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Doctoral defense in education science: Jakob Frímann Þorsteinsson

Doctoral defense in education science: Jakob Frímann Þorsteinsson - Available at University of Iceland
Tue, 23/04/2024 - 13:00 to 16:00


The Aula in the main building of the University of Iceland.

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Jakob Frímann Þorsteinsson defends his PhD thesis in Educational Sciences from the Faculty of Education and Diversity, University of Iceland:

Affordances of Outdoor Education in Iceland:How nature
contributes to place-based experience, reflection and friendship

The oral defence takes place Tuesday April 23rd., at 1:00 pm in the Aula in the main building of the University of Iceland as well as in live stream.

Opponents are Dr. Karen Seierøe Barfod professor at VIA University College, Danmörku and dr. Chris Loynes, professor emeritus at Cumbria Háskóla í Bretlandi.

Main supervisor was Dr. Jón Torfi Jónasson professor emeritus at the School of Education, University og Iceland.

Co-supervisor was Dr. Gunnar Þór Jóhannesson professor at the School of Engineering and Natural Science, University of Iceland.

Expert in the Doctoral Committee was Dr. Elizabeth Marie Christie professor at the University of Edinburgh.

Dr. Berglind Rós Magnúsdóttir will conduct the ceremony.

All are welcome.

About the project:
The study reported here is essentially in two parts. The principal part is five published papers, framed by a kappa that shows how they connect within the context of Outdoor Education.
The research aims to explore different aspects of outdoor activities in Iceland and highlight some key factors that contribute to its educational value (thus making it Outdoor Education) and simultaneously place it in the context of children's outdoor life. I argue that nature itself takes precedence, but social interaction, personal experiences, place, and reflection are all key components that ensure that the outdoor activities become significant as Outdoor Education, which thus undoubtedly belongs in the realm of good education. The doctoral project as a whole sheds light on a range of Outdoor Education activities that can be found as vital components in leisure and schools, but notably also in tourism.
The overarching concern of this study is to connect and answer three fundamental questions. The study starts from the question of what characterises the discourse about and within Outdoor Education in Iceland, in order to set the stage for an in-depth probing of the field, seen both in the Icelandic and international context. This led to two principal questions, which in turn gave rise to the specific research questions in the five research papers that underpin my study. The second question defines the principal focus of the study and thus the foci of three papers: How does Outdoor Experiential Education in Iceland value and explore issues of place, reflection and friendship in the context of nature? This emphasises that nature is a principal characteristic of the outdoor settings being studied and identifies the three principal dimensions emerging from the studies. The third question brings attention to the children themselves, by asking: How are the outdoor and travel behaviours of children impacted by social and health factors? Thus, the three questions ask and lead to exploration how some of these fundamental values of Outdoor Education relate to the lives of Icelandic children. By doing this the study contributes to the field of Outdoor Education and education more generally by examining the affordances of Outdoor Education in relation to children's outdoor life and their experience of nature. Importantly, it raises questions about the position of Outdoor Education in schools, leisure, and tourism and identifies a need to strengthen its status so that people, especially children, can better enjoy the affordances of Outdoor Experiential Education in nature.
The study is principally comprised of papers published in five academic publications. Paper I, opens the research project by providing theoretical discussion of “sense of place” and associated challenges. Paper II delves further into the discussion about the contextual and practical foundation of pedagogy of place and the understanding of sense of place. Paper III provides an opportunity to place nature and its unpredictability in an educational context and to examines how reflective practice can be used to learn from it. Paper IV analyses the amount of time children spent outside, emphasizing the importance and benefits of outdoor activities, as well as exploring the influential social and economic factors that affect children's outdoor behaviour. Paper V sheds light on young people’s participation in tourism with respect to socioeconomic factors and addresses these factors in the context of domestic travel behaviour, social tourism, and education. The research examines experience in the environs of Reykjavik with the sea and shores as context, and also further away in the mountains and highlands. These different outdoor educational experiences offer different affordances that are valuable in different ways.
The main findings of the research are that the affordances of Outdoor Education relies on three main factors: (1) the discourse about and within Outdoor Education in Iceland; (2) how Outdoor Education activities are facilitated, which includes the companionship (the social environment); the methods applied, such as experiential and reflective approaches (the educational environment), as well as the places and spaces of the educational activities (the natural or physical environment); and (3) the stance taken towards appreciating values or significance of spending time outdoors and participating in outdoor activities and education, especially for children. When these factors are recognized and acknowledge, the affordances of Outdoor Education are significant, and its role in modern education holds high relevance.
A significant concluding chapter presents advice concerning both policy and practice that is inspired by my research work, reflects my pragmatic stance, and is perhaps the motivation for this research journey.

Nature – Place – Leisure – Experience – Outdoor Education

About the doctoral candidate
Jakob Frímann Þorsteinsson was born in 1969 in Reykjavík. He completed his matriculation degree from Menntaskólinn við Sund (1993), a B.Ed degree from the Teachers University of Iceland (1993), diploma in business from Continuing Education University of Iceland (2000) and an MA in Teaching and Learning studies from School of Education (2011). Jakob has worked extensively in the field of education, including in youth centers and compulsary schools in Reykjavík, in business development, tourism, and university teaching in Skagafjörður. He has also worked with the education and training company KVAN. Jakob has worked at the University of Iceland since 2004, conducting research, teaching, and development work in outdoor learning, outdoor recreation, leisure studies, experiential learning, and event management.

Jakob's parents are Ásgerður Bjarnadóttir and Þorsteinn M. Jakobsson. He has three siblings, Unni, Bjarna, and Harald. Jakob is married to Vanda Sigurgeirsdóttir, and they have three children together, Muna, Dísa, and Gunnar.

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Doctoral defense in education science: Jakob Frímann Þorsteinsson