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Critical Orientations: Indigenous Studies and Outdoor Education

This course supports outdoor educators in engaging with culturally responsive incorporation of indigenous studies concepts into outdoor education curriculum and programming. While outdoor school programs in Oregon serve fifth and sixth grade students, course content applies broadly to all outdoor and experiential education.

Course Overview

Created by Dr. Spirit Brooks and Dr. Leilani Sabzalian, this course introduces the following concepts:

  • Land Acknowledgement
  • Colonization
  • Native Representation in Outdoor Education
  • Sovereignty and Self-Determination
  • Critically analyzing curriculum using the 6 P’s
  • Land-Based Education

What You'll Learn

This course is designed to surface some of the common assumptions and misinformation about Indigenous people and cultures, particularly as they relate to outdoor school in Oregon.

You will:

  • Learn to critically analyze how Indigenous peoples and knowledge are included and represented in outdoor education and the consequences of bias, misrepresentation, and appropriation.
  • Reflect on how Indigenous studies concepts complicate and enrich our practice as outdoor educators.
  • Discover alternative curricular framings and orientations and support peer collaboration to develop ideas for different contexts using curricular self-evaluation tools.

Of course, you do not have involved with 5th or 6th-grade outdoor school to access this course, and its information applies to a broader scope.

On demand. Access any time.
price (2)
Additional Information:
4 CEUs | 4 Credit
On demand access coming soon


Dr. Spirit Brooks

Dr. Spirit Brooks (Cheyenne/Arapaho) is the Research, Evaluation, and Assessment Coordinator for the OSU Extension Outdoor School Program. She earned her PhD from the University of Oregon in Critical Sociocultural Studies in Education in 2017, an M.A. in Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies from OSU, and a B.S. in Political Science with a focus on Environmental Justice from UO. As an educational researcher, Spirit is committed to anti-colonial research practices and committed to social and environmental justice. In her work with the OSU Extension Service Outdoor School Program, she has focused on culturally responsive research that highlights equity, diversity, and inclusion in Outdoor School in Oregon. 

Dr. Leilani Sabzalian

Dr. Leilani Sabzalian (Alutiiq) is an Assistant Professor of Indigenous Studies in Education and the Co-Director of the Sapsik'wałá (Teacher) Education Program at the University of Oregon. Her research focuses on creating spaces to support Indigenous students and Indigenous self-determination in public schools, and preparing teachers to challenge colonialism in curriculum, policy, and practice. She is also dedicated to improving Indigenous education in the state of Oregon by serving on the American Indian/Alaska Native State Advisory Committee and advocating for legislation such as Senate Bill 13, which mandates curriculum on tribal history and sovereignty in all K-12 public schools in Oregon.

Past Students' Work

Take a look at some recent projects our students have created.