Renaturing Science: The Role of Childhoodnature in Science for the Anthropocene

Donald Gray* (Corresponding Author), Edward M Sosu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter proposes that there is a need to examine childhoodnature experiences and the way in which these might be influential in shaping an agenda for science and science education in the Anthropocene. A renaturing of science places a much greater emphasis on, and recognition of, the interdependency and relational nature of the natural world in which humans are inextricably embedded and suggests the need for the development of a strong ecological identity (Thomashow, Ecological identity: Becoming a reflective environmentalist. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1996). This suggests that there is a need for increased availability of childhoodnature experiences and a focus on the quality of those experiences, as well as the need to explore further lifelong opportunities for developing innate biophilic (Wilson, Biophilia. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1984) tendencies. The chapter examines the childhoodnature experiences of beginning undergraduate university students and how these influence their current relationship to the natural world. Literature suggests that the strength of a person’s nature relatedness can have an impact on the way they view the natural world and can, subsequently, influence the actions they take toward that natural world. This chapter describes a mixed-methods approach used to examine beginning university students’ childhoodnature experiences and how those experiences may have influenced their sense of nature connectedness. Data gathered indicates that there are statistically significant correlations between childhoodnature experiences and current sense of nature connectedness, although the qualitative data suggests that the form of those experiences may be of critical importance. Evidence from the study presented here suggests that exposure to childhoodnature, while necessary, is not sufficient in itself, and further research is required into the nature and quality of childhoodnature experiences. This concurs with previous studies, e.g.,Vadala, Bixler, and James (J Environ Educ 39:3–18, 2007), which found that it was the particular qualities of the childhoodnature experience that appeared to play a significant part in shaping future interests, attitudes, and values.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on Childhoodnature
Subtitle of host publicationAssemblages of Childhood and Nature Research
EditorsAmy Cutter-Mackenzie, Karen Malone, Elisabeth Barratt Hacking
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-67287-8, 978-3-319-67286-1
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-67285-4
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2020

Publication series

NameSpringer International Handbooks of Education
ISSN (Print)2197-1951
ISSN (Electronic)2197-196X


  • nature connectedness
  • Childhood experiences
  • Ecological identity
  • Higher education
  • Biophilia


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