Recent events including the pandemic and COP26 have made us acutely aware of the importance of the natural world to our existence as human beings. As a society, we need to connect with our environment and commit to educating children, adult learners and leaders about the importance of nature and our place within it.

That's why QMU is creating an outdoor learning hub which will present outstanding opportunities for the local community, teachers and people across Scotland to come together in natural environments.

The new Outdoor Learning Hub will support sustainable access to the natural world for the University’s staff and students, the local community and Scotland’s teaching professionals.

Taking the form of an all-weather outdoor space, the Hub will be located within the University’s campus grounds.

It will be a space to connect people and support teachers and leaders in the evolving area of outdoor learning, with various courses leading to professional qualifications.

Patrick Boxall, Lecturer in Initial Teacher Education at QMU, is leading the project. He explained:

“The natural world is central to our lives as human beings and has immeasurable positive impact on our health, wellbeing and the sustainability of our planet. As educators we need to see the outdoors as a place to nurture our wellbeing, for creative learning across the curriculum, community connection and leadership development. That’s why we are embedding outdoor learning in our teacher education courses at both undergraduate level on our BA (Hons) Education Studies (Primary), and at postgraduate level on our PGDE Secondary (Home Economics).”

Patrick confirmed:

“We are now extending this commitment to outdoor learning by creating the Outdoor Learning Hub.

We are preparing different outdoor learning spaces and using digital platforms to extend the Hub’s learning opportunities to students, educators, community groups and professional partners in Scotland and beyond. The Hub will become a place to connect people and communities, to enhance our wellbeing, and a space for creative learning, research and professional development."

The project is being delivered through collaboration with Architecture & Design Scotland, Scotland’s design champion.

Danny Hunter, Principal Architect at A&DS commented: “The project will create a centre for local and national engagement in outdoor learning practice, leadership, and professional development.

It will equip current and future teachers, community educators and volunteer leaders with the knowledge and skillset to confidently use outdoor spaces and places to enhance the learner journey of young people across Scotland.”

The Landscape Architecture team at Wardell Armstrong are working with the charity

Learning Through Landscapes (LTL) on the design.

Natalie Murray from Wardell Armstrong said:

“Our aspiration is for the Hub to not only offer a great teaching and learning space, but for it also to become a platform for collaboration, campus experience and a place for the students to benefit from being close to nature.”

Find out more about the Outdoor Learning Hub