Professor Robbie Nicol (Principal Fellow Higher Education Academy)

Professor of Place-Based Education

Background

Robbie Nicol is Professor of Place-Based Education  at Moray House School of Education and Sport, the University of Edinburgh.

My life motivation comes from the realisation that human activities are fundamentally altering the planet’s ability to sustain us in the long term.  As an educator I believe that the outdoors provide places where individuals can rediscover their direct dependence on the planet through embodied experiences. As such my teaching and research interests are directed towards the theoretical development and practical implementation of environmental education, sustainability education and epistemological diversity (different ways of knowing) particularly in the outdoors.

I am currently supervise PhD and MSc students in a range of topics including place-based education, outdoor environmental education, environmenntal philosophy,  emotional intelligences, the use and application of learning models, and cross-cultural education.  I have authored more than 50 articles, co-authored Learning Outside the Classroom, Routledge (2012) and most recently Canoeing Around the Cairngorms: a Circumnavigation of my Home (2016).  I have delivered keynote conference addresses in Japan, Sweden, Canada, Slovenia, Denmark, UK, Finland and the Czech Republic.

I have worked as an outdoor educator within the public, commercial, charitable and voluntary sectors and hold a wide range of national governing body awards in canoeing/kayaking, mountaineering and skiing and maintains an active participation in these activities through journeying.

Outdoor Education at the University

Qualifications

  • BA (Hons) Recreation Management (Moray House)
  • PG Diploma in Outdoor Education (Moray House)
  • PhD (Edinburgh)

Responsibilities & affiliations

I am a Director of The Shieling Project https://www.theshielingproject.org

Postgraduate teaching

Course Organiser for these courses on our suite of MSc Programmes in 'Outdoor Education' 

  • Outdoor Environmental Education: Concept-Based Practice
  • Place-Based Education and Outdoor Learning in the City

Professional Development Programme on our suite of MSc Programmes in 'Outdoor Education' 

  •  Canoeing (River Spey Descent)

Other Teaching

  • MSc Dissertation Support Strand research conference (autoethnography)
  • Guest lectures on Initial Teacher Education programmes
  • Doctoral viva preparation workshops

 

 

 

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?

Yes

Areas of interest for supervision

I will supervise doctoral theses in the following areas. 

  • Place-Based Education
  • Outdoor Environmental Education (theory and practice)
  • Outdoor Education/Learning
  • Environmental Philosophy
  • Epistemological Diversity (different ways of knowing)
  • Experiential Learning
  • Sustainable Development Education
  • Learning for Sustainability

Current PhD students supervised

 

  • Hanser, C. 
  • Stockwell, L.

Past PhD students supervised

 

  • Briton, D. (2020) Is this an emergency?” Examining “emergency” in the context of school expeditions. Examining “emergency” as a social act
  • Clarke, D.  (2018) Practicing immanence: (still) becoming an outdoor environmental education academic University of Edinburgh.
  • Treacy, J.  (2017) Curricular Sports Programmes and Positive Youth Development in a Scottish context. University of Edinburgh.
  • Abdullah, S.  (2017) An Investigation into the Influence of Outdoor Environmental Education Courses on the Environmental Attitude and Behaviours of Malaysian Participants: A life history approach. University of Edinburgh.
  • Spiteri, J. (2016) Young Children’s Perceptions of Environmental Sustainability: A Maltese Perspective.  University of Edinburgh.
  • Shimoyamada, S. (2016) Production of Scottish Open Gardens. Differences in Perception of Power. University of Edinburgh.
  • Harrison, S. (2012) Place-based praxis: Exploring place-based education and the philosophy of place. University of Edinburgh.

Research summary

  • Place-Based Education
  • Outdoor Environmental Education (theory and practice)
  • Outdoor Education/Learning
  • Environmental Philosophy
  • Epistemological Diversity (different ways of knowing)
  • Experiential Learning
  • Sustainable Development Education
  • Learning for Sustainability

Project activity

I am on a part-time secondment with the Institute for Academic Development. My project activity is to  promote residential teaching, learning and research opportunities within the University of Edinburgh.

Keeping the Door Open: Curating, developing and evolving Edinburgh University teaching in spaces and places within the city and beyond.

