A new focus for education? Nature connection as a goal for all education
: Theoretical, research and practical perspectives

  • Alex Barrable

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    Ecological catastrophe, including the Holocene mass extinction, and the climate crisis demand that we find new ways to approach the human-nature relationship. An effective way to enact positive change is through education. Nature connection describes a positive relationship with the natural world: how we engage with it on cognitive, affective and behavioural levels and how much we feel we are a part of it. This thesis examines nature connection and its correlates, which include wellbeing, pro-environmental attitudes and ecological behaviours; and puts it forward as a focus for all education, and moving away from its current status as an assumed by-product of outdoor learning, starting with early childhood and spanning across to higher education. Grounded in Self-Determination Theory but also drawing upon research from developmental and environmental psychology, it further proposes a research-informed framework that could be used to enhance nature connection.

    Finally, it uses research to make meaningful links between theory and practice, in the pursuit of creating a more meaningful relationship with the non-human natural world.
    Date of Award2020
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorDivya Jindal-Snape (Supervisor) & Lauren Boath (Supervisor)

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