Strategic partnership: Nature Intelligence

About our starting point

Academic field of environmental psychology has been researching people`s lack of engagement and active citizenship when regarding the environment. One of the reasons for this is a lack of nature connectedness. Nature connectedness is described as the extent to which individuals include nature as part of their identity. It includes an understanding of nature and everything it is made up of, even the parts that are not pleasing.

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Our project addresses nature intelligence, which is rather new concept that aims to develop a cognitive, emotional, behavioural, and intuitive understanding of the natural world and its interconnectedness with human life. Howard Garner in his theory of multiple intelligence used naturalistic intelligence and Daniel Goleman wrote about ecological intelligence. The nature intelligence is a concept that is closely linked to these two concepts but includes the whole array of human functioning such as cognition, emotions, behaviour, intuition. Nature intelligence offers a practical approach to develop a before mentioned nature connectedness, but also more concepts that are relevant for raising awareness and understanding nature.

 

About the project

Our project is aiming to contribute to a green and sustainable Europe. Our mission is to develop a theoretical and practical understanding of how to promote environmental sustainability in European youth work. We are also focused to provide a non-formal educational approach for youth workers to work with young people on the development of their competences in environmental sustainability. This will help us to empower young people with competences that enable them to increase their impact and raise their voices on the environmental practices and policies in Europe. Overall, our project is helping us promote the mental health of young people through a stronger nature connectedness and consequently strengthen the collaboration and involvement of the partners in European youth work.

About the content

Based on a review of the literature and input  from partner organizations, NQ was conceptualized as a multidimensional concept that describes young people’s relationship with nature in terms of four domains of competencies: Cognitive competencies (Literacy, Interest, Skills), Emotional competencies (Connectedness, Embodiment, Open-Mindedness), Spiritual competencies (Transcendence, Mindfulness, Authenticity) and Action competencies (use of nature for Health, Engagement, and Socializing). The four domains of competencies can be graphically represented in a flower model, with NQ in the heart of the flower as an emergent property.

To understand nature intelligence better, we researched various approaches such as environmental education, connectedness to nature, peak experiences, restorative environments research, nature-based therapies, and pro-environmental behaviour. All these approaches have five similarities that explain NQ:

  • active bodily engagement with nature,
  • free time in nature,
  • a balance between social and individual activities,
  • taking away excessive fears, and
  • exposing participants to a diversity of environments, including green spaces in the direct living environment.

 (From out theoretical framework)

About our future work

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We set several goals within this project, and some are still to be reached. Apart from the theoretical framework which is being proof-read, we have already developed and tested a self-assessment test that offers you to check the level of your own nature intelligence. This self-assessment test serves as an indicator which competences in the frame of nature intelligence you should focus next.

In addition to that, we are developing a list of principles that will guide trainers and youth workers when creating youth activities that contribute to nature intelligence in young people. In April 2022, we plan to organise a training course for youth workers to become more fluent in fostering nature intelligence in young people. As a result, we will publish a fully constructed programme for such training course that can be used in the future. And for all people who learn through other people`s reflections, we plan to prepare a set of inspirational stories and articles that address different aspects of nature intelligence.

 

You can follow our progress also on our website.

About the Partnership

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Our partnership reflects the variety and unique contribution to the project’s products. Up to now we have partners that work with positive psychology, nature coaching and Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence. Our partners have experience with the promotion of nature connectedness through a cognitive, emotional, behavioural, or intuitive approach in youth work and will make a unique contribution to the quality of the project. This project not only brings a new holistic framework, but also provides opportunity to personal and professional development of the staff involved. Apart from Ambitia Institute, the project partners are Anatta Foundation from Netherlands, A.S.D. Kamaleonte from Italy, CIA Cekija from Czech Republic and Stichting IVN from Netherlands. Project has been supported by the Erasmus + programme.