Sustainable green Europe

in which all young people are environmentally active, educated and able to make a difference in their everyday lives – is one of the main youth goals.

To answer this, young people need to develop a sense of nature connectedness, which means they become more aware of their impact on the environment, and they include nature as part of their identity.

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Relationship with nature

A new concept called Nature intelligence

Our results will serve this purpose, by focusing on how youth workers, trainers and youth organisations can develop nature connectedness and promote nature intelligence in young people. Based on the inputs of the theoretical framework and on the current practices and experiences of the project partners, the publication we will create will include a needs assessment tool that youth workers can use to identify the nature intelligence competences and innovative strategies, methods, and tools to support young people in nurturing their gratitude and respect towards nature and in developing their environmental citizenship.

The same publication with its strategies, methods, tools, and practices, will also serve as the base for the creation of a pilot training, combining online self-paced and on-site learning, that aims at testing the resonance and outcomes of the identified tools.

The publication will also include selected embodied routines that can support the daily practices of the persons targeted by the pilot course. This will guarantee access to the resources also after the project ends, thus making the learning more sustainable.

The publication will be available in English free of charge and easily downloadable from our website.

Our project outputs

In our first product, we aim to lay a solid theoretical foundation for this brand-new concept of Nature Intelligence. We will bring together scientific knowledge, insights from experienced youth workers and the thoughts and perceptions of young people.

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After exploration of the topic of nature intelligence and creating the curriculum we would like to send these outcomes out to the world, so that they can serve the wider public. We will organise testing residential course with the first group of youth workers, who would like to develop their competences in promoting and facilitating nature intelligence development in their communities.

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Our past experiences changed the way we learn, that is why we decided to develop an online training course for all of you who cannot be present on our residential training course or you want to learn your own way. We are currently developing the concept of nature intelligence in youth work and when we do, our next step is to develop a residential training course.

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What is our understanding of NQ?

In our understanding Nature Intelligence (NQ) fits within a broader view of intelligence as a multiple set of abilities and it’s a new concept that builds upon existing ideas on intelligence in general (you can read more about this in the theoretical framework). This moves us to assume that NQ is a capacity that is both an inherited potential and an acquired competence. It can, as such, be effectively influenced by educational programs, habits and context.

We defined Nature Intelligence as the capacity of individuals to identify themselves as part of the natural world and to experience feelings of care and respect for it. It is the capacity of knowing and deeply understanding its cycles and to use this knowledge to actively promote sustainable changes when it comes to the well-being of individuals, society, the planet and the ecosystem.

Within this broader view, NQ in itself can be seen as a multidimensional concept that combines nature-based competences in the cognitive, emotional, spiritual and action domains.

Graphically, NQ is represented by a flower with four petals, each of them representing 4 key dimensions that are comprised with the following specific competencies.

Action

is the ability to use emotional, cognitive and spiritual competencies for regulating one’s own health and the planet’s health, as well as for socializing with peers. The competencies within this dimension are:

  • Health: recognising and using the relaxing and empowering capacities of nature for self-regulation and health
  • Engagement: being motivated and capable to engage in actions that make the planet greener and more sustainable
  • Socialization: choosing nature as a place to spend time with friends and using a shared interest for nature to strengthen connections with peers
Emotion

reflects a sensation of kinship and an affective individual experience of connection with nature, both psychologically and physically, through direct embodied experience and an open-mind to the pleasant as well as the challenging and more uneasy side of nature. The competencies within this dimension are:

  • Connectedness: it’s about identifying oneself as part of nature, sincerely caring for other living beings, living in harmony and balance with nature.
  • Embodiment: a direct connection with nature through physical contact, which also implies resilience against more adverse conditions in nature, such as bad weather or dirt
  • Open-mindedness: it’s about enjoying all aspects of nature, even the things that might be scary or disgusting
Spirit

refers to a feeling of transcendence and interconnectedness, based on the realization that the natural world that surrounds us is alive and intelligent, just as humans are. The competencies within this dimension are:

  • Transcendence: a ‘flow experience’ (also known as ‘magical moments’ or ‘peak experiences’) during which one feels lifted beyond the hustle and bustle of daily life and connected to something bigger
  • Mindfulness: having a mindful sensory experience of nature
  • Authenticity: the capacity to be true to oneself, to be an authentic person guided by one’s own inner principles, as a precondition for, and outcome of, spiritual experiences with nature
Cognition

taps into the intuitive and experiential competencies of environmental knowledge, attitudes and behaviours. These include:

  • Literacy: an intuitive understanding of the dimensions, elements, patterns and processes of nature
  • Curiosity: an interest in nature and awareness of the intrinsic value of nature
  • Outdoor skills: having practical knowledge and basic skills for staying outdoors and living in nature