Dr Heidi Smith

Lecturer in Outdoor and Environmental Education

  • Moray House School of Education and Sport, IETL
  • University of Edinburgh

Contact details



Moray House School of Education and Sport
Holyrood Road, Edinburgh
Thomson's Land

University of Edinburgh (Holyrood Campus)
Post code


  • Available by appointment. Please email me.


Heidi Smith is a Lecturer in Outdoor, Environmental and Sustainability Education at Moray House School of Education. She is an experienced, passionate and committed educator with over 20 years experience working in Outdoor and Sustainability Education and Teacher Education. Heidi brings an innovative and international perspective to the preparation of outdoor specialists. She has demonstrated expertise in teaching outdoor education, preparing teachers and leaders, theoretically and practically, through leadership, pedagogy and internationalisation. Heidi consistently integrates empathy, equity, diversity, inclusion, indigenous ways of knowing, sustainability, social justice, nature connection, and balances risk and challenge into her practice of teaching outdoor and sustainability education, and teacher education, in the tertiary sector. 

Heidi possesses a demonstrated outstanding background in planning, implementing, evaluating and leading curriculum and pedagogy across a range of contexts, including leading course design and renewal.  She has held a number of leadership roles including Programme Director (Outdoor and Sustainability Education 2008-2012 and Primary Education 2015-2016), and Professional Studies Co-Lead (core pedagogy courses for teacher education). As one of the first Universities in Australia to provide teacher education through online learning (and the first Univeristy to provide outdoor education online), she is experienced in learning and teaching, and research, face to face, outdoors and online. Heidi supervises a range of Undergraduate, Masters, Educational Doctorate and Doctor of Philosophy students. Her approach to supervision is a personal one that values positive working relationships, providing research skill development as required and, extending and supporting students in their research. Heidi is dedicated to career long professional learning that is creative and innovative. She has engaged in a range of Visiting Scholar positions in Germany and Austria and continues to be committed to internationalising her own learning and implementing this into her every day practice. Heidi welcomes the challenges innovation and creativity provide. 

Prior to working at University, she had an extensive career teaching primary and secondary students, as well as university students and adults, in a range of education contexts including government and private schools, specialist programs (e.g., youth at risk, prison transition, corporate business, people with disabilities/chronic and terminal illness) and skills training (e.g., facilitation, pedagogy, leadership and outdoor skills). Heidi consistently demonstrated high skill levels in all outdoor pursuit areas (e.g., climbing, paddling, bushwalking, high ropes, vertical rescue) in a range of contexts (e.g., extended expeditions, centre based programs, urban, wilderness). While she taught predominantly outdoors, Heidi also spent time in the Personal Development, Health and Physical Education area in schools. 


Doctor of Philosophy, University of Wollongong, Australia: Extraordinary Outdoor Leadership: An Australian Case Study, 2012. 

Assessor and Trainer Certificate II-IV & Diploma in Outdoor Recreation, Far North Queensland Technical and Further Education (TAFE) 2004.

Master of Arts in Outdoor Education, Griffith University, Australia, 1999.

Bachelor of Education (Honours), University of Wollongong, Australia, Personal Development, Health and Physical Education, 1996.

Undergraduate teaching

Dissertation Supervisor

Postgraduate teaching

Current Course Organisation:

PgCert/PgDip/MSc Outdoor Education & PgCert/PgDip/MScMSc Outdoor and Environmental Education

Outdoor Environmental Education Praxis 

Personal and Social Development and Outdoor Education: Critical Perspectives

Dissertation Supervisor

MSc Education

Dissertation Supervisor 



Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I am interested in supervising students in Outdoor, Environmental and Sustainability Education and Teacher Education more generally. I value highly the relationship between supervisors and students, and meet with co-supervisors and students prior to accepting students (face to face or online) to ensure a positive experience for all. 

