Susanne Paulus (PhD student)

Thesis title: Exploring outdoor activities for people with refugee and migrant biographies / Relational processes in an intercultural and inclusive community garden


Susanne Paulus is a doctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh, Moray House School of Education. She holds an MA in Intercultural Education (Free University Berlin) and an MSc in Outdoor Education (University of Edinburgh). In recent years she worked in Switzerland for the National Centre of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development, as well as for the National Youth Council in an advocacy project for minor unaccompanied refugees.

Awards: Professional Career Development Scholarship (University of Edinburgh) for PhD; German Academic Exchange Service Scholarship (DE) and Stevenson Scholarship (UK) for MSc.

Research summary

Diversity & Social Justice Education, Outdoor Learning, Learning for Sustainability, relational approaches to research.

Current research interests

My PhD explores outdoor activity projects which seek to include people with refugee and migrant biographies, and who often are part of ethnic minorities. Several outdoor leisure and environmental education providers across Europe are currently running projects (or have done so in the past) in which they invite refugees and migrants to join outdoor activities in their local environments. Moreover, community education and social service providers in the field of migrant support include outdoor activities in their programmes. Key examples from the grey literature show that these outdoor projects offer a wide range of positive opportunities and impulses for diverse communities and wider society. However, this provision is fragmented and little research has explored its potentials. As a first part of my doctoral dissertation, I conducted a mapping review to provide an overview of currently ongoing projects in Germany, Norway and Scotland. Projects offer a variety of activities such as walking, cycling, conservation work or gardening. They aspire to create spaces of encounter between people, involve those who may be excluded, offer learning opportunities, support sustainable living and promote good health. My second study is an ethnographic case study of an intercultural and inclusive community garden in Germany, in which I dedicate particular attention to aspects of participation and shared learning. The practice I am investigating into is marked by increased socio-cultural, linguistic, religious, socio-economic and ethnic plurality and encompasses a wide range of tensions, but it is exactly these tensions which carry the potential for learning in favour of more inclusive and sustainable communities and spaces.

Knowledge exchange

Publication: Paulus, S. C. (2016). Exploring a pluralist understanding of learning for sustainability and its implications for outdoor education practice. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 16, 117–130.



Affiliated research centres