Assessing the divide between humans and the natural world: effects of increased experience in natural areas
Master of Environmental Studies
DisciplineOutdoor Recreation, Parks & Tourism
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There is speculation as to whether humans are able to comprehend, appreciate, and protect natural environments when they have received minimal or no exposure to such areas. There are many speculative explanations for this bifurcation between humans and nature; however, there is an absence of a solution to address the issue. Current research strongly emphasizes the health benefits of receiving more exposure to nature, especially since much of North America has witnessed a dramatic shift towards a more technologically driven culture that is heavily reliant on the urban environment. This study investigates the declining connections between humans and the natural world, and the effect nature-based experience has on individual perspectives regarding stewardship and environmental awareness. Utilizing qualitative research methods, interviews were conducted with nine participants of three different Outward Bound Canada expeditions in order to determine whether a trip of one week or longer had influenced participants’ sense of stewardship and/or environmental connectivity. Results demonstrate a positive correlation between participant exposures to isolated natural environments and an increased sense of environmental commitment or stewardship, especially with regard to forming connections with nature, willingness to participate in environmental-based volunteer initiatives, and mitigating fear of the outdoors.
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