CoursesNature RX
EDUC 2500

Nature RX

This course is designed to introduce students to an emerging field, one that explores the connections between nature and human health. A growing body of literature suggests that exposure to natural settings supports human health in a variety of ways. The healing powers of nature appear to be demonstrable scientifically, with research studies spanning various aspects of social, mental, and physical health. The course also invites students to consider the ways in which humans can contribute to the healing of ecosystems. Contemplative practices (e.g., meditation, journaling) will be woven throughout. The course will be linked to the Nature Rx@Penn Program, with opportunities for active and experiential learning.

 

Tuesdays, 3:30 PM – 6:29 PM

The course is conceived as having three main components: 1) conventional didactic learning; 2) contemplative pedagogy; 3) learning through dialog and action. The didactic portion of the course will cover the literature on nature and human health, biophilia, ecological literacy, and ecological sustainability. These are distinct but overlapping areas of academic study important to build knowledge. Secondly, students will be invited to deepen their comprehension with contemplative practices designed to invite reflection on our relationship with nature. Such practices include walking meditations in nature, contemplative journaling, mindful photography (using smart phones), and similar experiences designed to allow students to cultivate present moment awareness in natural settings. Finally, a good portion of the course will be devoted to small group dialog grounded in the principles of mindful communication (especially active listening). Students will be invited to share their insights regarding humankind’s relationship to nature, the campus’ relationship to local ecosystems, environmental justice issues raised in the literature or their own experience, and large issues facing us today, such as how best to address and communicate about the climate crisis. These will be coupled with active-learning opportunities at the Penn Farm and elsewhere. These community-building experiences will help students perceive the interconnections we often overlook: our connections to the natural world, to our inner life, and to one another.

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