Talks

last updated 2024-05-02

 

Recordings of Talks

Saving our pale blue dot: The importance of nature connectedness for pro-nature behaviour.
University of Pennsylvania: Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) - MAPPsters for a Flourising Planet Speaker Series
April 20, 2024

It took Carl Sagan almost 9 years to convince NASA to have the Voyager 1 spaceprobe take a final image of Earth before it powered down its cameras to conserve energy for its mission into interstellar space. As a scientist, Sagan knew that the photo would yield little in the way of scientific value. But as an astronomer and visionary, he knew that the photo would strike a chord deep within people. Of awe, of wonder, of fragility, of humility. The pale blue dot image from 1990 helped to plant a seed of awareness that we need to actively care for this one planet, our Earth, that we all call home. But how best can we engender such pro-nature action? On Monday, April 22, 2024, people around the globe will observe the 54th anniversary of Earth Day. We will be reminded of the importance of environmental conservation and sustainability. Much knowledge will be disseminated about we can best do that, about which actions we can—individually and collectively—engage in to help protect this pale blue dot we all live on. BUT, this focus on knowledge may actually be missing the mark. Action follows from caring, and caring is borne of connection. Thus it a sense of connection—specifically nature connection—that this talk will focus on. Why? Because a solid body of research clearly shows that it is nature connectedness that drives pro-nature behaviour, that it is nature connectedness that stirs us to action. You will learn what the construct of nature connectedness is, how it is related to the wellbeing of individuals and the planet, and what the five main pathways to enhance nature connectedness are. Evidence from nature-based wellbeing interventions will be presented, including discussion of interventions utilizing the science of character strengths to enhance nature connectedness. We will also turn our gaze to the stars and briefly delve into new research on Night Sky Nature Connectedness. All in hopes of fostering your connection with nature, to the particulars of nature all around us, to the only home we know, our pale blue dot.

Watch Video [53 minutes]

Nature-based wellbeing interventions: Grounded in evidence.
University of Washington: Nature & Health Speaks Series
October 11, 2022

As a wellbeing researcher, a substantial focus of mine is examining the relationship between the beyond-human natural world and our emotional and psychological wellbeing. I am particularly interested in developing and validating practical nature-based wellbeing interventions along the lines of a Positive Psychology Intervention (PPI: brief, self-administered, practical exercises or activities intentionally designed to facilitate wellbeing). In this talk, I will present evidence from a series of research studies involving the validation of such nature-based PPIs—interventions which involve more than simply asking people to “spend more time in nature”. I will also address why engaging with nature is often overlooked as a pathway to wellbeing, the extent to which it is under appreciated, and how the concept of nature and nature-based wellbeing interventions are commonly misunderstood. Future research directions in this area of nature-based PPIs will be discussed. To provide context, a brief overview of the Eco-Existential Positive Psychology framework, which grounds much of my work, will be provided. Questions and comments are most welcome!

Watch Video [54 minutes]

Nature-based wellbeing interventions: Simple, yet powerful.
International Summer School: Zhejian University, China
June 30, 2022

The belief that connecting with the natural world is beneficial to our well-being has surfaced repeatedly throughout human history and across diverse cultures. Empirical evidence is consistent, strong, and clear: engaging with nature boosts well-being. Happiness, satisfaction with life, meaning in life, vitality, connectedness, and elevation are all positively linked to nature engagement. Based on a wealth of evidence, researchers have made a case for relating to nature as a basic human psychological need in its own right. In this talk, a broad overview of the research in this area with be presented, with a particular emphasis on recent applied research examining nature-based well-being interventions. A general overview of theories will also be presented which ground research in this area and help to explain why engaging with nature is beneficial to our wellbeing. The construct of nature connectedness will be discussed, as will the problematic issue of conflating nature connectedness with time in nature. Questions and discussion are encouraged!

Watch Video [77 minutes]

The tree at the bus stop: The importance of nearby nature to our individual and social wellbeing.
On the Edge series: Edmonton Public Library
June 27, 2022

Evidence is consistent, strong, and clear: engaging with nature is good for us. Yet the impact that everyday nature has on our wellbeing is generally under appreciated and misunderstood. In this talk, research findings will be presented which demonstrate how everyday nature benefits our individual and social well-being, along with a general overview of theories explaining why engaging with nature is beneficial. Implications for public policy will be discussed. Evidence-based, practical nature-based wellbeing interventions that you can engage in will also be presented. In general, this presentation will help you gain a deeper understanding of the many rich and complex ways that everyday nature—including the tree at the bus stop—provides us more with than meets the eye.

