Alpine environments and environmental sustainability education

Mr Anthony Mangelsdorf1

1La Trobe University

Education ‘in, for and about the outdoors’ is often quoted as a definition for outdoor education – but how much of outdoor education is actually ‘for’ the outdoors? Further, to what degree does outdoor education contribute to creating a sustainable future?

Whilst the imperative for outdoor education to enable sustainability education outcomes is being increasingly discussed, little attention has been paid to the potential role that outdoor experiences in alpine environments might play, by providing direct experiences of ecosystems changing as a result of climate change.

Due to its limited size, predicted reductions in seasonal snow cover and endemic species, the Australian alpine environment is a powerful harbinger of a changing climate. Species that depend on alpine environments for survival, such as the Mountain Pygmy Possum, can be viewed as ‘alpine climate refugees’, and the alpine environments themselves provide opportunities for direct experience of ‘disappearing islands’ of ecological significance.

This presentation will discuss the author’s current research into two secondary alpine outdoor education programs on the Bogong High Plains (Victoria), using a ‘change model for sustainable outdoor education’ (Hill, 2012) as a lens to examine opportunities within these alpine outdoor education programs to contribute towards a sustainable future for Australia.


Anthony first really connected with the alpine environment as a secondary student while bushwalking in the (then) Wonnangatta-Moroka National Park. This relationship has developed into a lifelong passion for the environment and living sustainably on the planet.

While chasing ways to pursue this passion professionally, Anthony has completed degrees in Planning and Design, and Architecture, and Graduate Diplomas in Outdoor Education and Secondary Education. This has led to work in architecture, outdoor education, design and technology education, environmental education and local community sustainability. Anthony is currently an Associate Lecturer, and is also undertaking a Master of Outdoor and Environmental Education (by Research), at La Trobe University Bendigo.

Anthony believes that the way we relate to and understand the world affects the way we treat the world, and is committed to using his skills and experience as an outdoor environmental educator and sustainability facilitator to enable people to develop environmental and sustainability literacy, and to connect with nature, so that we can create a positive future.

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