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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Peter H. Kahn
PSYCH 563
Seattle Campus

Developmental Psychology and the Human Relationship with Nature

Theories of development used to investigate the ontogenesis of the human relationship with nature. An emphasis on social cognition, children's environmental moral reasoning, the effects of technology in children's lives, and evolutionary theory. Offered: W.

Class description

In this seminar, we investigate the following questions:

•What are the evolutionary origins of the human relationship with nature? •How do people form environmental commitments and sensibilities, and reason about environmental issues? • Do animals provide a means by which children come to care about non-sentient nature? And about other humans? •How does culture affect environmental commitments and sensibilities? •Are there universal features in children's relationship with nature? •How does effective environmental education build on a constructivist psychology? • To what extent do we, as a species, still need direct contact with the “wild” – that which is untamed, unmanaged, not encompassed, self-organizing, and unencumbered and unmediated by technological artifice? •What is the significance of increasing children’s and adults’ exposure to nature through technologically mediated interactions: e.g., through watching the “Nature Channel,” or “farming” in Farmville, or “gardening” in a Telegarden, or bonding with a robotic pet? Even partial answers to these questions have enormous significance in areas such as child rearing, education, land use and urban planning, and the design of the natural and human built environment.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Intense, intellectually grounded, wonderful engaged discussion. A little bit of "lecture."

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Peter H. Kahn
Date: 05/20/2013