CALL FOR PRESENTATIONS

The 2021 International Conference on Outdoor Leadership
WILDERNESS EDUCATION IN A CHANGING WORLD

February 10 - 22, 2021
YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly in Black Mountain, NC


Submission Deadline:   August 3, 2020
Student Presentation Proposals are encouraged early but will be accepted until October 30th.
PDF of Call:                   https://bit.ly/WEA2021CallforPresentationsPDF
Submission URL:         https://bit.ly/WEA2021ConferenceCall
Questions:                    [email protected]  

The International Conference on Outdoor Leadership is intentionally designed to deliver an inspired, practical, and motivating learning experience for attendees. We welcome all proposal submissions related to Wilderness Education and Outdoor Leadership. The theme for the 2021 conference is Wilderness Education in a Changing World. We encourage submissions related to: 

  • virtual learning and technology;
  • increased focus on environmental integration and place-based education;
  • programming in suburban settings;
  • supporting transformational experiences in shortened course durations; and
  • diversity and inclusion.

We encourage presenters to make full use of the resources and opportunities available at the YMCA Blue Ridge Assembly. See the tentative conference schedule to review the anticipated presentation times. 

This year, the WEA 2021 Leadership Committee has maintained the following presentation categories and we invite you to submit proposals for one or more. Students are encouraged to submit in any of the categories.

Presentation Categories

Pre- or Post-Conference Workshops

Occurring before or after regular conference programming, these workshops are a space for concentrated learning and experiences with specific and tangible outcomes, i.e., certifications, other credentialing, organizational trainings, etc. Pre- and post-conference workshop providers are not required to attend the conference and are thus not required to register for the conference. 

General Sessions

The General Sessions allow for engaging and interactive exploration of evidence-based ideas, research, and practices within the WEA 6+1 curriculum. The theme for the 2021 WEA conference is Wilderness Education in a Changing World.  We encourage submissions related to: WEA 6+1 curriculum, virtual learning and technology; increased focus on environmental integration and place-based education; programming in suburban settings; supporting transformational experiences in shortened course durations; and diversity and inclusion. These sessions require engaging facilitators equipped with high-impact visuals and experiential techniques to challenge attendees in knowledge and skill development. These sessions tend to appeal to a more general audience with thought-provoking and research-supported insights and applications.

Practical Sessions

Student-centered, problem-based, experiential, and collaborative (SPEC) sessions rooted in practical experience, e.g., demonstrating an innovative method for teaching snow shelters, or maintaining XC skis, or kitchen setup in the winter. Share your expertise with implementing high-quality, SPEC learning moments in the outdoor classroom. These sessions can range from 1.5 to 3 hours. Preference is given to those proposals with a clear emphasis on transferable leadership and educational skills.

PAULtalks Sessions

The PAULtalk is high-efficiency, concentrated, and “close quarters” contact with a specific topic or issue in the industry. Like Petzoldt, these sessions won’t mince words or beat around the bush. In less than 20 minutes, these speakers will educate, inspire, and provoke. From sharing motivating personal anecdotes to presenting lofty ideas and questions to challenging trends and traditions in our industry, these short, intense sessions will be featured each day of the conference.

Research Sessions

The 2021 Research Sessions include accepted oral and poster presentations (or you are welcome to do both) that focus on empirical and conceptual research in the area of outdoor leadership training and development. A designated time will be scheduled for poster displays. A typical abstract submitted will include a literature review, statement of purpose/need for the study, methods used, results, discussion, and references. Data analysis does not need to be completed by the submission deadline but is expected to be completed by the final abstract submission date prior to the conference. 

Student Sessions

The Student Sessions at the WEA conference are an ideal time for students to design and deliver a workshop to other students and conference attendees in a warm and friendly environment. The Student Session Block is a dedicated time for students to get comfortable presenting personal experiences on WEA courses or in outdoor leadership academic programs, or insights for improving training and leadership development from their perspective.

Please note that preference will be given to speaker presentations that:

  1. Align with the conference theme: Wilderness Education in a Changing World.

  2. Focus on the following topics: virtual learning and technology; increased focus on environmental integration and place-based education; programming in suburban settings; supporting transformational experiences in shortened course durations; and diversity and inclusion.  

  3. Emphasize leadership, educational skills, and developing judgment (as opposed to simply teaching an outdoor skill). 

  4. Incorporate stories, examples, case studies, and best practices... (demonstrating that your key takeaways are applicable in multiple environments).

Reviewing Presentations

A team of volunteers will complete blind reviews of proposals and make recommendations to the Conference Leadership Team. Presenters whose proposals are accepted will be notified as quickly as possible. Presenters will receive Early Bird pricing for registration regardless of the time of notification or registration.


The WEA 2021 International Conference on Outdoor Leadership is built on the work of people like you: professional educators and practitioners dedicated to developing outdoor leaders who make quality decisions based on good judgment.