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Human-nature connection: a multidisciplinary review
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0179-2540
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2017 (English)In: Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, ISSN 1877-3435, E-ISSN 1877-3443, Vol. 26-27, p. 106-113Article, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In sustainability science calls are increasing for humanity to (re-)connect with nature, yet no systematic synthesis of the empirical literature on human-nature connection (HNC) exists. We reviewed 475 publications on HNC and found that most research has concentrated on individuals at local scales, often leaving 'nature' undefined. Cluster analysis identified three subgroups of publications: first, HNC as mind, dominated by the use of psychometric scales, second, HNC as experience, characterised by observation and qualitative analysis; and third, HNC as place, emphasising place attachment and reserve visitation. To address the challenge of connecting humanity with nature, future HNC scholarship must pursue cross-fertilization of methods and approaches, extend research beyond individuals, local scales, and Western societies, and increase guidance for sustainability transformations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 26-27, p. 106-113
National Category
Agricultural Science, Forestry and Fisheries Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-151694DOI: 10.1016/j.cosust.2017.05.005ISI: 000417390100016OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-151694DiVA, id: diva2:1175071
Available from: 2018-01-17 Created: 2018-01-17 Last updated: 2018-02-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Home for future Earth lovers: Foundations of nature-connecting habitats for children
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Home for future Earth lovers: Foundations of nature-connecting habitats for children
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Modern childhood is increasingly segregated from nature. Yet, children’s nature experiences are first steps for sustainable futures. In this thesis, I research the foundations of habitats that can connect children to nature. I call them nature-connecting habitats.

Five papers in this thesis answer: (RQ1) what is children’s human-nature connection (HNC)?; and (RQ2) what are the requirements of nature-connecting habitats for children? The preschools paper shows that five-year-olds with nature-rich routines have higher HNC than children with nature-poor routines, but it cannot understand which nature experiences are most influential. Hence, the salamanders paper assesses children’s participation in a nature conservation project. Discrepancies between the qualitative and quantitative results reveal an assessment gap with theoretical roots, which impedes the assessment of nature experiences in practical time-frames. To close this gap, the review paper surveys the literature and shows that attributes of the mind, qualities of nature experiences, and attachment to places are all aspects of HNC. The embody paper conceptualizes an embodied approach to HNC to overcome the barriers identified previously, and the toolbox paper operationalises it to develop a toolbox to assess children’s HNC and nature-connecting habitats.

Answering RQ1, results show that children’s HNC is a complex set of embodied abilities. Human-nature relationships that could enable, promote, or assist sustainable development are a set of abilities that children can learn. These abilities are relationships between mind, body, culture, and environment, and progress following non-linear dynamics. This thesis identifies 10 of these abilities of HNC and finds that children learn them in three consecutive phases. Phase one – being in nature – includes feeling comfortable in natural spaces, and being curious about nature. Phase two – being with nature – includes reading natural spaces, acting in natural spaces, feeling attached to natural spaces, knowing about nature, and recalling memories with nature. Phase three – being for nature – includes taking care of nature, caring about nature, and being one with nature.

Answering RQ2, two requirements of nature-connecting habitats are found: significant nature situations and various nature routines. Nature situations that can connect children to nature are characterised by configurations of 16 qualities – qualities of significant nature situations. These qualities are: entertainment, thought-provocation, awe, surprise, intimacy, mindfulness, self-restoration, creative expression, physical activity, challenge, engagement of senses, child-driven, involvement of mentors, structure/instructions, social/cultural endorsement, and involvement of animals. This set of qualities delineates the kinds of nature situations that nature-connecting habitats have to provide. These qualities should be various and recurring to allow children’s HNC to progress – hence, various nature routines. These lists of abilities and qualities form a toolbox capable of assessing where and how children connect to nature, named ACHUNAS.

This thesis sets the stage to develop nature-connecting habitats. Children’s HNC and nature-connecting habitats are not the only intervention to promote sustainable futures, but they might be necessary conditions to meet the ever-shifting target of sustainable civilizations.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, 2018. p. 44
Keywords
Human-nature connection, nature-connecting habitat, children, sustainability, human-nature relationship
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-152767 (URN)978-91-7797-157-3 (ISBN)978-91-7797-158-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-03-22, Vivi Täckholmssalen (Q-salen), NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 09:30 (English)
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Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 2: Manuscript.

Available from: 2018-02-27 Created: 2018-02-07 Last updated: 2018-02-27Bibliographically approved

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