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Five pathways to nature connectedness

What are the five pathways to nature connectedness? In this article, the University of Derby introduces you to this exciting topic.
© University of Derby

In this step, we will introduce you to the five pathways of nature.

Before we start exploring the background of the five pathways to nature connectedness, you could watch the following video as a short introduction to the topic of this step.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Now that you’ve watched a video about the five pathways to nature connectedness, we will pause to consider the origins of this framework. The Pathways to Nature Connectedness Framework (Lumber et al., 2017) drew upon the Biophilia Hypothesis (Kellert, 1993), which has nine values that are listed below. You may remember two of these values below from week 3. According to Kellert (1993), we have an innate tendency to focus on life and there is a basic human need to connect to other forms of life. This hypothesis explains the types of ways people affiliate with nature based upon what would have been useful for the survival of our ancestors. Biophilia is therefore hardwired within us. While there is debate about how it is passed on from generation to generation, it is likely passed on through learning via our experiences (Simaika and Samways, 2010) as a form of prepared learning (Wilson, 2002) with everyone possessing the capacity to relate to nature through the following Biophilic values:

  1. Utilitarian (using nature for sustenance and survival)
  2. Dominionistic (controlling nature for our purposes)
  3. Naturalistic (pleasure from contact with nature)
  4. Ecologistic-Scientific (scientific study of nature and natural systems)
  5. Humanistic (an emotional bond with, and love for nature)
  6. Moralistic (ethical concern/judgements and revering of nature)
  7. Symbolic (expressing ideas through nature-based language and metaphor)
  8. Negativistic (aversion, fear and avoidance of nature)
  9. Aesthetic (the appeal from nature’s beauty)

We need to remember that the Biophilia Hypothesis is not easy to test (Kahn, 1999) but it has been useful to trigger research into nature connectedness. Although you may have noticed that Biophilia has some similarities with nature connectedness, it cannot fully capture our current relationship with nature.

In the following steps, we will demonstrate how the Pathways Framework describes ways we can form a reconnected relationship with nature in an effective and accessible way. In the next step, you will have the opportunity to share your own nature story.

Reference list

Kahn, P. H. (1999) The human relationship with nature: Development and culture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Kellert, S. H. (1993) The biological basis for human values of nature. In: S. H. Kellert & E. O. Wilson (eds) The biophilia hypothesis. Washington D.C: Island.

Lumber, R., Richardson, M., & Sheffield, D. (2017) Beyond knowing nature: Contact, emotion, compassion, meaning, and beauty are pathways to nature connection, PLoS One, 12, e0177186. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0177186.

Simaika, J. P. & Samways, M. J. (2010) Biophilia as a universal ethic for conserving biodiversity, Conservation Biology: The Journal of the Society for Conservation Biology, 24(3), 903–906. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2010.01485.x.

Wilson, E. O. (2002). The future of life. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

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