Current PhD students supervised

Doctor of Philosophy

  • The personal, social, cultural and political experiences of menstruation (began 2022)
  • The role of the outdoors as a third space for immigrant children in schooling (began 2022)


  • Intersectionality and the outdoors

Past PhD students supervised

Doctor of Philosophy

  • Motivation, expectations and realities of the teaching profession: Phenomenology of novice teachers in Ghana. University Tasmania (2022).
  • The Role of E-Portfolios in Higher Education: The experience of pre-service teachers (2017).
  • The effects of executive coaching on teachers, University of Tasmania, Australia. (2018)


  • Outdoor play and learning in Primary Schools: Barriers, benefits, challenges and enablers. University of Edinburgh.
  • Implementation of Learning for Sustainability in Scottish Schools: The teacher experience. University of Edinburgh.
  • Indigenous wisdom in outdoor programs: An Australian case study. University of Cumbria, UK (2018).
  • How important is father involvement for a son’s identity: An integrated look at how identity, psychology and experiential education can influence this relationship. University of Cumbria, UK (2017).
  • Outdoors and empowerment: Story of an Himalayan Woman.  Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Norway (submitted 2017).
  • Flipping the Classroom: Impact of implementation on teachers, University of Tasmania, Australia (2016).
  • A tale of two journeys: Experiences of transculturality and route vs routelessness. University of Cumbria, UK (2016).
  • What are we teaching the outdoor educators? Comparing Higher Education emphases in Australia and Norway: Outdoor Education vs Friluftsliv, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Norway (2013).
  • Coastal Kindergartens: From Norway to Greece, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Norway (2013).

Honours - First Class

  • Students’ affective experience of connection with nature: An Australian University case study. University of Tasmania, Australia (2016). 
  • Differentiation of teaching practice in the classroom: Girls versus boys. University of Tasmania, Australia (2015).

Research summary

The focus of my research is on Transforming Education through researching best practice Leadership, Pedagogy, and Internationalisation from a range of disciplines with a focus on, and passion for, the outdoors. I understand Leadership to be a process of interaction and extraordinary leadership as an attainable goal for all. Pedagogy has always been something that fascinated and for me, understanding why things work in the learning space, being able to repeat successful experiences, and understanding how curriculum and pedagogy come together and the various ways of doing both, are core to my praxis (the theory-practice nexus). My research into Internationalisation has predominantly focused on exploring the student and lecturer/visiting scholar experience of transculturality in higher education. The majority of my research is undertaken collaboratively with colleagues and students across the globe. 

Current research interests

Extraordinary Leadership, Transculturality in Higher Education, Nature Connection, Outdoor and Environmental Education, Learning Communities, Fear and Mental Training, Autobiography of Personal Practice, Intersectionality, Peace Studies and Peace Education

Past research interests

Outdoor and Sustainability Education Online, Improving Outdoor Leadership Practice, Human-Nature Relationships, Reflective Journals, Future Pedagogies

Knowledge exchange

Current Reviewer (since year)

  • Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning (2015).
  • Journal of Experiential Education (2015).
  • Journal of Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy (2014). 
  • Journal for Human Movement, Health and Coach Education (2014).
  • Manuscript review Books - Cambridge (2014).
  • Manuscript review Books - Common Ground Publishing (2013).
  • Australian Journal of Outdoor Education, now Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education (2012).
  • International Outdoor Education Research Conference Abstracts (2011). 

University of Edinburgh

  • Regular presenter at National and International Outdoor Education and Education Conferences. 
  • Presenter at Moray House School of Education Research Seminar(s).

University of Tasmania, Australia

Project activity

Chief Investigator:

  • Smith, H.A. & Gordon, C. Literacy Outdoors: Collaborative peer-to-peer learning and teaching. 

  • Smith, H.A., Dunn, C., Gebhardt, H., Lowery, N., Reed, J. & Richards, S. Intentional Learning Communities and Student Engagement in Higher Education. 

