Experiential Education

Experiential education is an integral part of the overall UBC Okanagan academic experience, supporting the transformative learning focus of UBC’s Strategic Plan (Shaping UBC’s Next Century) and Outlook 2040. Transformative learning is supported by leveraging multiple pedagogical approaches such as interdisciplinary education, flexible learning, work-integrated learning, practical learning and experiential education.

Experiential Education is a philosophy and methodology in which “educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values, and develop people’s capacity to contribute to their communities.”

 Association for Experiential Education

Experiential Education at UBC

Key characteristics of experiential education at UBC include: ​

    • the purposeful involvement and expertise of educators;
    • the direct experience or engagement by learners;
    • an intentional approach to teaching and learning through experiences;
    • critical reflection by learners; and
    • relational opportunities for engagement and accountability

Experiential Education Clusters

Five clusters have been developed by the Experiential Education Roundtable to form a basis for the types of activities that align with experiential education at UBC.

Experiential education activities are complex, innovative and frequently overlap. These clusters provide a starting point that will continue to be adapted and refined over time and through further consultation.

Applied research experience engages students in experience-based research in order to solve a particular problem or gather valuable data. The research is collaboratively developed or guided by faculty input and may involve a partner organization, community and/or company.


  • Consulting projects
  • Design projects
  • Community-based research, fieldwork, or public scholarship

Classroom-based and developmental pedagogies use experiences as an integral part of learning in a credit-based course or formal non-credit skills development program to allow students to practice and engage directly with concepts, skills, and values to understand them more deeply.


  • Case studies
  • Labs
  • Simulations
  • Project-based group work
  • Debates
  • Rehearsals
  • Entrepreneurial activity

Community-engaged learning aims to provide students with valuable experience working in the community, with community members and leaders, or through community-informed lenses and practices. Community-engaged learning situates community members as teachers, leaders, experts and facilitators.


  • Service-learning
  • Civic learning
  • Justice-learning
  • Public scholarship
  • Facilitated volunteer placements

Land and place-based learning broadly includes pedagogies that involve deep intentional, reflective, historical, spiritual, and/or physical engagement with the situated place where students are learning. Land and place can include engagement with wilderness areas, urban and architectural understandings of place, and Indigenous knowledges that are inextricably intertwined with the land, as well as immersive experiences.


  • Adventure-based learning
  • Outdoor and environmental education
  • Field trips
  • International exchanges

Work-Integrated Education refers to Work-Integrated Learning programs that contain a substantial and meaningful workplace experience with intentional links to the students’ degree experience. The workplace or practice setting is the primary site of learning.


Source: Experiential Education Roundtable Proposal, March 2022

Reports and Plans

Significant effort was invested across both campuses to create a shared understanding of experiential education, identify challenges and barriers to advancing this work and develop an action plan for moving these priorities forward. This work has culminated in a phased approach to experiential education that is in alignment with UBC-wide strategic priorities and articulates the unique experiences and opportunities found at UBC Okanagan.

Experiential Learning (EL) Task Force

An Experiential Learning (EL) Task Force, led by the offices of the Provost and AVP, Students, was created in 2018 to better understand EL offerings at UBC Okanagan, identify current challenges and make recommendations.


Experiential Education Roundtable

The Experiential Education Roundtable was formed in 2021 with a mandate to provide strategic direction for system-wide initiatives to build capacity to administer and sustain experiential education at UBC.


UBC Okanagan Scope and Action Plan 

The scope and action plan proposes an approach to experiential education that articulates the unique experiences and opportunities found at UBC Okanagan and aligns with UBC-wide strategic priorities.


Initiative Spotlight

Undergraduate Research Ambassadors program

In 2021, the Provost’s Office launched a pilot project to help undergraduate students learn more about applied research opportunities at UBC Okanagan. Through this program, student ambassadors provide advice and support to peers in navigating and approaching the idea of engaging with research. Working in collaboration with campus partners, the program coordinates information, convenes events and provides a point of contact to help students explore ways in which research could be integrated into their undergraduate experience.

Learn More

Student Spotlight

UBC Okanagan offers a wide range of experiential education opportunities inside and outside the classroom. Meet some of the students on our campus who are experiencing these transformational learning opportunities.