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The Americanization of Kurt Hahn’s Values: Commentary on “Outward Bound and Civic Minded”

Jayson Seaman


This commentary discusses a 2019 JOREL article by Cheryl Bolick and Ryan Nilsen that reported on a study of the way Outward Bound participants came to define public service after their courses. The present essay elaborates on the “pluralistic” view of service, which they found to be prevalent. This view can be contrasted with Outward Bound founder Kurt Hahn’s “traditionalistic” view based in muscular Christianity. The commentary here argues that the pluralistic view is an artifact of Outward Bound USA’s affiliation with the human potential movement in the 1970s and is aligned with the civic tradition known as expressive individualism.

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Outdoor education; Outward Bound; public service; human potential movement; educational history

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