David Key
BA (Hons.), MSc (Dist.), FCHE.
UKMT Summer & Winter Mountain Leader, NZOIA Alpine and Rock Instructor.

At heart, I am an outdoor educator. I’m happiest outdoors working with groups to facilitate personal and social change. I hold international qualifications in mountaineering and rock climbing and have nearly twenty years experience leading groups in wild places.

I also teach Ecopsychology at Schumacher College, am a Fellow of the Centre for Human Ecology and maintain various independent research interests to support my professional practice.

My special interest is in the transformative power of wild places. I have worked internationally and published peer-reviewed papers, book chapters and articles on this subject.

Raised in the heart of the Derbyshire Peak District in the UK, I started out as a marketing consultant in London. Luckily, in 1994, I ‘escaped’ to a career in outdoor education and management training in New Zealand. Close call.

After winning a bursary, I came back to the UK in 1998 to attend a course at Schumacher College with the late Arne Naess before returning to New Zealand to train outdoor leaders in eco-education at the National Outdoor Training Centre (“OPC“) and Outward Bound NZ.

In 2000 I moved to Scotland and graduated from the Centre for Human Ecology (CHE) ( in Edinburgh in 2003, with an MSc (with distinction) in Human Ecology. I went on to become a Director and Teaching Fellow of the CHE and to co-lead the post-graduate course in Ecopsychology that the CHE ran collaboratively with University of Strathclyde until 2010.

In 2008, I was asked by WWF-Scotland to design an outdoor programme to catalyse and support leadership for sustainability aimed at people with influence in Scottish society. This work became know as The Natural Change Project which has been the main focus of my work ever since. Natural Change has been very successful resulting in – amongst many other things – fundamental changes to the National Curriculum which place sustainability at the core of formal education in Scotland. Today Natural Change is an independent social enterprise company supported by a charitable foundation.

In 2015, the University of Exeter, supported by funding from NERC, asked me to design and deliver a therapeutic outdoor programme in Cornwall. The aim of this was to develop a model for UK General Practitioners to prescribe outdoor experiences in response to a variety of symptoms and issues. The programme is now in it’s second year, with a focus on working with those struggling with Mild to Moderate Depression and anxiety. This has been very moving and powerful work, with some excellent results.

I’ve been a rock climber since I was 11 years old, although I’ve now semi-retired to easy climbs with good views! I am a passionate Telemark skier and I love running in wild places. I’m also a keen sailor, cook, sometime poet, and guitarist.

I currently live in Cornwall with my partner Libby, eleven year-old daughter Maia and lab-collie cross dog Ruby.

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