Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society

Breadcrumb Navigation


Learning Nature(s): A Cross-Cultural Investigation of Children and Nature(s)

“Learning Nature(s): A Cross-Cultural Investigation of Children and Nature(s)” is a five-year research project (2021–26) funded by the Volkswagen Foundation. It is carried out by a team of researchers based at the Rachel Carson Center, LMU Munich, and led by Francesca Mezzenzana.

“Learning Nature(s)” suggests that we need to rethink our relationship with nature. It is the first large-scale comparative study to examine how specific practices of socialization, material engagements, and direct and indirect interactions with natural entities shape children’s understandings and relationships with the non-human world. It focuses on a variety of different cultural understandings of natural entities and their ethical implications: whether we consider a plant a sentient being or not, for instance, shapes the way we morally relate to it.

By integrating methods from anthropology and psychology, the project compares children’s experiences of learning about nature in three communities committed to creating alternative relationships to the nonhuman world: an environmentally aware urban kindergarten in Germany, a utopian ecovillage in Italy, and an Indigenous village in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Focusing on the cultural, social, and political processes that inform children’s learning about nature, the project aims to make ground-breaking advances in understandings of how humans learn to attend to the natural world.

Project website: https://www.learningnatures.com/