resources for learning

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Circular structure - Coastal Maine

Some of the resources appearing in my blog and as curriculum for the field courses. Come back soon, the list is growing quickly!


  • The Biophilia Hypothesis ”Biophilia describes the connections that human beings subconsciously seek with the rest of life.”
  • Biomimicry “Seeking sustainable solutions by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies, e.g., a solar cell inspired by a leaf. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies—new ways of living—that are well-adapted to life on earth over the long haul.”
  • Shinrin-yokuIn Japan, a forest bathing trip, called Shinrin-yoku in Japanese, Sanlimyok in Korean, is a short, leisurely visit to a forest and is regarded as being similar to natural aromatherapy. A forest bathing trip involves visiting a forest for relaxation and recreation while breathing in volatile substances, called phytoncides (wood essential oils), which are antimicrobial volatile organic compounds derived from trees, such as a-pinene and limonene. Incorporating forest bathing trips into a good lifestyle was first proposed in 1982 by the Forest Agency of Japan. It has now become a recognized relaxation and/or stress management activity in Japan.


  • Your Brain on Nature by Eva Selhub and Alan Logan, 2012. A Harvard physician and a naturopath explore the scientific discoveries related to the way in which nature immersion and deprivation can work for or against us in our health and well-being. They also examine the ways in which a contemporary disconnection from nature, driven in part by screen-based gadgetry technology, may be shaping broad environmental attitudes and diminishing legitimate pro-environmental efforts.
  • The Shark’s Paintbrush by Jay Harman, 2013. ”This is a very exciting time in science and technology. I am inspired daily by the potential of applying nature’s lessons to design a new golden age for the earth and for humanity—a golden age that is not only possible but realistically achievable. Biomimicry will get us there.”
  • The Shape of Green: Aesthetics, Ecology, and Design by Lance Hosey, 2012.
  • Natures’s Patterns: A Tapestry in Three Parts by Philip Ball, 2009. Patterns are everywhere in nature – in the ranks of clouds in the sky, the stripes of an angelfish, the arrangement of petals in flowers. Where does this order and regularity come from? It creates itself. The patterns we see come from self-organization. Whether in living or non-living systems, there is a pattern-forming tendency inherent in the basic structure and processes of nature. From a few general themes and the repetition of simple rules, endless beautiful variations can arise.
  • The Wild Life of our Bodies by Rob Dunn, 2011. “We all know about the biodiversity crisis, but the related crises resulting from the changes in the kind of nature we interact with is similarly immediate… Our task now is to create a new kind of living world around ourselves, one that we interact with in many different ways, a living world that is not just the species that survive deforestation, antibiotics, and disturbance, but instead some more intelligent and lush garden. Let our lives again be where the wild things are.”
  • Survival of the Beautiful by David Rothenberg, 2011. “I believe attention to aesthetics and the evolution of beauty will help us go further. I will not claim that the best in human art can be explained by simple, evolutionary rules or principles. But I will investigate how the existence of art and beauty in the animal world brings up questions that our current theories have not adequately explained. I do not believe evolution as we know it can explain art, but a deeper consideration of art can enhance our understanding of evolution.”
  • Built by Animals: The Natural History of Animal Architecture by Mike Hansell, 2007
  • Biophilic Design by Stephen Kellert, Judith Heerwagen, Martin Mador, 2008
  • Ecology and Design: Frameworks for Learning by Bart Johnson and Kristina Hill, 2001


Atchley RA, Strayer DL, Atchley P (2012) Creativity in the Wild: Improving Creative Reasoning through Immersion in Natural Settings. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51474. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051474
Here we show that four days of immersion in nature, and the corresponding disconnection from multi-media and technology, increases performance on a creativity, problem-solving task by a full 50% in a group of naive hikers. Our results demonstrate that there is a cognitive advantage to be realized if we spend time immersed in a natural setting.”

Maller, C.,Townsend, M., Pryor, A., Brown, P., and St. Leger, L. Healthy nature healthy people: ‘contact with nature’ as an upstream health promotion intervention for populations. Health Promotion International. (March 2006) 21 (1): 45-54.
“This paper presents a summary of empirical, theoretical and anecdotal evidence drawn from a literature review of the human health benefits of contact with nature. Initial findings indicate that nature plays a vital role in human health and well-being, and that parks and nature reserves play a significant role by providing access to nature for individuals. Implications suggest contact with nature may provide an effective population-wide strategy in prevention of mental ill health, with potential application for sub-populations, communities and individuals at higher risk of ill health.”

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