Watch Video Enter passcode: gsT95MS# [82 minutes]

Grounding Oneself and Transcending Oneself: Evidence for nature as a pathway to wellbeing.
Science Talk: Spirituality & Meaning Division - International Positive Psychology Association
March 29, 2022

The belief that connecting with the natural world is beneficial to our well-being has surfaced repeatedly throughout human history and across diverse cultures. Over half a century ago, Erich Fromm asserted that as humans we ground our sense of identity and belonging in relating to nature. More recently, researchers have made a case for relating to nature as a basic human psychological need in its own right. Relating to nature appears to both ground us and to help us transcend our limited selves. For example, validated measures of spiritual well-being, spirituality, and spiritual transcendence commonly include items relating to nature. Research in the scientific study of well-being has demonstrated that happiness, satisfaction with life, connectedness, and elevation are all positively linked to nature engagement. In this webinar, a broad overview of the research in this area with be presented, with a particular emphasis on recent applied research examining nature-based well-being interventions.

Watch Video [62 minutes]

Nature Connectedness & Eco-Anxiety: Why you should care if you’re working to improve sustainability.
McNeil Center for Applied Renewable Energey (C.A.R.E.) Seminar Series
March 24, 2022

The current climate and environmental crises we are facing is an ecosocial crisis beyond any humanity has yet encountered. The pace of change in our environment that we are needing to adapt to is now occurring at an unprecedented rate and and on an unprecedented scale. Whether you are focusing on renewable energy sources, sustainable business practices, pro-environmental behaviour, or pro-nature conservation behaviour – what grounds all of this is the human—nature connection. This talk focuses on the importance of nature connectedness, its flip-side, eco-anxiety, and why these psychological constructs are vital to consider when working towards a sustainable future.

Watch Video [69 minutes]

The science and psychology of the nature—wellbeing relationship
Concordia University of Edmonton: CUE Commitment
November 18, 2021

The belief that connecting with the natural world is beneficial to our well-being has surfaced repeatedly throughout human history, and across diverse cultures. Research in the scientific study of well-being over the past two decades has clearly, and consistently, evidenced that engaging with nature boosts many aspects of well-being. This talk presents a broad overview of the research in this area, with a particular emphasis on recent applied research examining nature-based well-being interventions.

Watch Video [36 minutes]

Hope, despair, and re-connection: An interactive exploration of our relationship with nature.
International Meaning Events & Community (IMEC): Festival of Hope & Despair
October 23, 2021

A myriad of writers, poets, musicians, artists, philosophers, and psychologists have explored the essential importance of our relationship with the greater-than-human natural world. The past few decades have also produced a wealth of scientific research consistently evidencing the important role that nature plays in our mental health health and well-being. From merely noticing how nature makes us feel to spending time in nature, engaging and connecting with nature has been shown to enhance a wide range of positive emotions, boost our sense of connectedness to the world, and relieve feelings of stress and anxiety. At the same time, we are currently living through an era of unprecedented degradation and disturbance of natural environments and ecosystems worldwide. The resultant loss of biodiversity and possibly immanent climate collapse leaves many of us with heightened levels of eco-anxiety and even despair. As existential psychologist Rollo May (1953) emphasized, humankind and nature are inseparable, interconnected entities. In this 90-minute workshop, we explore our connection to the beyond-human natural world. Participants will engage in interactive experiences including: assessing one’s connection to nature; exploring emotions evoked by nature; and learning about theoretical perspectives and the latest scientific findings regarding why and how nature impacts our well-being. Nature-related literature, poetry, music, art, and film clips will be utilized as mediums as we explore our human—nature relationship.

Watch Video [63 minutes]

Making nature your story: Moving forward to a new relationship with nature.
The Embodiment Conference
October 22, 2020

Panel presentation. Speakers:

  • Dr. John Zelenski: Nature Relatedness: Connecting people, nature,well-being, & sustainability [1:34 to 13:18]
  • Professor Miles Richardson: Pathways to Enhancing Nature Connectedness [13:19 to 25:07]
  • Dr. Holli-Anne Passmore: Eco-anxiety: A Cascade of Fundamental Existential Anxieties [25:08 to 38:53]
  • Questions and Answer: [38:54 to 56:40]
Watch Video [56 minutes]

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