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Stephen Ritchie

Stephen Ritchie

Associate Professor

School of Kinesiology and Health Sciences
250, B.F.Avery Physical Education Centre Sudbury Campus


Stephen Ritchie is an Associate Professor in the School of Human Kinetics at Laurentian University; he was originalky hired to teach in the Outdoor Adventure leadership program. He is also now a faculty investigator at the Centre for Rural and Northern Health Research, the Centre for Research in Occupational Safety and Health,  and he is a core member of the Evaluating Children's Health Outcomes Research Centre.  He is active in a diverse portfolio of research, using diverse methods, with a variety of teams, including several research collaborations with Indigenous communities in rural and remote locations.  He has also worked in the outdoor field on and off for nearly 40 years as a guide, teacher, facilitator, and more recently as professor and researcher.  Prior to his arrival at the university, Stephen spent six years consulting in the private sector working onsite for several large corporations at various locations across Canada.

As an avid outdoorsman, Stephen has international mountaineering experience scaling peaks throughout Canada, the United States, Alaska, Mexico, and in the Himalayas.  He has also canoed, kayaked, and rafted throughout Canada on turbulent whitewater rivers, and he has led several long backcountry wilderness expeditions in some of the most remote regions of Canada. Stephen resides in Sudbury Ontario with his wife Nathalie, and their famnily includes two adult children, Tristan and Ixta.  And when he is not too busy with his teaching, researching, climbing, or paddling, he can be found lounging on the bank of the Aux Sables River in northern Ontario.

Professional Vision Statement:

My vision is to understand and share the holistic health benefits of an active lifestyle involving wilderness travel, adventure, and the appreciation of nature.  I dream of a day when individuals, groups, policy makers, and society will embrace the outdoors as a medium for personal change and health, and as a catalyst for growth and learning. 

Professional Mission Statement:

My personal mission encompasses a threefold daily effort:

1.  To acquire, develop, and disseminate information and research that both explains and expands the field of outdoor adventure leadership and physical and health education.

2.  To educate and motivate students towards a professional orientation, expertise and passion for outdoor adventure leadership and physical and health education.  Undergraduates will be knowledgeable, skilled, certified, and work ready.  Graduates will be passionate, motivated, and experts in their chosen field of study.

3.  To actively promote the holistic health benefits of wilderness adventure, outdoor education, and contact with nature. 


  • PhD, School of Rural and Northern Heath, Laurentian University
  • MBA, Concordia University
  • BPE, University of Calgary

On The Web


Stephen’s research interests are applied and diverse.  His current passion is devoted to understanding wilderness, adventure, and outdoor education in the context of achieving personal growth and health outcomes.  He is currently involved in research projects related to the following: (1) program evaluation in a variety of contexts; (2) using heart rate variability (HRV) as a psycho-physiological measure of stress and holistic health in natural environments; (3) understanding the health impacts related to active interactions with nature and immmersive wilderness experiences; (4) understanding the impact of challenges courses and outdoor orietnation programs on university campuses in Canada; and (5) developing and evaluating community-based emergency care training programs for lay people and professionals in rural and remote communities. Stephen is interested in diverse applied methods including quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods approaches.  He is also involved in several community-based participatory research (CBPR) projects with Indigenous communities that include program development, implementation, and evaluation phases.


Recognized as one of the Top Ten Researchers in the Faculty of Health at Laurentian University in 2015 and 2016.

‘Coureur des Bois’ – Gold designation at the Canadian Ski Marathon February 9-10, 2008.

`Best of the Best` Award from RLG International for superior project results and customer satisfaction (private sector business consulting). 2001.


My philosophy of teaching and education is rooted in a belief in the tenets of experiential education (Warren, Mitten, & Loeffler, 2008) which has its theoretical roots in the work of John Dewey (Dewey, 1938/1997).  My belief is that students learn best when they are active, engaged, and passionate about a topic or curriculum that they believe has real-world implications.  To this end, I believe that students learn by simultaneously “doing” and “reflecting” (Priest & Gass, 2017; Seaman, 2008).  Thus, I plan my courses and classes such that they include a variety of experiential activities, group work, discussion, case studies, and scenarios.  My expectation is that students increase their subject knowledge through readings and study prior to arriving at the in-class session.  Once the class session begins, I endeavour to engage the class and each student in vibrant discussions and debates and ignite their passion through provocative questions and challenges. 

