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Associate Professor Emily Nelson at EIT's Ōtātara Outdoor Learning Centre

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  • Thu 8 Aug 2024, 5:00pm–7:00pm


All Ages


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Learning in Nature: Emerging Values, Visions, Cautions and Potential
EIT’s Associate Professor Emily Nelson will speak on her Learning in Nature research, which began life as a developmental evaluation of the establishment of EIT’s Ōtātara Outdoor Learning Centre and was conducted jointly by Dr Nelson and Professor Bronwen Cowie, University of Waikato. The centre promotes biodiversity management, connection to nature and sustainable futures and was sponsored by the Air NZ Environment Trust and spearheaded by Ngāti Pārau, Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and the Department of Conservation.
Dr Nelson will explore the value gained by educational groups who visited the Ōtātara Outdoor Learning Centre over the 2020/21 period. In particular she will reflect on the perspectives on learning in and connecting to nature shared by local primary school students and their teachers. At a time when we are grappling with a global ecological crisis and growing disconnection from nature in our daily lives, the stakes for connecting with nature are high. Young people are positioned increasingly as the hope for humanity’s future but beyond adult-centric agendas, the Learning in Nature research paints a refreshing picture of human and more-than-human agency, very personal connections with the land and its inhabitants at Ōtātara and children’s bespoke visions for their futures. Dr Nelson will reflect on her findings in relation to current educational policy that appears to marginalise some of the values emerging as important from the Learning in Nature project. She will conclude by presenting provocations for thinking about learning in nature gained through engaging with the contested ground of environmental education and considering what these provocations might mean for initiatives such as the Ōtātara Outdoor Learning Centre in future.

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