Children’s Connections to the Natural World — The Development of ‘Earth Stewards’

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Today’s environmental breakdown crisis and the fact that more and more children are cut-off from experiencing nature directly makes it imperative that we better understand how best to support caring connections between children and the natural world.  My main interest is in understanding the processes by which a child or teenager goes from being connected to the natural world to taking up the life purpose of caring for the natural world — by becoming an earth steward.   No doubt, there are different pathways to becoming an earth steward, and no doubt, the endpoints of these pathways differ from one another. But they all have in common the development of a passion for caring for the natural world, and they all indicate a keen awareness of our smallness and interdependence — an awareness absent when taking anthropocentric perspectives on the natural world.

To contribute the field of environmental education, several years ago, a core team and I created an online resource for environmental educators and all those who share this commitment to fostering children’s development as earth stewards.  The resource is called Tomorrow’s Earth Stewards (https://sites.tufts.edu/earthstewards/). It continues to grow and hopefully will continue to provide good resources for a great many.