I completed my doctoral studies in DCU in the School of STEM Education, Innovation and Global Studies in Summer 2022, supervised by Dr Orla Kelly and Prof Maeve O Brien. My thesis is titled ‘An Ethnographic Study of Forest School: Relational Caring Pedagogy in an Irish Primary School’.
I was delighted to receive a bursary from CASTel to part-fund me to attend the 9th IOERC conference in Cumbria in July 2022 https://ioerc9.org/ This is a conference that seeks to foster a critical dimension in outdoor studies through promoting research that is informed by wider theoretical frameworks in education.
This was an opportunity to present my work for the first time at an international conference. A daunting prospect for a novice researcher, this was especially true of this conference which is organised as a collective; there are no keynotes and professors of many years standing present alongside novices like me. However, that turned out to be a real highlight. I got to engage with those that heretofore were names on journal articles and reference lists, as well as meeting those, like myself, just starting out.
The opportunity to make international connections was especially powerful for me as Forest School is emergent in Ireland. I also valued the chance to discuss my work in a scholarly and critical but supportive environment, and to avail of the shared wisdom of those present towards my next steps, publishing my work in the scholarly literature.
I have chosen to attach this image of the famous stepping stones on the River Rothay, close to Ambleside where the conference was held. This conference was my stepping stone to the next phase of my research journey.