routledge.
Harvey, D. 2013. Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution. London: Verso. Ebook available at
Freire, P. 1996. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Gray, D., Colucci-Gray, L. & Camino, E. 2009. Science, society and sustainability: Education and empowerment for an uncertain world. Oxon: Routledge.

Gruenewald, D.A. & Smith, G.A., 2008. Place-based education in the global age: local diversity, New York ; London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Hung, R. 2017. ¿A Critical Trilogy of Place: Dwelling in/on an Irritated Place.¿ Environmental Education Research 23 (5): 615¿626. doi:10.1080/13504622.2016.1182624.
Ingold, T. 2000. Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. ProQuest Ebook Central. London: Taylor and Francis Group.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. 2018. Special Report ¿Global Warming of 1.5°C¿ ¿ Summary for Teacher
Retrieved from

James, S. 2009. The presence of nature: a study in phenomenology and environmental philosophy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
James, S. 2015. Environmental Philosophy: An Introduction. Cambridge: Polity. Ebook available at:

Jonas, M. E. 2011. Dewey¿s Conception of Interest and its Significance for Teacher Education, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 43:2, pp. 112¿129.
Knapp, C., and T. Smith. 2005. Exploring the Power of Solo, Silence, and Solitude. Boulder, CO: Association for Experiential Education.
Lefebvre, H. 2003. The Urban Revolution. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. doi:10.1086/ahr/57.2.471.
Miettinen, R. 2000. ¿The Concept of Experiential Learning and John Dewey¿s Theory of Reflective Thought and Action.¿ International Journal of Lifelong Education 19 (1): 54¿72. doi:10.1080/026013700293458.
McInerney, P. John Smyth & Barry Down (2011) ¿Coming to a place near you?¿ The politics and possibilities of a critical pedagogy of place-based education, Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 39:1, 3-16, DOI: 10.1080/1359866X.2010.540894
Morgan, J. 2017. ¿Learning from Cities: A Cautionary Note about Urban/Childhood/Nature Entanglements.¿ Environmental Education Research 23 (10): 1369¿1378. doi:10.1080/13504622.2017.1325449.
Peters, M. 2009. ¿Editorial: Heidegger, Phenomenology, Education.¿ Educational Philosophy and Theory 41 (1):1¿6. doi:10.1111/j.1469-5812.2008.00516.x.
Pyyry, N. 2017. ¿Thinking with Broken Glass: Making Pedagogical Spaces of Enchantment in the City.¿ Environmental Education Research 23 (10):1391¿1401. doi:10.1080/13504622.2017.1325448.
Rautio, P., R. Hohti, R.-M. Leinonen, and T. Tammi. 2017. ¿Reconfiguring Urban Environmental Education with ¿Shitgull¿ and a ¿Shop.¿¿ Environmental Education Research 23 (10): 1379¿1390. doi:10.1080/13504622.2017.1325446.
Relph, E. 1976. Place and Placelessness. London: Pion.
Scannell & Gifford, 2010. Defining place attachment: A tripartite organizing framework. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 30(1), pp.1¿10. Online at
Seamon, D. 2018. Life takes place. Phenomenology, lifeworlds and place making. London: Routledge. Available at:
Nicol, R. 2014. ¿Fostering Environmental Action through Outdoor Education.¿ Educational Action Research 22 (1): 39¿56. doi:10.1080/09650792.2013.854174.
Smith and Sobel, D. 2004. Place and Community-Based Education in Schools New York: Routledge. Available at:

Stevenson, R. 2007. Schooling and environmental education: contradictions in purpose and practice. Environmental Education Research, 13(2), 139-153.
Straker, T., T. Potter, and D. Irwin. 2017. ¿Untrodden Paths: A Critical Conversation about Wilder Places in Outdoor Education.¿ Canadian Journal of Environmental Education 22: 97¿115.
Tilbury, D. and D. Wortman. 2004. Engaging people in sustainability. Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: Commission on Education and Communication, IUCN.
Tuan, Y. 1974. Topophilia: A Study of Environmental Perception, Attitudes, and Values. London: Prentice-Hall.
UNESCO, (2019) Retrieved 25/7/19.

van Manen, M. 1995. On the epistemology of reflective practice. Teachers and teaching: theory and practice 1, no. 1: 33¿50.

Wattchow, B. & M. Brown. 2011. A Pedagogy of place: Outdoor education for a changing world. Victoria: Monash University Publishing.
Wolsink, M. 2016. ¿Environmental Education Excursions and Proximity to Urban Green Space ¿ Densification in a ¿Compact City.¿¿ Environmental Education Research 22 (7): 1049¿1071. doi:10.1080/13504622.2015.1077504.
Zembylas, M. 2017. ¿The Contribution of the Ontological Turn in Education: Some Methodological and Political Implications.¿ Educational Philosophy and Theory 49 (14): 1401¿1414. doi:10.1080/00131857.2017.1309636.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsExperiential education,Place Based Education,Reform Pedagogy,Learning for Sustainability
Course organiserDr Robbie Nicol
Tel: (0131 6)50 9793
Course secretaryMiss Claire Chalmers
Tel: (0131 6)51 6573
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