Alistair Stewart

alistair stewart

Lecturer in outdoor and environmental education, Faculty of Education

 Since Alistair Stewart joined La Trobe in 1998, the University’s offerings in outdoor and environmental education have expanded from two courses to six, covering a wide range of qualifications. Graduates take on a diverse set of roles with schools, corporate and community groups, and government authorities.

In terms of outdoor education, Alistair says what sets La Trobe apart is its focus on using outdoor experiences to gain knowledge and understanding, rather than simply participating in outdoor activities for their own sake. ‘In outdoor environmental education, our focus is on using different ways of moving around an environment to learn about its natural and cultural history,’ he explains.

One example of this approach is a three-week trip down the Murray River, in which students primary travel by canoe. ‘Ecologically, the Murray has declined over the past 200 years as it has become industrialised, so we look at issues such as the impact on the Murray cod, the introduction of weirs and locks along the river, and the overall relationship between humans and the river’s flora and fauna,’ Alistair says.

The trip begins at Ned’s Corner in northwest Victoria, introducing a conservation property that also has a grazing and Indigenous history. From there, the group moves gradually down the river, visiting sites including a restored wetland at Banrock Station and Camp Coorong, where they spend time with local Aboriginal people. The trip culminates at the mouth of the river where a commercial fisherman discusses how the river has changed from his perspective. 

Alistair has recently finished his PhD reflecting on his own teaching practice, and says these opportunities to teach students in outdoor environments are hugely important to his work. 

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