Michael Gass, a pioneer of the links between adventure and risk-taking activities and improving one’s emotional health, will deliver the prestigious Metcalf Endowment Lecture at the 68th annual SUNY Cortland Recreation Conference on Thursday, Nov. 1, and Friday, Nov. 2, at the College.
Gass, a professor in the College of Health and Human Services at the University of New Hampshire, will give the keynote address, “The Necessity of Adventure for Navigating One’s Life,” from 1 to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 1, in the Corey Union Function Room. The lecture is free and open to the public.
“Adventure and risk-taking are critical to making life meaningful and overcoming major obstacles,” said Gass said of his keynote lecture.
Although some of what he advocates might take place outdoors, such as in a high-climbing ropes adventure course, this process of actively engaged learning can take place inside the classroom as well, when a facilitator is leading participants in posing questions, experimenting, solving problems, assuming responsibility, being creative and constructing meaning.
“Participants will engage in understanding these concepts through story reflection, active examination and stepping out of their comfort zone,” he said.
Gass, who co-founded and directs the University of New Hampshire (UNH)’s Browne Center for outdoor behavioral health, earned a Ph.D. in experiential education from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
He has participated in international professorships in Taiwan, China, Australia, and Germany and for that was recognized by the university with its Award for Excellence in International Engagement.
Gass is the co-author of two influential books, Effective Programming in Adventure Programmingand Adventure Therapy: Theory, Research and Practice.
He also created and directed the Project Impact and Family Expedition programs. The inaugural chair of the Association for Experiential Education (AEE) Accreditation Council for its first 10 years of existence, Gass also served as president of the AEE board of directors in 1990.
Honored with the AEE’s Outstanding Experiential Teacher of the Year Award, he delivered the association’s Kurt Hahn Address and was presented its Distinguished Researcher Award. The UNH has also honored Gass with its School of Health and Human Service’s Distinguished Career Research Award. He has earned numerous other awards in his field.
“What’s Your Adventure” is the theme of the two-day gathering, the nation’s oldest continuous collegiate-sponsored recreation education conference, to be held in Corey Union. The theme seeks to inspire attendees to dream, explore and discover new horizons.
“We encourage our attendees to grow personally and professionally, step out of their comfort zone, and embrace their adventure through recreation,” said conference coordinator Elisa Knapp, an adjunct lecturer in SUNY Cortland’s Recreation, Parks and Leisure Studies Department.
“The field of recreation has endless possibilities for adventure, which is why we are encouraging everyone at our conference to embrace whatever adventures they may have,” Knapp said.
Presented by the College’s Recreation, Parks and Leisure Studies Department and students in its Special Events Planning class, the conference in the College’s Corey Union receives additional support for the Metcalf Keynote Address from the Metcalf Endowment Fund. Sponsors also include the Campus Artist and Lecture Series, the New York State Recreation and Parks Society, and the SUNY Cortland Alumni Association. The annual event hosts 300 to 400 students and professionals in the fields of recreation, parks, and leisure studies from all over New York state, the greater New England area and beyond.
The conference features an expo and internship fair, professional networking social, special workshops and trainings, two days of professional development sessions with catered luncheons, live entertainment and raffles of local goods and services.
Registration is open to the general public. The registration rate for the conference is $50 for students or $110 for professionals. Registrations will be accepted at the door both days.