  • Smith, H.A., Segbers, T., & Maher, P. Transcultural experience of the students and staff of the Masters of Transcultural European Outdoor Studies program.

  • Smith, H.A. Transforming education: Bush schools and nature connection.

  • Smith, H.A. Re-imagining online learning experiences: Using social media to support development of nature connection in Outdoor Education in an urban space.

  • Smith, H.A. & Albert, A. Dealing with fear: Combining sports psychology mental training techniques with outdoor learning.


Coyle, D., Smith, H.A., et al. Hybrid Pioneers 

Completed Research projects

  • Nicol, R., Christie, B., Higgins, P., Smith, H.A., & Clarke, D. Keeping the Door Open: Curating, developing, and evolving Edinburgh University teaching in spaces and places within the city and beyond. 

  • Smith, H.A., Dyment, J.E., & Hill, A. Online Teaching and Learning in Outdoor and Sustainability Education Units: An Investigation of Potential.

  • Smith, H.A., & McKenna, P. Improving Outdoor Leadership Practice: Developing awareness of self, others and environment.

  • Smith, H. A., Holmes, M., Forde, M., Exploring the effectiveness of the ‘BushSense Workshop’ on developing human-nature relationships in individuals incorporating indigenous knowledge and experiential learning.

  • Dyment, J.E., Smith, H.A., O’Connell, T. ‘On-line’ vs ‘Pen and Paper’ journals: Influences of reflective journal type on Quality of Reflection and Student Experience.

  • Smith, H.A. & Drummy, M. Future pedagogies in higher education: 21st century pedagogical practice, learning environment and learning partnerships.

Current project grants

Smith, H.A. & Gordon, C. et al. Literacy Outdoors: Collaborative peer-to-peer learning and teaching. Student Experience Grant, University of Edinburgh £5000.

Past project grants

Smith, H.A., et al. Intentional Learning Communities. Student Experience Grant, University of Edinburgh £5000.
Nicol, R., Christie, B., Smith, H.A., et al. Keeping the Door Open. Principal's Teaching Award Scheme, University of Edinburgh £15000.
Masters, J. & Smith, H.A. (2016) King Island Primary School $20,000. The King Island Digital Stories Project: Capturing children’s stories of nature and
Co-Lead Smith H.A. & Wells, J. (2015-2016) Dream Big Project $80,000. (a subsidiary project of CREATE NW $300,000 - under the guidance of Professor Beswick, K., et al) Tasmanian Community Fund, An evaluation of the Dream Big program in terms of aspiration for young people in rural areas of
Smith, H.A., (2013) Maroon Outdoor Education Centre Research Contract $6000. Improving outdoor leadership practice: Developing awareness of self, others and nature.
Teaching Development Grants (TDG) – Community of Practice Category
Green, W., Smith, H.A., et al (2015). $3000. Crossing over: Easing the path to publishing in Scholarship of Teaching and Learning through an inter-disciplinary community of practice.
Smith, L., Smith, H.A., et al (2015). $3000. A national approach to child and youth health and wellbeing across the University of Tasmania courses in child and youth sector – health, education and welfare.
Kertez, J., Smith, H.A., et al (2015). $3000. ePortfolios in Teacher Education: Student and lecturer experience.
Career Development Grant
Smith, H.A. (2014). $8120. ePortfolios: Improving confidence, building skills and increasing quality output for students and staff in the Faculty of Education.
Research and Scholarship of Learning and Teaching Grant Scheme
Masters, J. & Smith, H.A. (2015). $3000. Rising to the Cloud: Connecting with Web 3.0 and Cloud Computing for Teacher Education.
Smith, H.A., Dyment, J.E., Hill, A. (2014) $3000. Online Teaching and Learning in Outdoor and Sustainability Education Units: An Investigation of Potential.
Smith, H.A., Dyment, J.E., Hill, A. (2013). $4000. Online Teaching and Learning in Outdoor and Sustainability Education Units: An Investigation into Student Experience and Perceptions.

