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The Aesthetic Values of Walking in the Forest: Sensing the Meaning of Trees for Human Well-Being. A Phenomenological Study of People’s Relations with Plants and Places in a Forest

Konferensbidrag (offentliggjort, men ej förlagsutgivet)
Författare Margaretha Häggström
Publicerad i InSEA Congress, Daegu 2017 Spirit Art Digital
Publiceringsår 2017
Publicerad vid Institutionen för didaktik och pedagogisk profession
Språk en
Länkar www.insea2017.org/download/InSEA201...
Ämnesord Plant Blindness, Sustainability, walk-and-talk-interview
Ämneskategorier Pedagogiskt arbete, Utbildningsvetenskap


In our time when people live in urban environment to a great extent, knowledge of the importance of plants for life on earth seems to decrease. Despite our obvious dependence on plants, we seem to develop so called plant blindness, i.e. inability to see plants, understanding plant functions, appreciating the aesthetic values of plants and an anthropocentric view of plants as inferior to animals (Wandersee & Schussler, 1999). In our technological time, children today are increasingly alienated from the natural world (Louv, 2010) and we need to take action to prevent this blindness and alienation (Struwe, Poster, Howe, Zambell & Sweeny, 2014). Teacher education plays a key role regarding students´ awareness of plants and their importance to life on earth. In accordance with The World Wide Fund for nature and UNESCO, teacher education and elementary schools need to discover meaningful, positive and constructive activities and sustainable teaching methods regarding nature science (WWF, 2010, UNESCO, 2009). Art-based environmental education is one example of such methods. Research on human's relations to nature may help finding ways to promote sustainable development. It is particularly important that people early in their lives develop relations with nature and plants in order to participate in the creation of a sustainable future. The purpose of this paper is to present and discuss the findings from a study investigating people’s relations with forests and trees based on walk-and-talk-interviews in the forest in a one-to-one-situation, and a questionnaire that was located in the middle of a forest, in a tree, far from society. Research questions are: • Why do people visit the specific location in the forest? • How do people, who frequently visit this location, relate to nature and plants? • How do these people experience their stay in the forest? This study is part of the project Beyond ´Plant Blindness´: Seeing the importance of plants for a sustainable world financed by the Swedish Research Council, which is based on the hypothesis that multimodal and sensoric experiences in nature environments such as a forest might create shifts in perception away from plant blindness towards seeing the importance of plants for a sustainable world (Sanders, 2014). Theory: The study is based on a life-world phenomenological approach. Results: People who frequently walk in the forest develop strong relations to forest and a sustainable sensibility and awareness. The aesthetic values of being in the forest are essential. This paper will give examples of how this is manifested.

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