Learning Strategies for Wilderness Entrepreneurship Education

During the IP, a large variety of learning methodologies were used, such as lectures, meetings with local people and stakeholders, field visits, group work, scenario simulation, roleplaying and informal conversations. When participants were asked what made learning interesting and effective, most participants pointed out the variety of people and perspectives. This was expressed in excursions, open discussions and group work and not so very much in lectures. Most of the participants favour the “untraditional” approach when explaining interesting and effective learning. Participants gave some critique on the lecturing activities, which were sometimes copies of formal academic lectures. Even though for most lectures the location was not in a school, the set-up was similar to formal educational settings. Lecturers suggested more interactive lectures and discussions, to prevent long days with traditional lectures.

Both students and lecturers considered that the programme would gain from more reflection and enhanced connections between the various activities. They noted that they would like the programme to be less or differently intensive, but recognised at the same time that this intensiveness was important for not getting distracted. It created a sense of connection with the local issues and an atmosphere where innovation could take place.

During the programme several moments were built in for students to engage with local stakeholders. These engagements consisted mostly of students receiving information from the stakeholders to get them acquainted with the local situation. The information flow between students and stakeholders was reversed during the final presentations of the students' business models to which the local community was invited (Fig. 10.3). The media attention for the IP, with broadcasts on several Portuguese television stations and dissemination on various websites, can be labelled as another form of stakeholder interaction. IP participants also recommended diversifying engagement with the local community, as this quote from a lecturer ex-emplifies: “To amplify our cross-pollination I would add more informal gatherings, particular with youngsters, using the school and the teachers as gate-keepers.”

Learning Environments for Wilderness Entrepreneurship Education

The physical learning environment during the IP was the Rewilding Europe pilot area in Western Iberia, as it was assumed that being present in an area where conservation NGOs actively experiment with wilderness entrepreneurship would enhance the learning process. It gave participants the chance to observe and experience the landscape, and to communicate with the stakeholders involved. Students praised this aspect, expressing that the fact that they 'were there' was of major importance. Nonetheless, lecturers stated that the programme, the area, and the stakeholders require sound introduction. As a matter of fact, they observed that 'being there' and 'talking to stakeholders' did not automatically lead to a good understanding of the situation. Although field visits and excursions occupied a considerable part of the programme, a significant amount of time was spent between walls for lectures, workshops and presentations. This provoked some critique especially from lecturers as they assumed that the IP provided a very conducive outdoor environment with unique opportunities which are most appreciated by students. The regular indoor confinement was considered as a sub-optimal use of the available learning environment.

The IP offered a rich social learning environment (causing students to work on their social competences) because of the variety of learning methodologies applied, and the fact that participating students and lecturers were from many different nationalities and educational backgrounds. Another aspect of the social learning environment was the importance of a common language, which was English in this case. A student explained: “I learned that it is hard to communicate when not all the people can speak English. Especially when you have to work with each other.” Difficulties were most significant during the group work of students. They experienced limited language proficiency as the inability to express oneself clearly in English or working with someone who is not able to do so. Lecturers indicated that considering the language issues, time is needed for setting the scene, respecting cultural and contextual requirements, as well as considering the diversity of roles that define the learning experience.

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