Changes in experiences with nature through the lives of environmentally committed university faculty
Previous work has identified time spent in nature as a child as a precursor to active care for the natural world (i.e. environmental commitment), but a paucity of data exists on what happens to environmentally committed people’s relationship to nature over time, including the time spent in nature and the quality of that experience. In addition, previous work has not more finely categorized these nature experiences, with the exception of natural history-oriented professionals. I address these gaps by conducting in-depth interviews with 12 faculty in the environment at Duke University regarding relationships with nature throughout their life. The interviews reveal that the amount of time spent in nature, and the quality of that experience, changed for this cohort over time. Moreover, these interviews revealed nuanced aspects of relationships with nature that changed with life stage, complementing that work which was conducted on natural history-oriented professionals. This work suggests that more research is needed on the changing relationship with nature among adults and environmental educators.
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