OPEN GROUND place-based education and consultancy
Voyaging Holidays




Open Ground was started by Sam Harrison.  A brief personal history will highlight the ethos and aims of Open Ground, and also the skills and qualifications that Sam brings to his work.


I come from rural Suffolk where I was raised on a small-holding and worked on various farms.  My upbringing, mostly spent outside, was the start of a life-long quest to work in the woods, fields and hills.  It was also here, living through BSE and Foot and Mouth, that I first became aware of the burgeoning ecological crisis and the way it reached into peoples’ lives.


I studied philosophy at Cambridge University, which certainly was interesting!  Mostly in resistance to a philosophy which seemed utterly removed from everyday experience and modern issues, my thinking moved towards ecological philosophy.  Throughout my time at college, I travelled extensively through the Himalayas.  Initially trekking and sightseeing, I was drawn into community work, spending the last trip helping take in the harvest with a family in Ladakh, Northern India with I.S.E.C. (  This was a very important experience; through workshops and discussion with fellow volunteers, the wider implications of traditional Ladakhi life and its siege by the modern world became clear.


I spent the next three years developing my climbing and skiing, and working wherever the mountains were.  With time spent in the Cairngorms, Greenland, the Alps and the Himalayas, I developed my knowledge and grasp of all things mountainous.  However washing dishes and being a climbing bum could not last forever!


Returning to Scotland I studied for a MSc in Human Ecology at the Centre for Human Ecology (, which I gained with distinction in February 2006.  With an emphasis on engaged active study, this course was fundamental to the development of Open Ground.  Throughout this time I gained my outdoor qualifications in rock-climbing, hill-walking and skiing, and emergency first aid.  I also worked extensively as freelancer for various charities who work in personal and social development for inner city youth, using outdoor activities as a focus for this learning. 


Open Ground has developed through-out this time, and I now specialise in bringing out the unique qualities of each landscape in which I work.  With projects that return over time to the same place, people get a chance to build up a relationship with that land: the history, current use, ecology and how we fit into the picture.


I am currently studying part time for a PhD in Outdoor Education at Moray House, Edinburgh University.  This is looking at ‘place-based education’ and aims to create a case-study of the approach outlined on this website.  This will provide the perfect counterpart for projects with Open Ground, allowing for development and reflection.



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© Open Ground 2009            Site created by Canny Publishing