Professor. Pete Higgins
Peter’s early career was as an environmental scientist and freshwater and fisheries biologist, before training as a teacher and working in outdoor education in the UK and overseas. He is currently Professor of Outdoor and Environmental Education in the University of Edinburgh, and teaches academic and practical elements of these fields. He is a Dean in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences with specific responsibilities for enhancing the student learning experience. He is a member of a number of national and international panels and advisory groups on outdoor and sustainability education and holds a wide range of high-level teaching qualifications in outdoor activities.
Peter has acted in advisory capacity to Ministers and Members of Parliament (Scotland, UK and European Union), and the UK and Scottish Governments on outdoor education, environmental education, sustainable development education, access to the countryside and related environmental issues; and has given evidence to several Parliamentary Committees, including the 2004/5 House of Commons, Education and Skills Committee enquiry into ‘Education Outside the Classroom’ and the Scottish Parliament Education and Culture Committee’s enquiry into outdoor learning in 2013.
In 2008 he was appointed by the Minister of the Environment as the external member of the 2008 Review of the Scottish National Parks Act. Throughout the period since the opening of the Scottish Parliament he has advised ministers, Education Scotland and other agencies on the development of outdoor education, and was a lead author of the current policy guidance from Education Scotland – ‘Curriculum for Excellence through Outdoor Learning’.
In 2011 he was appointed to Chair a Scottish Government Ministerial Advisory Committee on ‘One Planet Schools’. Its report, called ‘Learning for Sustainability’, was accepted in full by Scottish Ministers in March 2013, and from February 2014 Peter will co-Chair the Implementation Group. He is the Scottish representative on the UNESCO programme ‘Reorienting Teacher Education to Address Sustainable Development’, and is Director of the United Nations recognised ‘Regional Centre of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development’ for Scotland which he established with colleagues across Scotland in 2012.
Peter and his colleagues have conducted extensive research on the benefits of outdoor education and have brought forward conceptual arguments that have both emphasised the benefits of local, place-based learning and the relationship between outdoor learning experiences and learning for sustainability. He is author of several books and has published over 100 articles on the theory, philosophy and practice of outdoor education, particularly in relation to environmental and sustainability education. Most recently, he jointly wrote the UK Commission for UNESCO review of ESD in the UK, the chapters on ‘Outdoor Education’ and ‘Sustainable Development Education’ in the definitive text on education in Scotland (‘Scottish Education’ – edited by Bryce et al., 2013) and co-authored ‘Learning Outside the Classroom’ (Routledge).