Natasha Lowery, MSc Outdoor Education 2020
'I am grateful that the lecturers are open to discussion and debate, and for hearing alternative viewpoints. I have felt supported to question and explore the material. That being said, the times we get out onto the hill or the river have also been fantastic and it has been great to explore Scotland with our cohort!'
Why did you choose to study MSc Outdoor Education?
I wasn't too sure if I wanted to come back to education after my undergraduate experience, but after working at a nature preschool (nursery) in North America, and experiencing the beauty that arises for young children in nature, I wanted to set up my own school but wanted to understand if what we were doing at the school was appropriate and why. I found the MSc in Outdoor Education when I was searching for graduate programs that would help me understand the relationship we have with nature, and as a jumping-off point for starting my own school.
What did you enjoy most about the programme?
That's difficult to answer as there are many aspects of the programme that I enjoy. I am grateful that the lecturers are open to discussion and debate, and for hearing alternative viewpoints. I have felt supported to question and explore the material. That being said, the times we get out onto the hill or the river have also been fantastic and it has been great to explore Scotland with our cohort!
What specific skills did you develop?
Academically, I have really learned how to write at a postgraduate level. This course did a really good job of helping us hone those skills early on. I've also learned how to consolidate information and to question the literature in an effective way. Though the course doesn't give you any qualifications in the various outdoor activities (meaning, we don't get canoe or hillwalking certifications) we've still learned a lot of valuable skills such as group management, cooking for large groups, planning and implementing expeditions. I also just want to mention that we are constantly learning from each other since we come from different backgrounds, places, levels of experience and perspectives.
Why would you recommend the programme to others?
The lecturers and staff are amazing both in the quality of their teaching and in their support of the learners. They are all beautiful leaders and educators, both in the classroom and out.
What did you find most challenging and what did you find most rewarding about the programme?
One challenging aspect of the programme for our cohort has been the distinction between the MSc Outdoor Education and MSc Outdoor Environmental and Sustainability Education. We've had discussions among us as to why there is a distinction since it seems that sustainability and environmental education is inherently connected with outdoor activities, learning and education. I'm sure not everyone feels this way, but I've found this distinction challenging.
This programme has been hugely rewarding, which I have alluded to in previous answers, but I think the most rewarding part is the quality of teaching and leadership from the staff/lecturers, as well as the exchange of learning and ideas among the students.
What has been your favourite course so far?
Academically, I loved Concept-Based Practice. I don't want to give too much away, because it is a special course. I loved it because I think it has done the best at bridging the gap between students across the different Outdoor Environmental Education programmes (in terms of content, and the fact that it is a shared academic course for us). In terms of outdoor courses, I loved them all but particularly enjoyed Winter Hillwalking which was a surprise because I was really nervous about the harsh weather. It was a challenge and wasn't always pleasant, but there were moments on the hill when the clouds opened up and you could see the hills for miles, and that was really special.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering studying at Edinburgh?
If possible, it is helpful to get here earlier than the start date of your program. It is helpful in terms of organizing yourself (i.e: opening a bank account, finding accommodation, registering for a GP). Having a bike has also been really helpful and can be a good investment.