The Association for Experiential Education

2016 Keynote: Richard Louv

The Association for Experiential Education will host best-selling Author, Richard Louv as the 2016 conference Keynote on October 27, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Louv2016Eric B. DynowskiRichard Louv is a journalist and author of nine books about the connections between family, na
ture and community. His book THE NATURE PRINCIPLE: Reconnecting with Life in a Virtual Age  offers a new vision of the future, in which our lives are as immersed in nature as they are in technology. This future, available to all of us right now, offers better psychological, physical and spiritual health for people of every age.

LAST CHILD IN THE WOODS: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, translated into 15 languages and published in 20 countries, has stimulated an international conversation about the relationship between children and nature. Louv is co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Children & Nature Network (, an organization helping build the movement to connect today’s children and future generations to the natural world. Louv coined the term Nature-Deficit Disorder® which has become the defining phrase of this important issue.

For more information, visit

To register for the conference, visit

Prince to Headline 2016 AEE Conference


April Fools! Although Prince is a Minneapolis native and really wanted to be a part of our conference, our planning committee decided to go in a different direction for entertainment to fit in with our Northwoods Flannel Fest theme (Prince refused to wear a flannel). 

The good news – Registration for the 44th Annual International Conference is open! 

You can now go here to register for the 44th Annual International Conference to be hosted in Minneapolis, Minnesota October 27-30, 2016. While you won’t get to see Prince perform at our conference you will get over 100 workshops, keynotes, receptions, countless networking opportunities and one big blow-out Friday night bash!

At AEE, we aim to inspire collaboration among individuals with different backgrounds and perspectives, connect experiential education professionals around the world and build your professional knowledge and competency. With more than 700 practitioners, teachers, therapists, facilitators, trainers, students and administrators in attendance, the AEE International Conference is your #1 opportunity to connect, share and grow.

Register now and use the coupon code 44EarlyBird to save an additional $25 on registration!


Workshop Highlight – Tara Flippo: Social Justice Education in 3D: Activities for Dialogue, Discussion and Discovery


Tara Flippo is one of the names that first pops to mind when I think of AEE and social justice education.  Tara has been presenting on social justice topics for over 15 years at AEE conferences both in the NE region and at the International conference.  Tara’s presentation: Social Justice Education in 3D: Activities for Dialogue, Discussion and Discovery, focuses on putting the activity and action-based component back into social justice work.

When talking to Tara about her presentation and the “three D’s” she explained that she saw them as a sort of continuum of the learning experience from discussion to discovery.  “Discussion is sometimes the entry point,” Tara noted, “where we aren’t ruffling too many feathers and we’re talking about the subjects without getting too personal.”  Dialogue, she went on to explain, is about a more exploratory co-creational process where we are willing to have a conversation and not know exactly where we are going to end up.  In social justice work this can be deeply challenging or intimidating but also necessary for that last part of the continuum which is discovery.

When connecting with Tara what she thought of the theme of the conference this year being, “Social Justice: Creating Change” she said that it was very heartening to see social justice be put so front and center by the AEE community.  “Social justice has always been part of the AEE mission and value system, and it is also wonderful to have that focus and to be bringing attention to the importance of that goal with the theme.”  Tara continued that she’d like to see the AEE community continue to, “embrace and explore how we make and see social justice as being relevant and important to our work.”

Participants of Tara’s workshop at the conference can anticipate a lot of co-creational, interactive activities focused on exploration of social justice concepts and terms and increasing their own knowledge around how to do experiential education while maintaining a social justice lens. This workshop is open to all, no prior knowledge or experience with the subject is needed!

Learn more about Tara and her social justice work on her website – Social Change Training and Consulting and give her a like on Facebook!

Read more about the all the workshops that will be presented and facilitated at the AEE International Conference in Portland, OR (Oct 22nd-24th) this year here!

Author:  Meg Bolger – co-creator of The Safe Zone Project and co-author of the forthcoming Guide to Facilitation

Workshop Highlight – Current Developments in Adventure Therapy: What Works and Why is this Important?

gassgillisMike Gass, recipient of the AEE’s Distinguished Career Research Award, Lee Gillis who has presented at the last quarter century of AEE conferences, and their esteemed colleagues Christine Norton, Anita Tucker, Keith Russell, and Steve Javorski are coming together in their 2015 AEE International presentation: Current Developments in Adventure Therapy: What Works and Why is this Important. The team will be presenting their research on how the field of Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH) can and must continue to validate its effectiveness through empirically conducted research and reports.  The team will be engaging with the participants in the workshop to facilitate a dialogue around how those passionate about the purpose, population, and possibilities of OBH programs can use current research to communicate its effectiveness to others including parents and folks in the insurance industry.

