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Nature Routines and Affinity with the Biosphere: A Case Study of Preschool Children in Stockholm
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0179-2540
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2637-2024
2014 (English)In: Children, Youth and Environments, ISSN 1546-2250, E-ISSN 1546-2250, Vol. 24, no 3, p. 16-42Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Do nature-deficit routines undermine affinity with the biosphere? We assessed social-ecological features in Stockholm that afford nature experiences and analyzed the accessibility of these natural areas to preschools. We then selected preschools with contrasting accessibilities. The nature routines resulting from differing outdoor possibilities in preschool life were investigated in relation to children’s affinity with the biosphere. Preschools with routines closer to nature have children who are more empathetic and concerned for non-human life forms, and more cognitively aware of human-nature interdependence. We conclude that, nature-rich routines in cities significantly correlate with higher children’s ability to develop affinity with the biosphere.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 24, no 3, p. 16-42
Keyword [en]
nature routine, affinity with the biosphere, extinction of experience, preschool children, urban design
National Category
Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-114368DOI: 10.7721/chilyoutenvi.24.3.0016OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-114368DiVA, id: diva2:791665
Available from: 2015-03-02 Created: 2015-03-02 Last updated: 2018-02-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Nature Routines of Children as Leverage Point for Sustainable Social-Ecological Urbanism: Connecting childhood and biosphere to design sustainable civilizations in the human habitat
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Nature Routines of Children as Leverage Point for Sustainable Social-Ecological Urbanism: Connecting childhood and biosphere to design sustainable civilizations in the human habitat
2016 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Strong sustainability requires enhanced knowledge and understanding of complex social-ecological interactions, but it also implies a ‘novel’ conceptualization of the relationship between humans and nature, one in which individuals perceive themselves as embedded members of the Biosphere. The aim of this Licentiate thesis is to investigate the validity of a strategy that is centered on designing the urban green infrastructure to nurture such human-nature relationship in children’s attitudes. The research is framed by spatial cognition, conservation psychology, and social-ecological sustainability and it focuses on the validity of this strategy. Hence, the Licentiate analyzes how reoccurring experiences of nature that are situated in the everyday habitat (i.e. nature routines) affect personal human-nature attitudes and how these can be implemented as leverage points to change social-ecological systems using sustainable urbanism. Paper 1 tests the assumed link between the nature routines in Stockholm and preschool children’s development of cognitive and emotional affinity to nature. The results show that nature-rich routines over a period of four years are significantly correlated with the strength of preschooler’s affinity with nature. Paper 2 uses a mixed methods approach to evaluate changes in Connection To Nature (CTN) in 10 years olds who partake in a project of nature conservation. The results of Paper 2 show that there is an evaluative gap between theory and practice in connecting children with nature that impedes the evaluation of how children’s CTN changes over short periods of time and that impedes the creation of an evaluative framework for nature experiences. Paper 3 considers these empirical results in theorizing an approach to sustainable urban design based on social-ecological sustainability that includes CTN. In order to overcome existing limitations Paper 3 presents the concept of cognitive affordances as a theoretical tool to embed cognitive and emotional attitudes towards nature into the design of urban spaces. All combined these papers provide valid evidence that nature routines in cities, especially for children, can be a significant leverage point to enable future sustainable civilizations. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Stockholm University, 2016. p. 27
Keyword
Nature routines, strong sustainability, sustainable social-ecological urbanism, connection to nature, children
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Research subject
Sustainability Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-134601 (URN)
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-10-13 Created: 2016-10-12 Last updated: 2017-05-15Bibliographically approved
2. 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
Keyword
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)
Opponent
Supervisors
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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