View all 18 publications on Research Explorer

Conference details

University of Edinburgh, Learning and Teaching Conference, UK.

  • Smith, H.A., Dunn, C., Gebhardt, H., Lowery, N., Reed, J. & Richards, S. (2020) Intentional Learning Communities and Student Engagement in Higher Education.


  • Smith, H.A. (2019). Defining outdoor learning: Defiant, futile, or ever-changing.

Nature Connections Conference, UK

  • Hayward, D & Smith, H.A., Moltow, D. (2016). Experiences of explicit connection with nature pedagogy from a student and educator perspective: An Australian case study.

International Outdoor Education Research Conference Presentations

  • Smith, H.A. & Stein, S. (2024). Intersections of Outdoor Environmental Education and Peace Education.
  • Smith, H.A. & Albert, A. (2022). Mental Training and Outdoor Education: Recommendations for practice. 
  • Mahon, K. & Smith, H.A. (2018). Moving beyond 'methodising' theory in preparing for the profession.
  • Smith, H.A., Maher, P. & Segbers, T. (2018). Visiting scholar experiences of transcultural outdoor studies in higher education.
  • Smith, H.A. & Segbers, T. (2018). Impact of transculturality on student experience in higher education.
  • Albert, A. & Smith, H.A. (2018). Moving beyond fear: Mental training and outdoor education.
  • Dyment, J.E., Smith, H.A., Hill, A. (2016). You want us to take outdoor education where? Student experiences of studying outdoor education
  • Smith, H.A. (2016). Deep nature connection: Explicit ways of ‘teaching’ through experience.
  • Hayward, D & Smith, H.A., Moltow, D. (2016) Something very special happened out there: Student experiences of connection to nature. 
  • Dyment, J.E., Smith, H.A., Hill, A. (2013). You want me to teach outdoor education where…? Lecturer reflections on teaching outdoor education online.
  • Dyment, J.E., O'Connell, T. & Smith, H.A. (2013). How does modality of reflective journal writing affect quality of reflection? Pre-service teacher perceptions and experiences.
  • Smith, H.A. (2011). Extraordinary Outdoor Leaders: Leading with the Head, Heart, Body and Soul.
  • Dyment, J.E., Smith, H.A., Morse, M., & Shaw, S. (2011). The Tasmanian Pre-Tertiary Outdoor Leadership Curriculum: An Investigation of Opportunities and Challenges.
  • Smith, H.A., (2009). Learning from Real Life ‘Extraordinary’ Outdoor Leaders.

Australian National Outdoor Education Conference Presentations

  • Smith, H.A. (2018)   Deep Nature Connection: Intentional ways of ‘teaching’ through experience, Practical Workshop based in praxis.
  • Mahon, K. & Smith, H.A. (2012). Outdoor Education Praxis: What is it? How do we nurture it? Why would we want to?
  • Smith, H.A. (2012). Extraordinary Outdoor Leaders: Leading with the Head, Heart, Body and Soul.
  • Dyment, J.E., Smith, H.A., Morse, M., Shaw, S. (2012). The Tasmanian Pre-Tertiary Outdoor Leadership Curriculum: An Investigation of Opportunities and Challenges.
  • Dyment, J.E., O'Connell, T., & Smith, H.A. (2007). Journal Writing at the University of Tasmania: Research and Practice.
  • Smith, H.A. (2005). Facilitation Techniques for the Youth of Today.

State Conference Presentations

  • Smith, H.A., (2008). Facilitation Techniques for the Youth of Today (TOETA).
  • Smith, H.A., (2008). Games and Problem Solving in Outdoor Education: Tips and Tricks.
  • Smith, H.A., (2005). Games and Problem Solving in Outdoor Education (TasORC).
  • Smith, H.A., (2004). Facilitation Tools and Techniques for Outdoor Educators (OEAQ).

Invited speaker

Edinburgh Outdoor Learning Network (2023).