10 SES 03 B, Parallel Paper Session
Parallel Paper Session
In the year 2010 more than half of the world’s population live in urban environments with a projection for that to increase to 70% by 2050. The rapid rate of urbanization alongside increasing demands for natural resources will intensify the social problems of the urban environment (World Resources 1997) and progressive deterioration of natural environments.
The biophilia hypothesis of human affiliation with nature, proposed by E.O.Wilson (1984), is based on the proposal that our intelligence has evolved to support a lifestyle involving close interaction with nature and that the structure of the brain has adapted in such a way as to pay significant attention to the living world (Kellert, 2007). This nature affiliation is important for the development of physical, emotional and intellectual well being but is recognised as being a weak genetic tendency that depends on experience and socialization for its expression (Kellert, 2007).
Growing interest in this area can readily be seen throughout Europe with the establishment of forest schools and nature kindergarden like the Natur bornehaven in Finland and Denmark, der wald kindergarten in Germany and several others.
Through the child’s engagement with and involvement in the natural world they form their relationship to and identity about themselves in that world, their environmental or ecological identity. Key adult influences in this respect are likely to be most strongly, parents and teachers. Thus it is proposed that urgent steps be taken to examine the way in which people, particularly young people, can be reconnected and maintain connectedness with the planet moving towards a more participant model of the human/nature relationship (Zweers, 2000).
This study looks at the development of an ecological identity in a group of undergraduate students in their first year of an initial teacher education programme (17-18 year olds). Because of the age group they can be considered youth with the specific characteristic that they will become teachers, with the role of guiding others towards the acquisition of an ecological identity.
This context for this study was a newly developed outdoor learning course named Body, Mind and Nature. The course was rooted within a theoretical framework encompassing experiential education and embodied cognition (Rathunde, 2009). The course was designed to engage students in activities which would raise awareness of themselves in their environment both urban and natural. Each session aimed to engage the students in a variety of dimensions to learning – sensorial, affective, cognitive, social etc, by means of walks through a variety of environments (Ingold, 2004) and a series of structured activities e.g. sensory mapping, disciplinary lenses, landart etc. The course was a notional 150 hours with 36 hours face-to-face contact with tutors. After initial introductions to each session, all sessions were run outdoors.
To what extent does the course impact on the development of the students ecological identity?
What are the conditions that facilitate the initial stages of the student engagement within an institutionalised course?
Dunlap, R. E., Van Liere, K. D., Mertig, A. G., & Jones, R. E. (2000). New Trends in Measuring Environmental Attitudes: Measuring endorsement of the New Ecological Paradigm: A revised NEP scale. Journal of Social Issues, 56(3), 425-442 Ingold, T. (2004). Culture on the ground.Journal of Material Culture Vol. 9(3): 315–340 Nisbet, E.K., Zelenski, J.M. and Murphy, S.A. (2009) The Nature Relatedness Scale : Linking Individuals' Connection With Nature to Environmental Concern and Behavior. Environment and Behavior 2009 41: 715-740 Rathunde, K. (2009) Nature and Embodied Education. The Journal of Developmental Processes, 2009, Vol. 4(1), Pages 70-80. Wilson, E. O. (1984). Biophilia. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. World Resources Institute (1997) World Resources 1996-97. A Guide to the Global Environment: The Urban Environment. New York, Oxford, Oxford University Press. UN Habitat (2008) State of the World’s Cities 2010/2011. Bridging The Urban Divide. London, Earthscan Publications. Zweers, W. (2000) Participating with Nature. Outline for an Ecologization of our World View. Utrecht, International Books.
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