What is the potential impact of nature-inclusive education in an academic context? Does more nature lead to deeper education? And should WUR education include more of these “transformative nature experiences that catalyse sustainability awareness”? On the 26th of April, teachers, students and a wide range of other voices in the academic landscape joined an engaging dialogue about this topic in Omnia.
When entering the room, green, leaf-like lights and forest sounds offered a first nature experience which helped the over 200 participants in the dialogue to reflect on their own relationship with nature. In addition to teachers and students, the audience included scientists, policymakers, representatives of NGOs, nature guides and journalists. WUR organised this dialogue together with Stichting Natuurcollege. ‘All students should have a chance to ask questions about life and the relationship with nature’, Lian Kasper from Stichting Natuurcollege kicked off the event.
Lian Kasper from Stichting Natuurcollege kicked off the event.
To further explore the concept of nature-inclusive education, two keynote speakers highlighted this topic from a scientific perspective. Noëlle Aarts is a professor of Socio-Ecological Interactions at Radboud University and domain leader on education and awareness for the LNV programme ‘Nature Inclusive’. She explained why we need to improve our relationship with nature and each other. ‘If we saw ourselves as a part of nature, we would automatically take better care of it.’However, that is easier said than done, because ‘it starts with recognising our dependency on nature’.
If we saw ourselves as a part of nature, we would automatically take better care of it. It starts with recognising our dependency on nature.
Awareness of humans’ dependency on nature is something that goes against the prevailing thoughts of most people, according to Aarts. A good start to transform these thoughts would be to change our language, which is full of expressions of human dominance over other life forms. ‘If you want to change the way people think, you should change the way they talk’, she said.
Aarts’ talk was followed by a presentation by the brand-new WUR-professor of Human-Nature Relationships in the Anthropocene Maria Tengö. Her research focuses on practices, ethics and motivations in the relationship between humans and nature and the question why this matters. ‘Decisions, based on a narrow set of market values of nature, underpin the global biodiversity crisis’, she said. To make more sustainable decisions, she thinks that including multiple perspectives on the relationship with nature would help. To further illustrate this, she highlighted two of her research projects, which are based on dialogue and coproduction of knowledge.
Background story keynote Noelle Aarts
Decisions, based on a narrow set of market values of nature, underpin the global biodiversity crisis.