The diversity project: an ethnography of social justice experiential education programming

Franklin Vernon*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Whilst adventure-based experiential education traditions have long-standing claims of progressive, democratic learning potential, little research has examined practice from within democratic theories of participation and learning. Focusing on a complex network making up a disturbing interaction in an outdoor education programme, I posit forms of structural management privileging institutional design blockaded democratic forms of interaction when bids arose, while simultaneously identifying the peripheral ‘un-structured’ symbolic spaces beyond the care-gaze of educators as necessary sites of creative emergence. Drawing on the work of Lather [Lather, Patti. 1996. “Troubling Clarity: The Politics of Accessible Language.”Harvard Educational Review 66 (3): 525–546], I explore the peripheral boundaries of traditional ethnographic writing, decentering norms of finality and conclusivity, and invite the reader into a critical interaction with ‘a shifting text’ [Babich, Babette. 1994. Nietzsche's Philosophy of Science: Reflecting Science on the Ground of Art and Life. Albany: State University of New York Press, p. 27] and a chaotic moment in the programme.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)298-315
Number of pages18
JournalEthnography and Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Critical ethnography
  • critical pragmatism
  • critical theory
  • democratic learning
  • experiential learning
  • outdoor education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Education


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