picture survey group

Downwards – Learning about Environment

Environmental Awareness

There is a range of evidence to suggest that young people learn about the environment during a wilderness expedition. On one level this is hardly surprising - indeed such a result would be expected after an extended period living in a beautiful wilderness setting. The research shows that various learning outcomes may be achieved. Firstly, there is 'appreciation' of the natural environment (Allison 1998; 2000; 2005), understood as a relationship between self and environment akin to relationships between self and others. Andrews (1999) also understands young people's experience of the environment as an extension of the 'sense of community' existing between participants.

Secondly, environmental awareness also develops in a political or social sense, whereby participants from developed countries become more aware of their comparatively privileged position in the world. In one study, 94% of expedition participants reported that their understanding of other cultures had increased as a result of their experiences (Sheldon 2009, pp.42-47). This is similar to the enhanced appreciation of modern conveniences found by Beames (2005). It is worth noting that both studies relate to Raleigh International, a provider with a particularly strong focus on community learning projects.

Environmental appreciation (Allison 1998; 2000; 2005)
Sense of place (Andrews 1999)
Appreciation of modern conveniences (Beames 2005)
Global awareness (Sheldon 2009)