Risk Management and Social Justice Through the Lens of Outdoor Leadership

Course Overview and Learning Outcomes:

This course uses a framework of Outdoor Leadership to teach fundamental leadership tools and perspectives that support safety and well-being in groups and on teams.  Our series focuses on leading and teaching in a wilderness setting, managing risk and decision-making, exploring social justice and supporting groups to be grounded in a sense of place.  A weekend backpacking trip is an integral part of the course.  Although we will be addressing topics within an Outdoor Leadership context, the insights, practice and confidence you will gain is transferrable to working with people in any context including communities, classroom and organizations.  Be prepared for a highly interactive and hands on course.

Wilderness Risk Management and Decision-Making

Becoming a successful outdoor leader requires good communication skills, technical skills, teaching and facilitation skills, planning skills, etc. Most important of all, however, is the ability to identify and manage risk. This course is filled with interactive activities that focus on tools for risk analysis, decision-making, and exploring all the elements that go into developing good judgment.

Exploring Social Justice through the Lens of Outdoor Leadership

The goal of this section is to build consciousness and cultivate a resilient spirit for approaching matters of diversity, multicultural interactions and social justice.  The workshop will explore the influences of personal values, power, privilege, and differences. We will support the space to practice identifying and interrupting oppressive behaviors and to examine the power of reaching out and making connections. Gain greater confidence in, and appreciation for, supporting multicultural communities that thrive.  

Sense of Place

How do we begin to feel at home and why does it matter for leadership? We begin by developing a sense of place. A sense of place is that mutable set of emotions, connections, knowledge and familiarity that is developed through your personal history, your understanding of the biophysical context and by sharing experiences with others in a particular natural space. We lead with comfort, confidence and compassion when we have a keen sense of place specific to that space.

Field Activity Weekend:  Educator’s Backpacking Trip 

No experience necessary! Whether you’re an avid adventurer or a beginning backpacker, this is the trip for you. Enjoy a fun weekend in Big Sur as you focus on best practices for backcountry travel and camping, lessons to cover with beginners, the principles and practice of Leave No Trace, and having a fun group experience. Gain a deeper understanding of what goes into setting up fun, safe and successful beginner level backpacking trips.

Students will demonstrate increased confidence and the ability to do the following:

  • Use tools to identify and assess risk in the field
  • Decide which response is appropriate for managing different types of risk
  • Recognize the importance of building teamwork and good communication for managing risk
  • Recognize the multifaceted nature of risk-management- decision-making which includes being able to assess the 3 factors of: group skill-level and character, environmental conditions and one’s own skill level
  • Point to an awareness of their own values and experiences in relationship to diversity, multiculturalism and social justice
  • Identify their own competence with topics of diversity, multiculturalism and social justice
  • Adopt confidence through experience in addressing issues of diversity, multiculturalism and social justice
  • Understand the importance and value of having a sense of place and shared experience in the natural world
  • Express the value of a sense of place with others.