 

Current project grants

Principals Teaching Award Scheme £15,000
Moray House School of Education and Sport Learning and teaching Innovation Fund £11,000

View all 44 publications on Research Explorer

Invited speaker

Key Note Conference Addresses

15-16/1/2002 (delivered jointly with Professor Peter Higgins) Learning as Adventure Theory for Practice to the Outdoor Connexions annual conference. Alton Towers, England.

14-15/2/04 Creating Sustainable Communities Through Education to the World School Network Symposium, Tokyo, Japan.

19/9/08 Sun, Sand, Sea and the Other S Word to the conference co hosted by The Eurpean Institute of Outdoor Adventure Education and Experiential Learning and Trinity College Wales.

30/10/08 Sustainanbility and the Outdoors: A Walking and Talking Approach to Experienitial Learning to the Insitute for Outdoor Learning’s Southern Branch, England.

22/1/09 Sustainability and the Great Outdoors.  The third annual Matti Telemaki Keynote address to the Finnish Outdoor Education Assocation, Oulo, Finland.

March (2009)Sustainability and the Outdoors: A Walking and Talking Approach to Experiential Learning. Keynote presentation to the Institute for Outdoor Learning Southern Branch. (Outside London)

15/6/09 Which qualifications are needed to become an outdoor teacher and what is the teacher’s role? Keynote presentation to a European Union Comenius conference called ‘Outdoor Learning in Teacher Education’ in Aarhus, Denmark.

18/7/09 Connecting to the Outdoors.  Keynote presentation to Singapore’s Outdoor Education Association’s annual conference.

25/9/09 Water – Space for Expereince to The Eurpean Institute of Outdoor Adventure Education and Experiential Learning annual conference, Uekermunde. Germany.

23/7/10 The Nature of Experiential Learning. Presentation to the Programme for Active Learning conference, Singapore.

23/10/10 What qualities are need to become an outdoor teacher and what is the teacher’s role?  Presentation to the conference Udeskole: Combining Theory and Practice, Vigstedcentret, Denmark.

18/1/13  Why do we do what we do? Keynote presentation to the Institute for Outdoor Learning Northern Branch. Ambleside, England.

21-24/1/13 Changing Behaviour Towards a Sustainable Future. Keynote presentation to the First European Real World Learning Network Conference. Czech Republic.

17-19/9/15 The outdoors as a place for holistic learning. Implications for knowledge and practice. Keynote presentation to the Nordic International Outdoor Education Conference -  Ute är Inne.

February 2018 Would you trust your brain surgeon if they told you they were an experiential learner? Keynote address to the Burrenbio conference Kinvarra, Ireland.

 

Conference Presentations

September 1998 Perspectives on the Philosophy and Practice of Outdoor Education in Scotland. Umea, Sweden.

1998 Perspectives on the Philosophy and Practice of Outdoor Education in Scotland to the Moray House Faculty of Education.

18-20 July 2001 Let the River Run, Let the Mountains Speak.  But what do they say and what is left Unsaid?. Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication Conference Telling our Stories.

8-10/4/02 Presentation to the conference Whose Journeys - Where and Why? at  Buckingham Chilterns University College High Wycombe

4/5/02 Environmental Education presentation to Scottish Canoe Association annual conference.

6/8/04 Opening speech for the Patrick Geddes exhibition Ballater.

16-19 June 2005. The Phenomenology of the Great Outdoors to the 11th Symposium on Society and Resource Management in Ostersund, Sweden.

October 2006 Presentation of research findings to Learning and Teaching Scotland’s Outdoor Connetions seminar series at Stirling and Dundee.

23/1/09 Sustainability and the Great Outdoors.  Invited speaker to staff and students of University of Oulu, Finland.

28/4/09 How can local authorities integrate outdoor learning into practice? A research perspective. A presentation for Learning and Teaching Scotland’s Outdoor Learning Festival 2009.

18/7/09 Managing Organisational Change: Overcoming the Barriers That Prevent Teacher’s Going Outdoors. Presentation to Singapore’s Outdoor Education Association’s annual conference.

19/7/09 Canoeing Around Mountains. Presentation to Singapore’s Outdoor Education Association’s annual conference.

17/5/10 Beyond the Classroom: Inspirational Outdoor STEM for All. Presentation to Association for Science Education's Outdoor Science Working Group, Cambridge.

23/10/10 What qualities are need to become an outdoor teacher and what is the teacher’s role?  Presentation to the European Institute for Outdoor Adventure & Experiential Learning in partnership with the Centre for School and Outdoor Education Slovenia conference Encountering, Expereincing and Exploring Nature in Education.