When speaking to Mike Gass about the importance of this presentation Mike communicated that we live in a time period where there has been a real push toward evidence based research and a need for more folks in adventure therapy and OBH to be able to communicate these findings in order to advocate for the field.  Mike talked about his excitement around the team’s new website which is a hub for folks in OBH and adventure therapy to gain access to the latest research in order to help them validate, substantiate and provide evidence in regards to the effectiveness of their programs.

“There are a lot of gatekeepers to our research and our findings,” Mike noted when speaking to him about the importance of the website, “we want to make access to our publications and research as easy and open as possible.”

The presentation at AEE will feature the research scientists from the not only presenting their research and findings but engaging folks who are in the field on how to use this knowledge to its maximum potential.  Mike noted that being able to use this research to communicate to insurance companies the validity of the practices allowed adventure therapy and OBH to become more accessible to more folks.  “It’s exciting to think that because of the research and findings that we have, and our abilities to communicate it, that we can allow more folks and families to access these treatments.”

Mike encourages folks to explore and to come on out to the AEE workshop presentation to engage with the team and have what is sure to be a profound and impactful dialogue with the group!  Who doesn’t wanna spend some time with these folks!

Read more about the all the workshops that will be presented and facilitated at the AEE International Conference in Portland, OR (Oct 22nd-24th) this year here!

Author:  Meg Bolger – co-creator of The Safe Zone Project and co-author of the forthcomingGuide to Facilitation

Workshop Highlight – Megan Bolger: (Trans*)Gender Inclusive Programming: How to Create an Inclusive Environment and Maximize Experiences for All

DSC_6889After speaking with Megan Bolger about her upcoming workshop at the AEE International Conference in Portland I have to say I am incredibly excited to see all that she has to bring to the discussion around social justice and Experiential Education.

Megan Bolger is a social justice entrepreneur, co-creator of the Safe Zone Project, co-author of the forthcoming Guide to Facilitation, and founder of Pride for All. She is a passionate social justice educator, trainer, and facilitator who’s always on the move. A self-proclaimed Social Justice kid, Meg has been working for seven years facilitating and educating on issues related to gender, sexuality and social justice. In this workshop Meg and her co-presenter, Perry Cohen will share narrative research on how trans and or gender non-conforming (GNC) students navigate outdoor education programs; highlighting successes and challenges unique to this population.

What to expect in the workshop: Review research, vocabulary focusing on gender, sex, gender presentation and sexual orientation; talk about common practices that may exclude individuals; strategize ways to create inclusive hiring and supportive environments and ways to communicate support of GNC and Trans students to clients and parents.

What will you take away? That’s up to you! But you should expect to gain a higher level of preparedness when working with and supporting your trans and GNC participants and students.

Author: Caitlin Leahy, Association for Experiential Education

Workshop Highlight – Karen Warren: Social Justice Allies in Adventure Programs

KarenWarrenKaren Warren may be the first name that many of us in the experiential education think of when we think of EE and social justice.  The 2014 Kurt Hahn addressee Karen will be continuing to share her passion and commitment to social justice with the AEE community at the 2015 conference with her presentation, “Social Justice Allies in Adventure Programs.”

Social justice allyship has been a hot topic this year not just within the AEE community but throughout the American media and many of our communities.  When speaking with Karen about her definition of allyship Karen shared that, a social justice ally is a person from a dominant group who acts in support of those from groups that experience discrimination and oppression.”  Karen went on to highlight that, “allyship has the potential to be mutually beneficial to both groups.  Allies question their unearned and often unconscious privilege in attempts to seek justice for all.”

Karen’s workshop promises to be a space where attendees will not only be able to become knowledgeable about the concepts of social justice and ally identity development, but will also be a space for attendees to practice productive allyship behaviors.  Having that opportunity to engage with new behaviors while in a controlled environment with others who are there to expand and learn is all too rare and incredibly important for our own social justice journey’.

Karen shared that she is most excited to use this workshop as an opportunity to be part of the social justice conversation happening at AEE this year and about social justice being given an even stronger platform through the theme this year.  As Karen spoke to in her Kurt Hahn address last year, “the field of experiential education risks being irrelevant unless we steadfastly address issues of social justice in our practice and organizations.”  Karen shared with me that she believes, “experiential educators are very energetic and resourceful people with strong commitments to do what is right,” and it is with that spirit in mind that she hopes to bring more tools and frameworks to the AEE community.

