Teaching and Learning in Nearby Nature
The Arrow: A Journal of Wakeful Society, Culture & Politics
How can we engage the tension that environmental degradation and meaningful remediation efforts co-exist in the same space? In this documentary account, I describe a weekend mini-course I developed and taught to support undergraduate students in exploring former industrial sites that have been redesigned as earthworks, parks, or public walkways. I share conceptual frameworks for learning and reflection in nearby nature and describe how I purposefully selected sites for exploration. Strategies I used to foster a culture of contemplation and reflection are documented. Finally, I consider the tensions in students’ written reflections and identify patterns in student learning. Students found new appreciation for nearby urban parks and green spaces, often re-thinking the idea that one must visit "wilderness" to experience a connection to nature. They also debated whether restoration efforts should focus on restoring sites to some ecological ideal or leave visible evidence of past environmental degradation.
Ryken, A. E. (2017). Teaching and learning in nearby nature. The Arrow: A Journal of Wakeful Society, Culture & Politics, 4 (1), 33-52.