Nature Therapy



Course Number



This course explores human relationships with the natural world at a time when our ecological stability and sustainability are in question. We examine biophilia, the innate need of humans to interact with nature and all life forms. We also investigate the historical and cultural influences leading to a perception of separation between humans and nature. Through examination of current research findings on the physical and mental health benefits derived from nature communion, we become aware of how well-being can be improved through these benefits. We can also discover how we may impacted by the loss of them, a phenomenon named Nature Deficit Disorder.

During our short quarter review of this complex topic, we stimulate our nature awareness through experiences that lead us to greater understanding. As we look at our individual connections to nature we will ask: How have we personally related to nature in our lives and what is the current state of our nature relationship? As we explore how to deepen our relationship with the natural world we focus on developing our senses and how we gain benefits from nature through sight, smell, touch and sound. We will learn about and experiment with some nature-based therapies such as Shinrin Yoku (Forest Bathing), ecotherapy, wilderness therapy and animal therapy. Finally, we ponder how we, as individuals and as a society, can heighten our relationship to nature and shift to practices that support all forms of life and a healthy environment.

Some other important questions we ask include: How did industrialized society get to this point and in what ways is this disconnection currently manifesting in our society? How have our modern science, technology and political systems contributed to creating or hindering ways to live in healthy cooperation with nature that feed our biophilic needs? How did colonization affect the indigenous and non-indigenous peoples’ relationship to nature? What can be learned from traditional ways of being that can help reinstate a balance of sustainable living in today’s world? How can we honor the land rights and natural ways of indigenous people and provide non-indigenous people with greater nature connection? Asking these and other questions begins an ongoing process of finding answers and continuing to ask more questions.


FAIR 206a or equivalent


Summer 2022

Course Instructor

Chris Brewer