This workshop is open to all, regardless of prior exposure or knowledge level with social justice allyship or topics.  This workshop is one of the many this year that is so closely aligned with the conference’s theme: “Social Justice: Creating Change” that it has the words right in the title.  If you are looking for a place to begin or continue your own social justice journey Karen’s workshop is sure to be a great space.

Read more about Karen at –

Author – Megan Bolger

Keynote – Dr. Caprice Hollins: Cultural Competence in the 21st Century

2010-07-02_416Before we begin, there is one thing you should know about me.  When I get excited about something, I cannot contain it.  I am compelled to express and share my excitement with whomever is willing to listen.  Right now I am feeling downright giddy about the Social Justice theme of this year’s International  Conference and our keynote speaker, Dr. Caprice Hollins.  I recently had the privilege of speaking with Dr. Hollins and was struck by her warm tone and openness to discuss just about anything.  I saw the same qualities in a recording of her speech at the 2013 Northwest Public Employees Diversity Conference.  I was especially inspired by her ability to balance her personal passion and drive while creating an atmosphere of acceptance and compassion.  I am truly looking forward to the opportunity to meet her in person and hear her speak, and I can’t wait to attend her workshop on cultural competency as well.  Given that Social Justice is the theme of this conference, I am hopeful that we will all be able dig deep within ourselves as well as learn from the experiences of others in order to help deal with some of the very real issues we must face as educators.  This year’s workshop roster will touch on topics such as access to resources, bullying, creating inclusive environments for transgender students, working with marginalized populations, and so much more.  The AEE community is full of progressive and innovative educators and having us all in the same place provides such an amazing opportunity to learn and grow.  I truly believe that this will be one of our best conferences yet!

Author – Dan Miller, Director of Professional Development and Standards
The Association for Experiential Education

Symposium on EE in the Digital Age – Engagement in the Digital Age

Today I got a chance to speak with Andrew Potter, CAO of Envision, one of the nation’s leading experiential education organizations.   What most excites him (and us) about his presentation “Engagement in the Digital Age” is the chance to assist educators in advocating for experiential learning in their classrooms by backing up their practices with research.  The good news for those of us that are passionate about advocating for student engagement is that the research clearly shows that if you can drive up student engagement, you drive up learning.    One particular study he mentioned “The Nature of Learning” published in 2010 by OECD, points out that research in neuroscience shows that the human brain is wired to interact.  Deep learning requires interaction with other human beings.   That being said, our Global economy, and the huge advantages we have made in technology over just the past 10 years have completely changed the way we use technology in the classroom.  The challenge is to use the technology as a resource for deeper learning, not as an end in itself.   How are we as educators harnessing the incredible technology at our fingertips to enhance student engagement?  Andrew has some good answers and some great insights on this front, and I look forward to hearing what he as to say, and to the discussion that his research will spark among us.

Author: Sandy Keldsen, the Center for Team Learning at Boston University Questrom School of Business

Symposium on EE in the Digital Age – Wander, Wonder, Wilderness: Using Interactive Technology to Engage with Nature in an Urban Environment

I had a great conversation this morning with visual artist Paul Turano about his latest project, “Wonder, Wander, Wilderness”, a film, website and mobile application installation that uses interactive technology to encourage people to engage with nature by exploring the urban green spaces of greater Boston.   Inspired by the book “Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv, which explores the psychological effects of city dwellers being deprived of green spaces, Paul wanted to create something that would encourage people living in urban settings to get out and connect with nature.   His project includes the creation of a free mobile application (to be released this summer) that sends users by weekly prompts to explore specific urban green spaces.  The application includes directions to the outdoor site, and encourages users to put their mobile device away, interact with the environment, and then record the experience after the fact with pictures, sound recordings, and or text.    Upon hearing this aspect, I liked it to the application My Fitness Pal, which does much the same thing for exercise as his application does for nature.  People can share their experiences, and thus motivate others to do the same.  He liked the analogy, and he is looking forward to discussions with educators on the possible ways his mobile app could be used as a location based educational tool, allowing instructors to create learning modules for students to explore the ecology of a specific site.  If you attend his session at the Symposium, in addition to getting to see first hand what the mobile application can do, Paul will also show excerpts from the Film portion of his installation, which premiered at the ICA  (Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston) this past September.  The website portion of his project includes a community gallery of peoples experiences in urban greenspaces.  You can find out more about his project at his website

Author: Sandy Keldsen, the Center for Team Learning at Boston University Questrom School of Business

Blog at

Up ↑