April 2012. Has Outdoor Education Become Middle aged? Presentation to the Philosophy of Education Society (GB) Outdoor Education Conference (2012)

May 2012. The Nature of Outdoor Environmental Education. Presentation to the  7th biennial meeting of the International Network of Teacher Education Institutions associated with the UNESCO Chair on Reorienting Teacher Education to Address Sustainability. Universiy of York, Canada.

July 2012. Returning to the Richness of Experience: Is Autoethnography a Useful Approach for Outdoor Educators in Promoting Pro-Environmental Behaviour?  Presentation to the Leisure Studies Association conference Lesure, Living and Learning – Education in Sport, Tourism and the Outdoors, Edinburgh.

January 2013. Returning to the Richness of Experience: Is Autoethnography a Useful Approach for Outdoor Educators in Promoting Pro-Environmental Behaviour?  Presentation to the Moray House School of Education doctoral programme.

August 2013 The presence of nature in our cities: an exploration of the virtue of attention from an outdoor educator’s perspective.  Presentation to Moray House School of Education conference Interweaving: connecting educational research within, across and between perspectives.

December 2013 What happens when we uncouple risk from adventure? Perhaps a nod in the direction of environmental sustainability. Presentation to the International Outdoor Education International Research Conference, Dunedin, New Zealand.

December 2013 The presence of nature in our cities: an exploration of the virtue of attention from an outdoor educator’s perspective.  Presentation to the University of Stirling School of Education seminar series.

August 2014 Getting published using practitioner enquiry.  A presentation as part of the Into the Light: Practitioner Enquiry conference hosted by Moray House School of Education, the University of Edinburgh.

April 2015 What's love got to do with it? Probably everything. Presentation to Pathways to the Future. Education for Sustainable Development. Tallinn, Estonia.

September 2015 What's love got to do with it? Probably everything.  Presentation to Moray House School of Education conference Interweaving: connecting educational research within, across and between perspectives.

11/11 2016 From Little Acorns Mighty Oaks sometimes Grow: How Might we Nurture Them?  Presentation to Edge Hill University’s research Forum.

11/9/18 Nicol, R., Rae, A, Murray, R. and Higgins, P. Moving Beyond the Printed Word of Policy to Practice: an Exploration into the Conditions in Which Learning for Sustainability Might Flourish in Initial Teacher Education. Presentation to TEESNets 11th Annual Conference Getting to the Heart of the Sustainable Development Goals: The Role of Teacher Education in Prompting Critical Engagement and Action. Liverpool Hope University.

Participant

21-22 May 1998 HE 21 Best Practice for Sustainabilty Conference, Edinburgh.

12-16 September 1998 Celebrating Diversity- Learning by Sharing Cultural Differences. European Institute for Outdoor Learning conference. Moray House College. Cramond, Edinburgh.

1998 Launch of Learning to Sustain by SEEC.  Playfair library, Edinburgh.

9-10 October 1999 Mike McGowan seminar at Brathay Hall.

2000 Moray House Annual lecture, Tim Brighouse

6 February 2001 Leading Edge Workshop. SNH, Battleby.

30/10/01 SNH conference on biodiversity and education and Speygrian exhibition.

23/11/01 Link Conference, Edinburgh.  Making Links  - Citizens and Sustainability.

21-24 August 2016 Bridging the Gap: REducators and Trainers Upsalla University, Visby, Sweden

More video

In the press

27/10/07 Canoeing Around the Cairngorms: A Circumnavigation of my Home. A presentation to the Scottish Canoe Association annual exhibition.

August 2017. Canoeing Around the Cairngorms: A Circumnavigation of my Home. A presentation for University of Edinburgh staff and students, Edinburgh.

September 2018. Canoeing Around the Cairngorms: A Circumnavigation of my Home. A presentation hosted by Active Outdoor Pursuits, Aviemore.

6-8 October 2017. Canoeing Around the Cairngorms: A Circumnavigation of my Home.  A presentation Musselburgh Book Festival, Edinburgh.

February 2018. Canoeing Around the Cairngorms: A Circumnavigation of my Home.  A presentation to the Winter Words Book Festival. Pitlochry Festival Theatre.

November 2018. Canoeing Around the Cairngorms: A Circumnavigation of my Home.  A presentation to the Edinburgh Radical Book Fair.