Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 319–330 | Cite as

The relational, the critical, and the existential: three strands and accompanying challenges for extending the theory of environmental education

  • Sean Blenkinsop
  • Daniel Ford
Original paper


This paper begins with a very short overview of the environmental and educational challenges that exist today. It proceeds through three pedagogical strands – the relational, the critical, and the existential – that have been woven through the practices of many outdoor and environmental educators for the last 60 years. After each strand is described the paper offers a considered push with the goal of inspiring possibility and taking pedagogy further. Each push is described within the context of a Wild Pedagogies touchstone. The conclusion suggests that gathering all three strands, along with their proposed extensions, offers some promise towards responding to the global environmental challenges at hand. In fact, what might be needed is a comprehensive educational practice that draws best practices from all three along with their respective rich amalgam of skills. The paper ends with a call to outdoor and environmental educators.


Wild pedagogies Relational Critical Existential Cultural change Environmental education 



The authors would like to acknowledge the tremendous amount of time and expertise that was offered us by our three anonymous reviewers. This paper is significantly better as a result.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Outdoor Education Australia 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sean is a professor of education at Simon Fraser University in VancouverVancouverCanada

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