Pre-conference Research Symposium

Connecting evidence, policy and practice

When: Thursday, May 25th, 9.30am- 4.30 pm

Where: La Trobe University Bendigo, Victoria, Australia

The research symposium day will deliver an interactive event that contributes to the development and growth of outdoor learning within Victorian and nationally.

The day will include:

  • John Quay as MC
  • International perspectives on outdoor research, policy and practice
  • Victorian and national perspectives on outdoor learning policies
  • Opportunities for teachers and researchers to discuss how to influence policy agendas

The symposium is intended for teachers, researchers, and policy makers. The morning will highlight potential connections between research and policy, while the afternoon will have a particular focus on ways in which teachers and practitioners can connect with research and researchers. We would like to hear from all participants on the day, and there will be small roundtable discussions between presentations to enable this.

The research symposium aims to deliver a high quality, interactive event that contributes to the development and growth of outdoor learning within the Victorian Education State Initiative as well as the Australia Curriculum. The format will provide international perspectives and opportunities for dialogue, capacity building, and networking at the local level around outdoor learning.

The symposium is intended for practicing teachers, active researchers, policy makers and those with interests in connecting evidence, policy and practice as a way of furthering opportunities for outdoor learning.

Outdoors Victoria is offering up to 4 scholarships for HDR students who are currently conducting research in areas relating to Outdoor Learning.

Criteria for selection:

  • Open to full time enrolled higher degree by research students
  • Must be able to demonstrate how your current research is related to outdoor learning
  • Attending the OV conference (generous student discounts apply) including covering own travel and accommodation costs
  • Encouraged to submit an abstract to present at the OV conference now or in the future depending on the stage of research.

Applications are invited via email to with the subject ‘HDR Student Scholarship’ no later than Monday 1 May 2017. Successful applicants will be notified via email. Applicants should submit a maximum 1 page statement outlining how their current research relates to outdoor learning and a statement of how they meet the above criteria.

Keynote speakers proudly sponsored by La Trobe University & DHHS in partnership with Australian Camps Association

International Keynote Speakers

Sue Waite

Sue Waite

Associate Professor (Reader) in Outdoor Learning in Plymouth Institute of Education at Plymouth University

Sue Waite is investigating how place, people and pedagogies interact to support positive societal outcomes through play, learning, health and wellbeing in the great outdoors.

Sue’s research has included looking at youth benefits from living in and engaging with activities within National Parks, Economic and Social Science Research Council grants looking at ‘Opportunities afforded by the outdoors for alternative pedagogies in children’s transition from Foundation Stage to Year 1’ and ‘Understanding educational and wellbeing implications of learning outside the classroom through cross-national collaboration’. Walking in wild places is her favourite outdoor activity.

Provocation: Evidence and policy for outdoor learning: unhappy bedfellows?

This talk will focus on aspects of the research/policy interface in outdoor learning and explore how productive relationships between the research agenda and the development of policy might be advanced.

Matt P. Stevenson

Matt P. Stevenson

PhD Fellow at the Centre for Outdoor Recreation and Education (CORE), University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Matt P. Stevenson is a PhD Fellow at the Centre for Outdoor Recreation and Education (CORE), University of Copenhagen, Denmark. CORE is a research and development centre that works with interpretation, research, education, learning, and health in nature. Matt’s education and research experience is primarily within neurocognitive psychology. He holds an MSc (Psychology) from the University of Otago, New Zealand. His current research area is environmental psychology where he is investigating how exposure to natural environments influences cognitive performance in children with and without ADHD, and how nature-based education affects cognitive and behavioural development in Danish school pupils. His work runs parallel to a larger project, TEACHOUT, which investigates the effects of curriculum-based education outside of the classroom (udeskole in Danish).

Provocation: Standing on the branches of giants: The combined role of practitioners and researchers in advancing nature-based learning in Denmark.

Learn More

This talk presents the research projects surrounding education outside the classroom in Denmark. In particular, the TEACHOUT project began in 2014 and is investigating how taking education outdoors influences pupil’s physical activity, social relations, learning outcomes, and cognitive skills. The talk will also reflect on the reciprocal relationship between practitioners and researchers and discuss the importance of this interaction for developing education practice.
Professor Peter Higgins

Professor Peter Higgins

Personal Chair in Outdoor and Environmental Education at Moray House School of Education at the University of Edinburgh.

The department has an international reputation and is one of few in the world with both a practical and teaching orientation as well as substantial research interests in the field of ‘learning outdoors’. The focus of the work of the Outdoor Education section is to prepare critically aware professionals to teach within and improve practice in Outdoor, Environmental and Sustainabilty Education, and also to make a significant contribution to research and knowledge in these fields. Peter’s national and international contribution has been recognised by the University of Edinburgh through the award of a Personal Chair, the only one in the field in the UK and Europe.

He is currently Dean of Students in the University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, and his significant contributions to teaching policy and practise in Higher Education have been recognised by the Higher Education Authority where he is a ‘Principal Fellow’.

*please note this presentation will be delivered via pre-recorded Podcast