Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 199–216 | Cite as

Escaping to nature to learn: emotional highs of adult learners

  • Sandris ZeivotsEmail author
Original Paper


This study examines the role of nature in relation to emotional highs in adult learning. Hermeneutic phenomenology was used as an overarching methodology and contained both descriptive and interpretive elements. The methodology enabled access to an exploration of the phenomenon with further interpretation of the experiences of the 21 adults who participated in one of three outdoor learning courses. As a part of the findings, three emerging themes are discussed: nature as a sense of escape; learning in nature; and sense of therapy in emotional highs. The study found that nature profoundly affected the experiences of the participants and at times operated as a co-therapist to foster unique learning opportunities. Nature was seen by participants as a learning environment where temporary escape from one’s customary life is possible. Sense of escape in the education settings was found beneficial because it enabled participants, as learners, to get away from life’s usual distractions and routines, and with available time and permission to reflect – to become someone else. This in turn positively affected learning capacity as participants re-connected with themselves without being bound to familiar and taken-for-granted practices.


Nature Emotional highs Outdoor learning Wilderness Therapeutic Positive emotions 


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 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of International Studies and Education, Faculty of Arts & Social SciencesUniversity of Technology SydneyUltimoAustralia

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