I am an associate professor and chair of the Department of Recreation Management and Policy at the University of New Hampshire. I pursue two lines of research: (1) Historical and philosophical foundations of outdoor experiential education, and (2) how outdoor experiences in adolescence support healthy development, particularly identity formation and the creation of future goals and plans. Both lines of research are committed to understanding how human development is culturally and historically organized and how social class shapes the way people engage in learning experiences.
Regarding my first research line, I have published extensively on John Dewey's educational theories and the creation of Outward Bound in the USA following its origins in Cold War Europe and subsequent merger with the cultural phenomenon known as the Human Potential Movement in the United States in the 1970s. I am currently working to tell the story of Outward Bound's early formation as it expanded from the UK to Germany following WWII with the support of high-level officials from the US government, international banks, and philanthropists who were keen to stop Russia's westward encroachment into central Europe. With its origins in the Protestant work ethic, Outward Bound provided an ideal vehicle for capitalism to take root in the minds and character of young men as an ideological bulwark against communism; this was the express and stated intent of its designers and supporters. The origins of Outward Bound as an instrument of American soft power during the Cold War are not well known.
Regarding my second research line, I have been devoting my recent attention on adolescent identity development to supporting outdoor youth-serving organizations in New Hampshire expand the pathways that are available to youth. I have been most focused on organizations that serve youth from rural communities in the northern part of the state. This interest led to the formation of the NH Youth Retention Initiative, a collaborative project with colleagues at UNH designed to understand the messages youth are receiving about what they should do after high school, how those messages circulate, and how they influence postsecondary planning. We want to know how this messaging (what the identity literature calls "master narratives") can be changed to more positively impact youth identity formation and future planning, in ways that also benefit communities by helping youth recognize work opportunities in the state - many of which have to do with the emerging outdoor recreation economy. I am interested to know more about how informal learning experiences in the outdoors can be better leveraged to expand how youth perceive their futures, and how communities can become more responsive to evolving youth interests.
I am currently accepting graduate students who are interested in youth development, outdoor learning, and identity formation to join the Youth Retention Initiative team.
KIN 884: History of Outdoor Education
OUT 546: Whitewater Canoeing
OUT 552: Water Based Experiences
OUT 681: Foundations of Adventure Ed.
OUT 693: Teaching Assistantship
RMP 796: Independent Study
RMP 970: Teaching Practicum
RMP 980: Independent Study
Ph.D., Education, University of New Hampshire
M.S., Kinesiology: Outdoor Education, University of New Hampshire
B.A., English, Secondary Education, New England College
Seaman, J., Dettweiler, U., Humberstone, B., Martin, B., Prince, H., & Quay, J. (2020). Joint Recommendations on Reporting Empirical Research in Outdoor, Experiential, Environmental, and Adventure Education Journals. Journal of Experiential Education, 43(4), 348-364. doi:10.1177/1053825920969443
Seaman, J., MacArthur, R., & Harrington, S. (2020). Dartmouth Outward Bound Center and the rise of experiential education, 1957–1976. History of Education Review, 49(1), 9-29. doi:10.1108/her-07-2019-0024
Sharp, E. H., Seaman, J., Tucker, C. J., Van Gundy, K. T., & Rebellon, C. J. (2020). Adolescents' Future Aspirations and Expectations in the Context of a Shifting Rural Economy. JOURNAL OF YOUTH AND ADOLESCENCE, 49(2), 534-548. doi:10.1007/s10964-019-01152-6
Seaman, J. (2019). Restoring Culture and History in Outdoor Education Research: Dewey’s Theory of Experience as a Methodology. Journal of Outdoor Recreation, Education, and Leadership, 11(4), 335-351. doi:10.18666/jorel-2019-v11-i4-9582