Outdoor Leadership

The outdoor leadership minor at Pacific University is designed to prepare students to lead backpacking, canoeing, sea kayaking or rock climbing outdoor trips. The course series is grounded in experiential education concepts, and there is an overt emphasis on transferring leadership skills to other life pursuits. Students are encouraged to contribute appropriate levels of assistance, planning and leadership for the Voyages and the Outdoor Pursuits programs.


  • Take experiential courses in rock climbing and/or sea kayaking very early in the sequence on your way to teaching these disciplines to novices
  • Complete additional course work in environmental awareness, sustainability and diverse populations in preparation for a wide range of careers
  • Develop transferable leadership skills, which prepare you for any type of job
  • Access the great outdoors, an inherent feature of the Pacific Northwest culture


Coursework includes an introductory, applied, seminar and independent project series focused on outdoor leadership constructs (e.g., trip planning, risk management, group dynamics); how to do and how to teach and lead select outdoor activities; and classes from other academic disciplines to develop appreciation for environmental and sustainability awareness and working with diverse populations. As students progress through the curriculum, they will be encouraged to contribute appropriate levels of assistance, planning and leadership for the Voyages and Outdoor Pursuits programs.


There are more than 750,000 jobs in the active outdoor industry, including traditional and outdoor education, guiding and retail, in California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska alone. Students taking this minor will be well prepared for jobs in this dynamic, challenging and rewarding field.

The outdoors are also used in a surprisingly wide range of other careers. Occupational therapy uses outdoor activities to help rehabilitate veterans. Psychology uses wilderness therapy to help youth develop self-confidence after living in an abusive home. English teachers use the outdoors to help inspire students to feel the emotions necessary to write powerful essays.

Graduates may work as outdoor guides, with programs such as Outward Bound, and in adaptive sports programs.

Director of Outdoor Pursuits, Student Life
Assistant Director of Outdoor Pursuits