Outward Bound and Civic-Minded: The Impact of an Outward Bound Course on Students’ Understanding of and Experiences With Public Service


  • Cheryl Mason Bolick University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Ryan Nilsen University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill




outdoor education, civic learning, Civic-Minded Graduate, higher education, public service


Research on individuals’ experiences engaging in outdoor education programs suggests participants are impacted in a number of ways. This study investigated the impact of participation in a wilderness education course on undergraduates’ experiences with public service. This study asked the research question, what is the impact of an Outward Bound course on students’ understanding of and experiences with public service? Participants (n = 109) were undergraduate students who completed a 28-day Outward Bound course between 2002 and 2017. Qualitative data that informed the study included interviews, impact statements, and survey responses. The findings demonstrate a relationship between an outdoor education experience and public service, which can be understood most clearly through considering the development of knowledge, skills, dispositions, and behavioral intention associated with the Civic-Minded Graduate.

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Author Biographies

Cheryl Mason Bolick, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Associate Professor

School of Education

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Ryan Nilsen, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Program Officer, Student Programs

Carolina Center for Public Service


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