Franklin Vernon provided an example of how programs viewing themselves as “cultural islands” are in fact embedded within historical capitalist relations, through the discourses of self that they promote. In this response, I expand on Vernon’s argument to situate the quasi-therapeutic practices he identified in the history of the human potential movement, which effectively merged with Outward Bound starting in the 1960s and continues to define outdoor experiential education. Where Vernon sought the structural referents to different models of self, this response seeks their historical origins. The response concludes by linking Vernon’s argument with existing critiques and parallel efforts in the literature on youth development and identity formation.

Publication Date


Journal Title

Democracy & Education


Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling

Document Type



This is an article published by Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling in Democracy & Education on 11/11/16, available online: link