Monday, 24 March 2014

A letter from Professor Lynn Anderson

New York State University's Professor Lynn Anderson recently took part in our public debate - 'Access v the Environment - where do you draw the line?'

Professor Anderson has kindly sent a letter about her time with us in Preston: "I write to formally thank you for the wonderful opportunity to visit the University of Central Lancashire as a part of the Distinguished Visitor Programme. I very much enjoyed meeting with faculty, staff, and especially students as a part of my visit to your campus.

"I was impressed with the Outdoor students who attended several of the sessions I presented during the week. The students had interesting ideas and stimulating contributions to discussions, as well as thought-provoking questions.

"I felt there was great benefit comparing and contrasting our fields of study between our two countries, both for the students and for myself and other faculty. I was pleased to see the large number of students who attended the public talk I gave, 'Going Outdoors: The Therapeutic Benefits of Nature.'

"The students seemed highly engaged in the topic and some have requested follow up information from the talk.I especially thank you all for your wonderful hospitality I received throughout my stay. Your graciousness was truly appreciated, and I could not have had a more enjoyable stay.

"If there is anything I can do in follow up to my visit, please let me know. Again, thank you for an exceptional experience at the University of Central Lancashire as a Distinguished Visitor."

UCLan Outdoors wishes to thank Professor Anderson for visiting us and we hope to continue to develop our collaboration in the future.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Scottish Winter Skills Enhancement

Our students recently tackled the Scottish Winter Skills Enhancement course as part of their studies.

Two of the group - Hannah Smith and Jack Whiteside - have provided UCLan Outdoors with a record of their time in Scotland.

Jack's video can be viewed above, while to read Hannah's blog please click here.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Students team up with BMX champion

Adventure Sports Coaching students and a BMX junior champion have teamed up as part of a mutually beneficial collaboration.

UCLan Outdoor undergraduates Peter Haggan and Karl Doneraki are helping Ross Cullen with strength & conditioning and nutritional advice, as he strives to progress to the top of his chosen sport.

After dominating the UK national series, Ross became a force to be reckoned with on the Euro circuit during 2013, consistently making A-finals.

He was one of 14 young athletes from across Lancashire to be awarded a grant and support from UCLan through the 'Rising Stars' programme.

Associate Lecturer Keith McGregor said: "Following the Division's recent link up with young climber Connor Byrne, this is another excellent opportunity for our students to work with one of the country's most exciting sporting prospects.

"We're delighted to be able to assist Ross and hope we can help him achieve his ambitions of success at world level."

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Access v the Environment - Where do you draw the line?

(L-R) Lynn, Jamie, Robin & Kathryn
This interesting and current question was the topic of discussion at a debate hosted during February by the Outdoors Team and the SSTO's Sustainability Lead at the University of Central Lancashire.

The event was chaired by UCLan's Professor Richard Sharpley and heard presentations from Professor Lynn Anderson (New York State University), Jamie McPhie (Cumbria University), Robin Horner (RSPB) and Kathryn Beardmore (North Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority).

Students and members of the public heard the speakers' perspectives live and online and asked the panel questions. Those online tweeted or emailed their questions whilst watching the debate live on the internet. The perspectives of the speakers were summarised by one of the audience:

"Professor Lynn Anderson drew the starting line by proposing a biocentric approach using evidence from her outdoors work with persons with disabilities. She saw access to wilderness experiences as essential for everyone but stated that it should be 'wilderness on wilderness'' terms rather than incorporating any modifications (e.g., footpaths, jetties) to facilitate access.

"Robin Horner took the perspective that access should be seen as a balance and a privilege. Whilst vital to allow access to nature, consideration must be given to the different tolerances and needs of species within the natural environment when making access decisions.

"Robin shared the RSPB decision not to open certain areas of Morecambe Bay to walkers due to the lower numbers of protective bird species found in the open access areas. Yet other areas, e.g., Leighton Moss, enable easy access for most visitors to view other species that are more tolerant to sharing habitats with humans.

"Kathryn Beardmore discussed the Yorkshire Dales National Park as a 'lived-in landscape' (in contrast to the wilderness areas found in the USA). A non-exclusive perspective on access was exemplified with slides of Malham and its footpaths, shops and cafes.

"Yet the expressed need of many users for unspoilt, peaceful outdoor experiences was the justification given by YDNP for reevaluating its policy on vehicular access to Green Lane, in which the most sensitive lanes have been restricted to non-motorised transport only.

"The final speaker, Jamie McPhie, took a contentious academic perspective on the dialectic of oppression and privilege in which affluence is seen as enabling access, and conservation agendas as excluding vast numbers of people from our natural environments.

"His position was based on a belief that, if we recognise that we are in a crisis situation ("the 6th mass extinction") and are given responsibility for access to our natural environment, we will be able to work out ways of living more sustainably within our environment."

The event brought up many interesting, and difficult, questions and after the event the discussions continued online, in the audience, with the speakers and hosts and with the students in subsequent lectures. Thank you to all the speakers and the team of students who helped out during the event.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Students brave the elements

Undergraduates from our Outdoor programme have been honing their skills in the Scottish mountains.

Based at a bunkhouse in Fort William, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students spent a week climbing in the areas Glencoe and Cairngorms led by instructors Sam Leary and Stephen Saddler.

The group faced some extremely challenging conditions, with winds in excess of 50mph and a high risk of avalanche all week, but they remained professional and focused throughout.

Sam commented: "The students brought so much energy and enthusiasm to the week which really helped make it. They were a real credit to themselves and the University. I'm really impressed with what they achieved given the weather and avalanche forecasts."