I also believe that the classroom setting is primarily designed to stimulate creative and critical thinking.  It is important that students expose their ideas in public fora in order that they can exercise their capacity for critical thinking and debate, and develop confidence in sharing their beliefs, opinions, and passions.   This is an important part of the learning cycle because it provides an accountability forum for the expression of ideas and critical thinking.  Students should be encouraged and mentored to be creative and “spread their wings” as much as they should be encouraged to be critical and diligent in discovering and articulating the ideas and findings of others.

Dewey, J. (1938/1997). Experience and education. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

Priest, S., & Gass, M. A. (2017). Effective leadership in adventure programming. Champaign 3rd Ed., IL: Human Kinetics.

Seaman, J. (2008). Experience, reflect, critique: The end of the "learning cycles" era. Jounral of Experiential Education, 31(1), 3-18.

Warren, K., Mitten, D., & Loeffler, T. A. (Eds.). (2008). Theory & practice of experiential education. Boulder, CO: Association for Experiential Education.


  • Tetzlaff E, Greasley C, J, Ritchie SD, Oddson B. Little J, Benoit J, McGarry J. (2022). Student Perspectives on Experiencing a Northern Ontario Portage and Wilderness Immersion Program at Laurentian University in Northern Ontario, Canada. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning, 1-20. Funded by LU.
  • Orkin AM, Venugopal J, Curran JD, Fortune MK, McArthur A, Mew E, Ritchie SD, Drennan IR, ExleyA, Jamieson R, Johnson DE, MacPherson A, MartiniukA, McDonald N, Osei-Ampofo M, Wegier P, Van de Velde S, & Vanderburgh D. (2021). Emergency care with lay responders in underserved populations: a systematic review. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 99(7), 514-528,528A-528H.
  • Deibert, SL, Ritchie, SD, Oddson, B, Michel, G, & Tetzlaff, EJ. (2021). Reflexivity Through a Yoga Class Experience: Preparing for My Health Promotion Without Borders Excursion to Mongolia. Qualitative Report, 26(5), 1401-1410.
  • Nowrouzi-Kia, B, Nixon, J, Ritchie, SD, Wenghofer, E, Vanderburgh, D, & Sherman, J. (2021). Quality of work life of paramedics practicing community paramedicine in northern Ontario, Canada: a mixed-methods sequential explanatory study. Rural and Remote Health. Funded by MOHLTC.
  • Orkin, AM, Rao, S, Venugopal, J, Kithulegoda, N, Wegier, P, Ritchie, SD, VanderBurgh, D, Martiniuk, A, Salamanca-Buentello, F, & Upshur, R (2021). Conceptual framework for task shifting and task sharing: an international Delphi study. Human resources for health, 19(1), 61-61. Funded by AHSC AFP Innovation Fund.
  • Forbes, A, Ritchie, SD, Walker, J, & Young, N. (2020). Applications of Two-Eyed Seeing in Primary Research Focused on Indigenous Health: A Scoping Review. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 19, 1-18. Funded by MOHLTC Health Services Research Fund.
  • Vanderburgh, D, Savage, DW, Dubois, S, Binguis, N, Maxwell, S, Bocking, N, Farrell, T, Tien, H, Ritchie, SD, & Orkin, A. (2020). Epidemiologic features of medical emergencies in remote First Nations in northern Ontario: a cross-sectional descriptive study using air ambulance transport data. CMAJ Open, 8(2), E400-E406.  Funded by AHSC AFP Innovation Fund.
  • Meilleur A, Ritchie SD, Oddson B, McGarry J, Pickard P, Brunette M. (2020). A Retrospective Study of the Perceived Importance of a Mandatory Outdoor Canoe Excursion from the Perspective of Alumni from a University in Canada. Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education. 23, 1-20. Funded by LU.
  • Gagnon DD, Dorman S, Ritchie SD, Mutt SJ, Stenback V, Walkowiak J, & Herzig KH. (2019). Multi-Day Prolonged Low- to Moderate-Intensity Endurance Exercise Mimics Training Improvements in Metabolic and Oxidative Profiles Without Concurrent Chromosomal Changes in Healthy Adults. Frontiers in Physiology. 10, 1-12. 1-12. Funded by LU and University of Oulu.
  • Usuba K, Russell J, Ritchie SD, Mishibinijima D, Wabano MJ, Enosse L, Young NL. (2019). Evaluating the Outdoor Adventure Leadership Experience Program Using the Aboriginal Children’s Health and Well-Being Measure (ACHWMã).  Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education. 22(3), 187-197.  DOI: 10.1007/s42322-019-00038-2. Funded by MOHLTC Health Services Research Fund (HSRF).
