The Outdoor Education program prepares students for the profession of teaching in and about the outdoor environment. Students are educated in leadership and management issues, risk management program design, educational philosophy, teaching techniques, and communication and wilderness skills. The program also advocates personal growth and community and environmental justice and promotes a stewardship philosophy toward the land, water, and living systems on Earth.
The four Outdoor Education concentrations at Northland College are:
Natural History Therapeutic and Universal Design
Native American Studies
The faculty is committed to promoting academic excellence, interdisciplinary studies, and the pedagogies of environmental education, outdoor education, service learning, reflection, and oral tradition. Finally, the program integrates outdoor education studies and environmental liberal arts studies. Outdoor education graduates work in state and national parks, nature centers, zoos, wilderness adventure businesses, and therapeutic outdoor programs.
Unique to the Outdoor Education program, students majoring in Outdoor Education-Natural History can attach a Wisconsin teacher licensure in Environmental Studies-Secondary Education. While students majoring in Outdoor Education-Therapeutic and Universal Design can attach a Wisconsin teacher licensure in Alternative Education-Secondary Education.
Also unique to Northland College, the Outdoor Education program offers three significant groupings of courses: Freshman Block, Fall Interpretive Block, and Winter Therapeutic Block. The optional Freshman Block is taken fall session of the freshman year and combines an Introduction to Outdoor Education course with other courses in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities to give students an overview
of outdoor education while they are completing certain liberal education requirements. Outdoor education majors are not required to take Freshman Block, but during their junior or senior years, they are required to participate in either Fall Interpretive Block or Winter Therapeutic Block.
Fall Interpretive Block takes place at the Audubon Center of the North Woods in Sandstone, Minnesota, and focuses on natural and cultural history interpretation, outdoor teaching techniques, environmental education, field interpretation, and leadership.
Winter Therapeutic Block focuses on outdoor education teaching techniques, leadership, and program design and development in prescriptive and adaptive contexts. Students design and implement outdoor education programs and teach people of all ages and abilities. Winter Therapeutic Block students spend the first part of the session on campus preparing and teaching classes and activities for local school children. They also spend ten days in Colorado as volunteer adaptive ski instructors for the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center and three weeks in an off-campus practicum.