Historically, Oregon’s outdoor school programs were developed for and by the dominant culture1, and attending outdoor school was a privilege. With the successful adoption of Measure 99, voters made outdoor school a right for all Oregon 5th and 6th grade students. Therefore, the staff, culture, and interdisciplinary curriculum of outdoor school must reflect and embrace the physical, social, and emotional identities of all participants. Systemic-level change to outdoor school is essential to ensure the equitable2 inclusion of all participants, prioritizing the most marginalized identities and communities.
The OSU Extension Service Outdoor School program Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Statement
All Means All
In 2016, Oregon voters overwhelmingly passed legislation to fund outdoor school for ALL of Oregon’s 5th and 6th grade students. As a result of the legislation, the Oregon State University (OSU) Extension Service Outdoor School (ODS) program collaborated to create our mission and vision on a foundation of values of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI). These values are essential to who we are and to what we do.
We lead with equity because equity acknowledges and addresses the histories and structured systems that keep underserved and underrepresented populations from necessary resources. Without equity, we cannot develop a truly diverse and inclusive community. Equity requires an acknowledgment that everyone has different needs, experiences, and opportunities. When we understand this, we allocate resources accordingly so everyone has access to the same outcomes.
Equity is the approach and equality is the desired outcome.
We acknowledge that historic and institutional barriers have kept youth from fully participating in outdoor school3 and that for many, particularly those from the dominant culture, these barriers are hard to see. We strive to foster positive experiences for all students by:
We celebrate the intersectionality4 of all outdoor school participants. As such, we strive to assist in the development of outdoor school experiences where all participants can feel welcome, safe, respected, and free to participate in this transformative experience as their authentic, whole selves.
Equity, diversity, and inclusion are foundational to achieving our vision to create equitable and positive outcomes for every Oregonian through empowering learning experiences. This work will change the structure of outdoor school and improve the experience for all students. We choose to openly engage in an ongoing process of active learning and growth, understanding that this work requires a sustained commitment.
1 Dominant Culture: In a diverse society, the culture that has social, economic, and political power. In the outdoor school community the dominant cultures include white, cis-gender, able-bodied, and protestant.
(Oregon State University Social Justice Education Initiative (2017). Available here.)
2 Equity: The guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. The principle of equity acknowledges that there are historically underserved and underrepresented populations and that providing equal or identical treatment to all does not improve the fairness of these unbalanced conditions.
(UC Berkeley Initiative for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity. “Glossary of Terms.” (2011))
3 For more information regarding the evaluation and assessment of the Outdoor School program, please see the complete Evaluation Reports.
4 Intersectionality: The ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another. Exposing one’s multiple identities can help clarify the ways in which a person can simultaneously experience privilege and oppression.
(African American Policy Forum. “A Primer on Intersectionality”. Available here. )
Please reach out to us if you are interested in a consultation regarding how to fulfill your outdoor school program's
equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts to support the success of all Oregon students.