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Fostering Children’s Connection to Nature Through Authentic Situations: The Case of Saving Salamanders at School
University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental engineering. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2637-2024
Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Alnarp, Sweden.
University of Gävle, Faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development, Department of Building, Energy and Environmental Engineering, Environmental engineering. Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden.
2018 (English)In: Frontiers in Psychology, ISSN 1664-1078, E-ISSN 1664-1078, Vol. 9, article id 928Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

 The aim of this paper is to explore how children learn to form new relationships with nature. It draws on a longitudinal case study of children participating in a stewardship project involving the conservation of salamanders during the school day in Stockholm, Sweden. The qualitative method includes two waves of data collection: when a group of 10-year-old children participated in the project (2015) and 2 years after they participated (2017). We conducted 49 interviews with children as well as using participant observations and questionnaires. We found indications that children developed sympathy for salamanders and increased concern and care for nature, and that such relationships persisted 2 years after participation. Our rich qualitative data suggest that whole situations of sufficient unpredictability triggering free exploration of the area, direct sensory contact and significant experiences of interacting with a species were important for children’s development of affective relationships  with the salamander species and with nature in an open-ended sense. Saving the lives of trapped animals enabled direct sensory interaction, feedback, increased understanding, and development of new skills for dynamically exploring further ways of saving species in an interactive process experienced as deeply meaningful, enjoyable and connecting. The behavioral setting instilled a sense of pride and commitment, and the high degree of responsibility given to the children while exploring the habitat during authentic situations enriched children’s enjoyment. The study has implications for the design of education programs that aim to connect children with nature and for a child-sensitive urban policy that supports authentic nature situations in close spatial proximity to preschools and schools.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 9, article id 928
Keywords [en]
nature experience, affordances, affective relationships with nature, urban, situated learning, stewardship, qualitative methods, longitudinal approach
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-29120DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00928ISI: 000434680800001PubMedID: 29937747Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85048250371OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-29120DiVA, id: diva2:1278877
Projects
ZEUS - Spatial and Experiential Analyzes for Urban Social Sustainability
Funder
Swedish Research Council Formas, 2016-01193Available from: 2019-01-15 Created: 2019-01-15 Last updated: 2019-02-25Bibliographically approved

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Barthel, StephanGiusti, Matteo

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