Leave No Trace and Sustainability Education: Taking a Dialectical Approach


  • Chris North University of Canterbury
  • Hannah Berning
  • Te Hurinui Karaka-Clarke
  • B. Derrick Taff




outdoor education, pedagogy, sustainability, minimum impact practices


Leave No Trace (LNT) is globally the most widely accepted minimum impact program and has been linked to behavior change and the maintenance of a range of ecological measures. Critiques of LNT have emerged, including that LNT ignores wider impacts that contribute to climate change and diverse world views. Many outdoor education students carefully follow LNT practices. When students encounter these critiques, they often conclude either that LNT is effective and the detractors are misplaced or that LNT should be abandoned, thereby avoiding deep engagement. Education must prepare students for the contested project of creating a sustainable future. We argue that LNT shows considerable promise as a context for learning through dialectical approaches where students must engage with divergent articles and examples. LNT can be used to help students understand that taking informed action is important. LNT can also be used to show that there are no innocent actions.  



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Special Issue: Fostering a Culture of Sustainability through Outdoor Recreation