More Nature, Deeper Education - NVTL

More Nature, Deeper Education

wo 26 april 2023

Towards nature-inclusive education:
How transformative nature experiences catalyze sustainability awareness

The integration of nature in daily life is key in transforming towards global sustainability. Yet students generally report a disconnect from the green outdoors. If they are to be the future green leaders, shouldn’t the experience of and reflection on their connection with nature be part of their educational path? For this dialogue, we invite students, educators and policy makers to explore potential of nature-inclusive education at Wageningen University and beyond.

Newly appointed professor at WUR of the special chair Human-Nature Relationships in the Anthropocene prof. Maria Tengö shares her address, next to prof. Noelle Aarts as the domain leader on education and awareness for the LNV programme ‘Nature Inclusive’. Check out the interactive programme for the rest of the speakers.

We look forward to welcoming you in Omnia on Wageningen Campus, on 26 April from 12:30 to 17:00h. Feel free to share this invite amongst those that matter to you and care for the future of education.

“We hope to initiate a broad conversation among educators on the emerging trends and potential impact of nature-positive education in an academic context.” – Paul Roncken, lecturer landscape architecture and director Stichting Natuurcollege

What’s happening?

The last years, several elective courses popped-up at Wageningen University that offer embodied outdoor education allowing students to question their worldview and values relating to sustainability. You may think of ‘Anthropology of basic nature skills’ and ‘Wild perspectives’ (FNP) or ‘Regenerative culture for sustainability’ (ELS).

The demand for these courses is high, and students describe a transformative effect of these learning experiences. But one could also argue that the elective origin of these courses is sufficient in an academic contexts. Let’s explore what this would mean for the future of education, at WUR and beyond. Could this be the essential key for Wageningen University to support its students in developing a life-lasting sustainability mindset? Or does a university have other roles?

What are we discussing?

With this unique dialogue, we aim to create new connections and be of inspiration. We do that by introducing several viewpoints, including those from a national perspective and simply by evaluating those courses that have already started on a local scale. It promises to become an exciting and interactive afternoon. We propose the following proposition, to be explored from different perspectives:

“Wageningen education should train students in three key competencies for sustainable leadership”

  1. Learning with and in nature: Physical, embodied outdoor learning
  2. Being able to investigate and question different perspectives and worldviews on the relationship between men and nature
  3. The student’s ability to reflect on their (inner/emotional) relationship to the (natural) world and what is going on in it.

Let’s explore collaboratively if, how, why, to what extend and under what circumstances we agree or disagree with this proposition. In dialogue we do not aim to come to a final decision or compromise, but to explore different perspectives.


by Nature College and Omnia: setting the stakes of the conversation: the potential impact of nature-inclusive learning methods in boosting awareness around pressing sustainability issues.
Prof. Noelle Aarts (Radboud University Nijmegen), expert on conflict, negotiation, communication and dialogue and the newly appointed domain leader for the LNV program ‘nature-inclusive’: pillar education and awareness.
Prof. Maria Tengö, newly appointed professor of the WUR/NatureCollege special chair Human-Nature Relationships in the Anthropocene.
introducing three WUR elective courses: setting an image of what nature-inclusive education looks like concretely, including: student experiences.
with embodied nature assignment to the participants and exchange on nature-experience
on Nature-inclusive education. Fishbowl, starting with 6-7 participants, then inviting others to take a seat on the empty chairs to join the dialogue.
Proposition for the dialogue: ‘We are lacking training in key competencies in the Wageningen curriculum’:
Learning with and in nature: physical, embodied outdoor learning
Being able to investigate and question different perspectives and worldviews
The student’s ability to reflect on their (inner/emotional) relationship to the world and what is going on in it.
These competencies are relevant and urgent because:
Wageningen University wants to educate professionals for this day-and age that are able to contribute to solutions to pressing global issues.
There is a growing demand among existing and prospective students for more holistic education that does not only address cognitive learning, but includes personal growth, wellbeing and leadership topics.
making new friends, creating pathways for collaboration and exchange.