Jed Brensinger's Graduate Defense Seminar
Jed Brensinger, MS Candidate, Environmental Social Science, will present Making Connections: Exploring the Relationship Between Childhood Nature Experiences, Environmental Concern and Behaviors, and Connection to Nature, as his Graduate Defense Seminar. This seminar will be held in 245 Kottman Hall.
The last decade has seen an increased interest in getting people, particularly children, outdoors and more connected to nature. This has ranged from grassroots organizations such as the Children and Nature Network to President Obama’s Every Kid in a Park initiative. This is in part largely the result of an increasing body of literature examining the positive effects of time in nature on a person’s physical health, mental health, and overall well-being. However, research regarding the human-nature relationship remains unclear in explaining exactly what connection to nature entails. Some have defined it as a cognitive recognition or an attitude, others as an emotional relationship, and still others as being experiential. What has largely been agreed upon is that those with significant early life experiences of nature should be more concerned about the fate of the natural world. My research extends this hypothesis in examining what variables might explain a person’s level of connection to nature, particularly childhood activities. In doing so I examine three different measures of connection to nature and attempt to further validate one, the Implicit Association with Nature Test by making comparisons based on college major, gender, and political ideology. My findings extend previous work, not only in noting the significant impact of childhood outdoor activities on environmental concerns and behaviors, but also in explaining one’s level of connection to nature.