Nik says she has been interested in the inner workings of outdoor learning and outdoor education for some time. "I have been actively involved in practice based and academic research for a few years and am now in year 2 of my PhD". Nik's current research areas are the outdoors and social exclusion with a focus on poverty and food poverty.
Why is this research important?
From personal experience and through the outdoor work that Nik and the crew at the Curious School of the Wild undertake, she says "it is apparent that many people on low incomes may struggle to experience the outdoors in the same way as others with more resources. Despite the common idea that the outdoors is free and it costs nothing to go into nature, outdoor recreation and adventure can look like something that requires lots of specialist kit, expensive clothing, world travel and expert knowledge and experience. Whilst this can be the image portrayed in social media, and much nature and adventure wriitng, it is important to challenge misconceptions such as the outdoors is free"and a pet hate of mine-no such thing as bad bad weather, only bad clothing".
Inclusivity outdoors is now well on the map and work is being done to address issues of exclusion of some marginalised groups in the outdoors. (See the IOL INclusivity webinars for example or the Palgrave International Handbook of Women & Outdoor Learning as a starting point, if you are keen to learn more about inclusivity outdoors.)
It is however more difficult to address issues of poverty and low socio economic status in the outdoors. The equality act for example, that protects some people from discrimination through law, does not apply to groups experiencing poverty. If the way to encourage inclusivity is through representation of people from marginalised groups, then we challenge you to find active role models for representation of poverty and low income in the outdoors today. Poverty and low income in the outdoors are still very much invisible.
You can find guidance and inspiration for more examples of mini campaigns and practice based real life solutions on the poverty proof the outdoors pages.
Currently in year two of my PhD, I am building the work on poverty and inclusion in the outdoors and am investigating the influence of poverty and stigma on access to outdoor and adventure experiences.
I use ethnographic methods and utilise participant observation, fireside interviews and walking interview techniques.
OTHER RESEARCH INTERESTS
During her Masters Nik enjoyed exploring the relevance of folk tales and fairy tales in woodland and forest based education, and later, the use of food and cooking to break down financial barriers in outdoor education. "The use of story and folk tales in outdoor education work is really important. Stories that we have all grown up with and that permeate our folk and popular cuture tell us much about how we understand and interpret, nature, the outdoors and adventure. From advertising to film, t.v. and even childrens' literature, symbols and motifs of the wild and of the right of passage of adventure permeate our everyday lives.
Nik has several "pracademic" research interests that have been discussed, delivered at conferences, training and blogged about: Play, Aggressive play outdoors, Story, Monsters, Nature tables for inclusivity, Campfire Cooking, Neurodiversity Outdoors, Why Tiny adventures matter, Outdoors, nature and privilege, outdoor learning in unusual spaces.
You can find blogs on many of these subjects. They are not academic writing but are used to explore current concerns and respond quickly to issues as they arise.
Please get in touch if you are interested in me delivering a workshop, presentation, talk or training on any of these subjects or others.