Young people today spend relatively little time in natural environments, and this can lead to problems when they enter college degree programs in environmental studies or sciences. We designed a field course to reconnect undergraduates with nature through focused exercises in wilderness survival. This course integrates multiple learning domains, with a primary focus on the affective. In this case study, we narrate the story of one exercise deployed in this course, a night class in the forest, which has proven valuable for helping our students develop an affective connection with the natural surroundings. The success of the exercise hinges on careful choreography and the authenticity of the nighttime forest setting. Oral testimonies and written reflections following a daytime return visit reveal profound impacts on students, both in their awareness of the environment around them and their sense of connection to it. This article concludes with several questions to help faculty and students critically consider their own teaching and learning in environmental studies, as well as the potential applicability of these exercises in other academic situations.
Addressing Estrangement from Nature with a Night Class in the Forest
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Jacob C. Brenner, Jason G. Hamilton, Anne Stork, Jed Jordan, Tim Drake; Addressing Estrangement from Nature with a Night Class in the Forest. Case Studies in the Environment 31 December 2018; 2 (1): 1–9. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/cse.2017.000588
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