Nevin Harper

Nevin Harper
Associate Professor
School of Child and Youth Care

BA (Oregon), MA (RRU), PhD (Minnesota)


In the years before graduate school, Nevin was a supervisor, trainer and guide in a number of outdoor and adventure based intervention programs, primarily with youth in the criminal justice system and residential care. Nevin was also active in the development of the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada and the Canadian Adventure Therapy Symposium. Prior to coming to SCYC, Nevin taught at Camosun College for six years. There he designed the Post-Degree Diploma in Adventure Education, and lead adventure-based field schools in the Andes with young adults focused on experiential learning and developing reflective practice.

Research interests

Outdoor and adventure-based education and therapy; human-environmental relationships; experiential and environmental education; ecopsychology; youth and emerging adult development.

Nevin’s research and practice focuses on the theory, process and outcomes associated with outdoor, adventure, and experiential activities and programs as they relate to educational, developmental or therapeutic aims. While primarily focused on adolescents, he has conducted research with children, families, college students and veterans. His work is conceptually located and published in the areas of adventure education and therapy, ecopsychology, and child and youth care. Nevin is always on the look-out for graduate students to conduct their research in these areas.


Kirwin, M., Harper, N. J., Young, T., & Itai, I. (2019). Mindful adventures: a pilot study of Outward Bound Canada’s Mindfulness Program. Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education, 21(1), 75-90.

Harper, N. J. (2018). Locating self in place: Expedition-style study abroad in Bolivia and the global awareness of emerging adults. Journal of Experiential Education, 41(3), 295-311.

Dobud, W., & Harper, N. J. (2018). Of Dodo birds and the common factors: A scoping review of adventure therapy direct comparison trials. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 31, 16-24.

Harper, N. J. (2017). Outdoor risky play and healthy child development in the shadow of the ‘risk society’: A forest and nature school perspective. Journal of Youth Studies, 38(4), 318-334.

Gabrielsen, L. E., & Harper, N. J. (2018). The role of wilderness therapy for adolescents in the face of global trends of urbanization and technification. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 23(4), 409-421.

Harper, N. J. (2017). Wilderness therapy, therapeutic camping and outdoor adventure in child and youth care literature: A scoping review. Children and Youth Services Review, 83, 68-79.

Lim, C., Donovan, A. M., Harper, N. J., & Naylor, P. J. (2017). Natural elements and fundamental motor skill development at five elementary school districts in British Columbia. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(11), 1279.

Harper, N. J., Gabrielsen, L. E., & Carpenter, C. (2017). A cross-cultural exploration of “wild” in wilderness therapy: Canadian, Australian and Norwegian perspectives. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 18(2), 148-164.  

Harper, N. J., & Webster, A. L. (2017). Higher learning: Impacts of a high-altitude field school on college student development. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning. 17(1), 67-81.

Carpenter, C, & Harper, N. J. (2016). Health and wellbeing benefits of activities in the outdoors. In B. Humberstone, H. Prince & K. A. Henderson (Eds). International Handbook of Outdoor Studies (pp 59-68). London, UK: Routledge.

Ritchie, S., Patrick, K., Corbould, M., Harper, N., & Oddson, B. (2016). An environmental scan of adventure therapy in Canada. Journal of Experiential Education39(3), 303-320.

Harper, N. J., Peeters, L., & Carpenter, C. (2015). Adventure Therapy. In R. Black & K. S. Bricker (Eds). Adventure Programming and Travel for the 21st Century (pp 221-236). State College, PA: Venture Publishing Inc.

Harper, N. J. (2015). Contact with nature as a research variable in wilderness therapy. In Norton, C., Carpenter, C., & Pryor, A., (Eds). Adventure Therapy around the Globe: International Perspectives and Diverse Approaches (pp 536-551). Champaign, IL: Common Ground Publishing.

Harper, N. J., Norris, J. & D’astous, M. (2014). Veterans and the Outward Bound experience: An evaluation of impact and meaning. Ecopsychology, 6(3), 165-173.

Harper, N. J., Carpenter, C., & Segal, D. (2012). Self and Place: Journeys in the Land. Ecopsychology 4(4), 1-7.

Richards, K., Carpenter, C., & Harper, N. (2011). Looking at the landscape of adventure therapy: Making links to theory and practice. Journal of Adventure Education & Outdoor Learning, 11(2), 83-90.

Taylor, D., Segal, D., & Harper, N. J. (2010). The ecology of adventure therapy. Ecopsychology2(2), 77-83.

Harper, N. J. (2010). Future paradigm or false idol: A cautionary tale of evidence-based practice in adventure therapy and education. Journal of Experiential Education. 33(1), 38-55.

Harper, N. J. (2009). Family crisis and the enrollment of children in wilderness treatment. Journal of Experiential Education. 31(3), 447-450.

Harper, N., Potter, T., Bilodeau, M., Cormode, T., Dufresne, A., Dyck, B., et al. (2009). Canada and the state of adventure therapy: Wilderness expeditions, integrated service delivery models and democratic socialism? Mitten, D. & Itin, C. M. (Eds.). Connecting with the Essence of Adventure Therapy. Boulder CO: Association for Experiential Education.

Harper, N. J. (2009). Relation of the therapeutic alliance to outcome in adolescent wilderness treatment. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning. 9(1), 1-15.

Harper, N. J., & Russell, K. C. (2008). Family involvement and outcome in adolescent wilderness treatment: a mixed-methods evaluation. International Journal of Child and Family Welfare. 11(1), 19-36.

Harper, N. J., Russell, K. C., Cooley, R., & Cupples, J. (2007). Catherine Freer Wilderness Therapy Expeditions: An exploratory case study of adolescent wilderness therapy, family functioning, and the maintenance of change. Child and Youth Care Forum, 36(2/3), 111-129.

Harper, N., & Cooley, R. (2007). Parental reports of adolescent and family well-being following a wilderness therapy intervention: An exploratory look at systemic change. Journal of Experiential Education. 29(3), 393-396.

Harper, N. J., & Scott, D. G. (2006). Therapeutic outfitting: Enhancing adolescent mental health service through innovative collaborations with a wilderness experience program. Therapeutic Communities27(4), 524-545.

Russell, K. C., & Harper, N. J. (2006). Incident monitoring in outdoor behavioral healthcare programs: A four-year summary of restraint, runaway, injury and illness rates. Journal of Therapeutic Schools and Programs. 1(1), 70-90.

Harper, N., & Robinson, D. W. (2005). Outdoor adventure risk management: Curriculum design principles from industry and educational experts. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning. 5(2), 143-156.