  • Young N, Wabano MJ, Aboriginal Child Health Team (including Ritchie SD). (2018). Beyond the Patient – Lessons from Community Engagement in a Rural First Nation. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 190(Suppl 1): S16-18.  doi:10.1503/cmaj.180381. Funded by Ontario SPOR Support Unit.
  • Curran, J, Ritchie, SD, Beardy, J, VanderBurgh, D, Born, Lewko, J, & Orkin, AM. (2018). Conceptualizing and managing medical emergencies where no formal paramedical system exists: Perspectives from a remote Indigenous community in Canada. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(2). DOI:10.3390/ijerph15020267. Funded by AHSC AFP Innovation Fund.
  • Mew E, Ritchie SD, VanderBurgh D, Beardy J, Gordon J, Fortune M, Mamakwa S, Orkin A. (2017). Emergency Response Systems and Services in Remote First Nations Communities in Northern Ontario: An Environmental Scan. International Journal of Circumpolar Health. Funded by LU.
  • Ritchie SD, Patrick K, Corbould M, Oddson B, & Harper N. (2016).  An environmental scan of outdoor adventure therapy in Canada.  Journal of Experiential Education. 39(3), 303–320. doi:10.1177/1053825916655443.  Funded by LU.
  • Orkin AM, Curran JD, Fortune MK, McArthur A, Mew EJ, Ritchie SD, Van de Velde S, VanderBurgh D. (2016). Health Effects of Training Laypeople to Deliver Emergency Care in Underserviced Populations: A Systematic Review Protocol. BMJ Open. 6(e010609), 1-8. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010609. Funded by AHSC AFP (Academic Health Science Centres Alternative Funding Plan) Innovation Fund.
  • Orkin, AM, Vanderburgh D, Ritchie SD, Curran JC, Beardy J. (2016). Community-Based Emergency Care:  A model for prehospital care in remote Canadian communities. Canadian Journal of Emergency Medicine. 0/(0), 1-4. doi:10.1017/cem.2016.339. Funded by Indigenous Health Research Development Program (IHRDP).
  • Carreau, JM, Bosselut G, Ritchie SD, Heuzé JP, & Arppe S. (2016). Emergence and evolution of informal roles during a canoe expedition. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning. DOI: 10.1080/14729679.2015.1122539. Funded by LU.
  • Robertson A, King K, Ritchie SD, Gauthier AP, Laurence M, & Dorman SC. (2015). Validating the use of heart rate variability for estimating energy expenditure. International Journal of Human Movement and Sports Sciences. 3(2), 19-26DOI: 10.13189/saj.2015.030203.  Funded by LU and Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC).
  • Young NL, Wabano MJ, Ritchie SD, Burke TA, Pangowish B, Corbiere R. (2015). Assessing children’s interpretations of the Aboriginal Children’s Health and Well-Being Measure (ACHWM). Health and Quality of Life Outcomes. 13(105), 1-7. Funded by CIHR.
  • Ritchie SD, Wabano MJ, Corbiere RG, Russell K, Restoule B, & Young NL. (2015). Connecting to the Good Life through outdoor adventure leadership experience. Journal of Adventure Education and Outdoor Learning. DOI: 10.1080/14729679.2015.1036455. Funded by IHRDP and LU.
  • Ritchie SD, Wabano MJ, Russell K, Enosse L, & Young NL. (2014). Promoting resilience and well-being through an outdoor intervention designed for Aboriginal adolescents. Rural and Remote Health. 14(2523), 1-19. Funded by IHRDP and LU.
  • Vanderburgh D, Jamieson, R, Beardy J, Ritchie SD, Orkin A. (2014). Community-based first aid: A program report on the intersection of community-based participatory research and first aid education in a remote Canadian Aboriginal community. Rural and Remote Health. 14(2537), 1-8.   Funded by AHSC AFP Innovation Fund.
  • Ritchie SD, Wabano MJ, Beardy J, Curran J, Orkin A, Vanderburgh D, Young, NL. (2013). Community-based participatory research with First Nations communities: The proximity paradox. Health and Place. 24(11), 183-189. Funded by IHRDP and AHSC AFP Innovation Fund.
  • Young NL, Wabano MJ, Burke TA, Ritchie SD, Mishibinijima D, & Corbiere RG,. (2013). A process for creating the Aboriginal children’s health and well-being measure (ACHWB).  Canadian Journal of Public Health, 104(2), e136-e141. Funded by IHRDP.
  • Larivière M, Couture R, Ritchie SD, Côté D, Oddson B, & Wright, J. (2012). Behavioural assessment of wilderness therapy participants: Exploring the consistency of observational data.  Journal of Experiential Education, 35(1), 290-302. Funded by Consortium national de formation en santé (CNFS).