Changemakers: Success Stories from around the World

The 2017 keynote presentation is a collection of inspiring examples that epitomize the steady growth and success of experiential education (EE) on a global scale. Each of the three presenters has overcome obstacles while seeking to expand the practice of EE in their regions. Through passion and perseverance, they have succeeded in transforming education for hundreds of thousands of students around the world. They offer not only strategies for success, but also a redefined vision of what is possible and how we might best influence the future of education.

Tonia Gray HeadshotTonia Gray, PhD
Centre for Educational Research, Western Sydney University
Sydney, Australia

Tonia Gray, Ph.D. is a Senior Researcher at Western Sydney University's Centre for Educational Research, Australia. She has been involved in Wilderness Studies and Outdoor Education for over 30 years as a researcher, practitioner, and curriculum developer. With an MA in Community Health (UNC, Greeley Colorado) and a PhD in Outdoor Education (AUS), her interdisciplinary research explores human-nature relationships and their impact on well-being and human development. In 2014 Tonia received the prestigious Australian Award for University Teaching (AAUT) for excellence in outdoor experiential education. After extensive lobbying for outdoor learning to be an integral part of the Australian curriculum, in 2017 the realization of her lifelong dream eventually came true.

Outdoor Education and Adventure Therapy in Oz: Research, Practice, and Insights

Outdoor Education and Adventure Therapy is a burgeoning industry, so let’s turn the microscope onto what is happening “Down Under” to help broaden our worldview. Tonia will provide a ‘power-walk’ through the Australian Outdoor Learning landscape incorporating four interconnected themes: 1) a 30- year retrospective study on the effects of Outdoor Education upon adolescent participants; 2) an exploration of the status of women in Outdoor Learning environments; 3) recent school curriculum reform in 2017 acknowledging Outdoor Learning as a cross curriculum component; and 4) Acceptance Commitment Therapy and Outdoor Learning to enhance wellbeing and skill development.

Arun Chandna HeadshotTarun Chandna
Inme Learning
Gurgaon, India

Tarun is the co‐founder and CEO of Inme Learning & Exper Executive Education. Inme runs adventure and outdoor-based life skills learning program for children and school students, while Exper delivers high-impact leadership journeys and teambuilding programs for CEOs and their teams.

A pioneer of experiential education in India, he has led the field of group facilitation, behavioral, attitudinal training design and facilitation/delivery for the last 20 years. In addition to his work with over 50,000 children, he has worked with organizations including Google, Microsoft, Oracle, PepsiCo, American Express, HSBC, Vodafone, DHL, Royal Bank of Scotland, Volvo Eicher, and others.

Experiential Education: India’s Story

This presentation will cover how the Experiential Education field has grown over the last twenty years in India, and how the field has dealt with a myriad of challenges, including lack of infrastructure, medical facilities, and qualified resources. Tarun will also share how his program has adapted Western approaches to the Indian culture and environment.

Phil Butterfield Headshot Phil Butterfield, EdD
Connect Charter School
Alberta, Canada

Phil Butterfield is principal of Connect Charter School in Calgary, Alberta. He has been with Connect for 13 years as a school counselor, assistant principal, and is now in his second year as principal. In January 2017, Dr. Butterfield created an experiential education model that incorporates experiential and place-based education, providing opportunities for all students to experience settings in the local community where they gain appreciation of their role as a contributor, rather than a consumer.

EXPO: Connect Charter School’s Journey into an Experiential, Placed-Based Outdoor Education Program

The EXPO Program forges partnerships with community agencies and corporations in order to blend current outdoor education programs with place-based education. Within the Experiential and Outdoor Education Program (EOEP), the school is integrating learning loops that begin with students gaining conceptual understanding in the classroom, and then engaging in purposefully constructed activities in the community. Students not only make applications of learning to real world contexts, but develop an appreciation for their role and place within their local community and beyond.

The school has gained a great deal of insight into the complexity, challenges, and opportunities associated with organizational change when introducing an experiential education program. This presentation will share what they have learned from their journey, and how it can help your own organization best navigate the unexpected challenges that arise when incorporating experiential education into more traditional settings.

Going High When Others Go Low: Connecting, Sharing and Growing for a Better World

Join AEE 'Superstar' Marilyn Levin for a powerful combination of stories and activities aimed at capturing and directing the momentum of our amazing international community towards a more caring and compassionate world.  This closing presentation is guaranteed to energize and inspire those who attend.

Marilyn Levin, MSW is proud to be a long time AEE member/leader and Karl Rohnke Creativity award winner.  She is a social entrepreneur focused on whole system collaborative Innovation.  She is an award winning activist, a professional speaker and trainer and the author of Experiential Activities for a Better World.  She founded several organizations and served as Campaign Director for Four Years Go She currently serves as Managing Director of KINS Innovation Networks in collaboration with