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The Benefits of Nature on Our Well-being

Instructor: Jessica E. Desrochers, MESc

Description: Much research has shown the benefit of nature for our physical and mental well-being. This course explores these themes to investigate how we can all find ways to incorporate more nature in our lives and, potentially, see the benefit from doing so. Each week will feature a theme related to nature and well-being with lessons, discussions, and activities. 


May 25 – June 29, 2021 (6 classes)
Tuesdays: 11:30 am – 1:00 pm EST
Registration opens April 12, 2021 (8:30 am EST)

Topics in this course may include (but are not limited to):

Week 1 – Introduction
“In every walk in nature, one receives far more than he seeks” ~ John Meir

As we prepare for our six-week journey of talking about the benefits of nature, we must first define nature and what it means to us. Our discussions will be focused on describing nature, delightful places, connectedness to nature, and biophilia. 

Week 2 – Physical benefits of Nature
Nature is not only nice to have, but it’s a have-to-have for physical health and cognitive function.” ~ Richard Louv

This week we will discuss the physical benefits of nature. This will include such themes as the increased prevalence of doctors prescribing nature walks to their patients. We will be discussing nature’s benefits on stress reduction, cognitive improvements, the human body, and restoration of attention and concentration. 

Week 3 – Emotional benefits of Nature
I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees” ~ Henry David Thoreau

This week will discuss the emotional well-being benefits of nature. Research has shown that nature (in different forms) has been shown to increase mood, happiness, and overall subjective well-being. Additionally, we will look at how people may underestimate nature’s benefit on their mood. 

Week 4 – Community benefits of nature
Plant seeds of happiness, hope, success, and love; it will all come back to you in abundance. This is the law of nature.” ~ Steve Maraboli­a

After two weeks of discussing the individual benefits of nature, this week, we will focus on the greater community benefits of nature. Our discussion will focus on quality of life, community cohesion, pro-sociality, neighborhood safety, culture, infrastructure, community gardens, and nature equity. 

Week 5 – Environmentalism
We must cherish the natural world because we’re a part of it and we depend on it.” ~ David Attenborough 

Moving to the broader community of the environment itself, this week we will be looking at the benefits and potential consequences of human interaction with nature. Our discussion will focus on how our engagement with nature may help to promote environmentalism, and how it is important to be aware of the ecosystems we are entering.

Week 6 – Bringing everything together
No matter where I roam, when I’m with plants I’ll be at home” ~ Robin Wall Kimmerer

To cap off the course, we will discuss how we can find ways to incorporate nature into our daily lives. Studies have shown that people spend 90% of their time indoors, which Richard Louv would describe as a nature deficit disorder. Let’s find ways to increase our Vitamin N (nature) to combat this disorder. This may look like exploring local nature, gardening, watching nature documentaries, or even buying more house plants. We will focus on how to take the information we’ve acquired in the class, and how to implement it into our own lives.  

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Carleton University
330 Paterson Hall
1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, ON, K1S 5B6
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Phone: 613-520-2355