MINNEAPOLIS - October 8, 2015 - In partnership with the University of Minnesota, the North American Association of Environmental Education and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Children & Nature Network is pleased to announce the formation of the Science of Nature-Based Learning Collaborative Research Network. The Network is a new collaboration with great promise to accelerate the pace of research to understand if, and how, nature exposure influences children’s learning, cognitive development and academic performance.
As an indication that funders and major organizations view the nature-learning connection as an important area of research, this Network is funded by the National Science Foundation with $750,000 over three years. The Science of Nature-Based Learning Collaborative Research Network is a new, unique area of funding for the organization -- a reflection of NSF’s deep commitment to children’s learning and its connection to nature.
Composed of researchers from across the country, as well as practitioner leaders in the non-profit, professional society, public education and museum sectors, this network-building endeavor will develop a long-term interdisciplinary research agenda about nature and learning, conduct exploratory research to understand possible mechanisms explaining how time spent in nature influences children’s classroom learning and behavior, and synthesize and disseminate existing knowledge about nature and learning as well as the network’s research findings.
Working together to grow the field of nature-learning connection research, and particularly the questions of what works, for whom, how, and under what circumstances, the cross-disciplinary Network will inform the practice of educators, educational administrators, policy makers, planners and designers, among others.
As National Science Foundation project officer, Chuck Kalish, remarked, “This seems like an important and incredibly timely project. There has been a great deal of public and professional interest in nature-based education. [The] network of experts is exceptionally well suited to helping us understand just how experiences in nature may support learning, and how parents and educators might use experiences in nature to support children’s learning and development.”
About University of Minnesota Extension:
University of Minnesota Extension is a 100-year-old partnership between the university and federal, state and county governments to provide scientific knowledge and expertise to the public. Through Extension, the University of Minnesota "extends" its resources to address critical public issues in priority areas, including food and agriculture, communities, environment, youth and families.
About the University of Minnesota Institute of Child Development
The Institute of Child Development (Department of Child Psychology) is a premier center of scholarship, teaching, and outreach devoted to the understanding and fostering of child development. Founded in 1925, the Institute is one of the oldest departments studying children's development in the U.S. From its inception, a key tenet of has been to "give away" child psychology. This philosophy has created an environment rich with collaborations, new ideas, and exciting interdisciplinary work.
About the Children & Nature Network
Since its founding in 2006, the Children & Nature Network has been advocating for children, their families and communities to enhance their health and well-being through direct experiences in nature. C&NN’s vision is a world in which all children play, learn and grow with nature in their everyday lives. The Children & Nature Network is leading the movement to connect all children, their families and communities to nature through innovative ideas, evidence-based resources and tools, broad-based collaboration and support of grassroots leadership. C&NN provides a wide range of user-friendly tools, including those to enhance positive family bonding and access to fun, friendly nature-based activities. To learn more, visit https://www.childrenandnature.org.
About the North American Association for Environmental Education
For more than four decades, the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) has been a leader in promoting excellence in environmental education throughout North America. It is the only national membership organization dedicated to strengthening the field of environmental education. With members in more than 30 countries and Affiliate organizations in 54 states, provinces, and regions, NAAEE represents more than 16,000 members and supporters. NAAEE also operates the Natural Start Alliance—a network of parents, teachers, and organizations that are working to ensure that infants, toddlers, and preschoolers regularly play and learn in nature.
Cathy Jordan, PhD, LP
Associate Professor, Pediatrics
Extension Specialist, Center for Community Vitality
University of Minnesota
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