Editor Interview: Routledge International Handbook of Outdoor Studies

Barbara Humberstone, Heather Prince and Karla A. Henderson, editors of the Routledge International Handbook of Outdoor Studies, talk to us about the importance of embracing the outdoors for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and mind-set.

The Routledge Handbook of Outdoor Studies is the first book to attempt to define and survey the multi-disciplinary set of approaches that constitute the broad field of outdoor studies, including outdoor recreation, outdoor education, adventure education, environmental studies and physical culture. This book has contributions from academics from all around the world, has forty-nine chapters and is the current leading and cutting edge handbook in this multidisciplinary field.

Nature-based sport and physical activity are crucial in maintaining and promoting the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities in life-long learning. As we are part of a broad network of researchers, academics and practitioners across the globe we knew we could put together a comprehensive, significant and insightful book that would draw together the various aspects of outdoor studies. We argue that knowledge of outdoor studies is crucial in addressing the current and important environmental and social justice issues. It has been hard work but an extremely enjoyable experience working together and with the contributors in writing and editing of this book.

Outdoor Studies is an emerging field that we felt required bringing together research from all aspects of human and nature interactions, particularly in this significant time of global warming and erosion of the natural environment and the climate change talks now taking place. It highlights the range of possibilities and opportunities in the outdoors that we hope will promote an increased enablement and entitlement for all.

This book brings together outdoor learning and formal/informal outdoor education with nature-based sport/physical activity and recreation, thus drawing attention to the crucial part outdoor studies plays in approaching social and environmental justice issues. The book is both interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary- it engages the outdoor field with parent disciplines. Those who read this handbook will see the outdoors in the context of theory and practice from other schools of thought, and not in isolation based on disciplinary background.

The key messages that we endeavour to highlight with this handbook are:

  • Outdoor studies is crucial in informing practice in social and environmental awareness.
  • The outdoors is accessible to all.
  • The outdoors contributes to mental, physical, and spiritual health and wellbeing.
  • People around the world have different but complementary perspectives about the value of outdoor studies.

This book will give information of research methodologies and current research and also details of professional practice and the outdoor sector as a career. It provides a practitioner- research nexus; each perspective informs the other. The Outdoor Studies field is moving toward an understanding of how to use both social and environmental awareness to contribute to the quality of life. The connections between social and environmental justice are beginning to be embraced and applied to outdoor studies. More is yet to be learned about the outdoor world, and knowing the current literature can help to inform future research as well as quality practice.

The Outdoor Studies field is moving toward an understanding of how to use both social and environmental awareness to contribute to the quality of life. The connections between social and environmental justice are beginning to be embraced and applied to outdoor studies.

Edited by Barbara Humberstone, Heather Prince, Karla A. Henderson