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Rob Efird – Nature for Nurture: Environmental Education, Nature Experience, and the Healthy Chinese Child
September 13, 2018 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Speaker: Robert Efird, Professor of Anthropology and Asian studies, Seattle University
For the past 15 years, the Chinese Ministry of Education’s attempt to promote environmental education in public schools has faced nearly insurmountable structural obstacles. By contrast, there is a growing popular embrace of the value of nature exposure for children’s health and well-being. Drawing upon nearly a decade of fieldwork, this talk discusses the challenges that formal environmental education has faced in China, as well as the reasons behind the rise of “nature education” (ziran jiaoyu), the proliferation of “nature schools” (ziran xuexiao) and the revival of natural history (bowuxue). In particular, we will explore how these developments are related to new ideas concerning children’s healthy development, including the concept of “nature-deficit disorder” (ziran queshizheng) popularized by American journalist Richard Louv.
Rob Efird is Professor of Anthropology and Asian Studies at Seattle University. His research on environmental learning in China includes several book chapters, articles in the Journal of Contemporary China and Environmental Education Research, and a co-edited volume (with John Chi-Kin Lee) entitled Schooling for Sustainable Development Across the Pacific (Springer, 2014). He spent a year in Kunming as a Fulbright Senior Research Scholar during 2011-2012, and was a National Committee on U.S.-China Relations Public Intellectual Program Fellow from 2014 to 2016.
Discussant: Robert Weller, Professor of Anthropology, Boston University
Dr. Robert Weller’s work concentrates on China and Taiwan in comparative perspective. His actual research topics, however, are eclectic—running from ghosts to politics, rebellions to landscape paintings. Perhaps what unites everything is an interest in finding the limits to authority in all its settings.