Outdoor Orientation Programs: Current Research and Trends

Presented by: Dr. Brent Bell & Dr. Michael Gass

Length of Webinar: 1 hour


Webinar Description:

Dr.’s Brent Bell and Michael Gass discuss their latest research on outdoor orientation programs in the United States and Canada. 

Outdoor orientation programs are one of the most important entry points for college students to discover outdoor education. Recent outdoor orientation research demonstrates some important social and educational gains for participants and leaders. This has led to new theories about how outdoor orientation programs work. During this webinar, we will examine the question: How can we maximize the efficacy of our programs based on this new information. Participants should expect to gain a deeper understanding of how outdoor orientation gains are realized.   Registrants will gain access to a research paper: The State of Knowledge of Outdoor Orientation Programs: Current Practices, Research, and Theory to read prior to the seminar. 

Presenter Info:

Michael Gass is a Professor in the College of Health and Human Services at the University of New Hampshire where he is the Director of the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Center. He received his Ph.D. in Experiential Education from the University of Colorado at Boulder and completed postdoctoral studies in marriage and family therapy. He is one of the creators of the Browne Center, a program development and research center on adventure learning that serves over 10,000 clients a year with educational, therapeutic, and corporate clients. He created and directed the Project Impact and Family Expedition programs, two federally funded research projects that explored working with youth suffering from behavioral disturbances. Some of his past international professorships have been in Taiwan, China, Australia, and Germany. He was the inaugural Chair of the AEE Accreditation Council for its first 10 years of existence as well as President of the Board of Directors of AEE in 1990.

Dr. Brent Bell is an associate professor of outdoor education at the University of New Hampshire. He researches outdoor orientation programs and their impact on student development, and has authored 16 peer-reviewed publications and two book chapters.  He is also co-author, along with Bob Baird (United Educators) and Drew Leemon (NOLS), of “Guide to Managing Risks in Wilderness Education.” Since 2003, he has spearheaded the Outdoor Orientation Program Symposium (OOPS), hosting more than 28 symposia focused on issues, research and practice in outdoor orientation in the U.S. and Canada.  Active in the Association for Experiential Education (AEE) for three decades, Brent was honored with that organization’s Karl Rohnke Award in 2009 and its “PICOUP” award — for a “person in charge of unlocking potential” — in 2014.