4-Week Nature Education Training

Bold lime green text at the top says, "Nature Education" and the square photo below is of a pair of open hands holding a butterfly. Under the photo is white text about the course that is included in the body of the post. At the bottom of the graphic, are the Civic Ecology Lab and Cornell University logos

Date and Time:

Monday, July 11, 2022, 9:00am

Registration Deadline:

Monday, July 11, 2022, 9:00am



Nature experiences can be educational, joyful, and comforting, especially in today’s urbanizing and post-pandemic world. Nature education brings people closer to nature and thus contributes to human well-being, including physical and mental health. This course will introduce you to diverse nature education practices, including programs run by urban and wilderness nature centers, unstructured play time for children, adventure and outdoor education programs, educational experiences in national parks, forest schools, as well as citizen science and environmental stewardship programs that incorporate nature-based experiences. 

Topics include personal and community benefits of nature education, cultural ecosystem services, traditional and novel approaches to nature experiences, and challenges and critiques of nature education. Based on research and practice examples, this course is designed to help educators, volunteers, community leaders, parents and anyone else to gain professional credentials in nature education, and to incorporate nature in their educational programs and everyday life.


An experienced and dynamic team from Cornell University Civic Ecology Lab: Bethany Jorgensen (PhD Candidate), Yue Li (Research Associate), Marianne Krasny (Professor), Zahra Golshani (visiting instructor), Kim Snyder (Course Administrator), Wanying Wu (Chinese language assistant), plus 10 Chinese language teaching assistants.

Course developer (video lecturer): Alex Kudryavtsev.


Current and aspiring environmental educators, teachers, nonformal educators, volunteers, nature enthusiasts, university students, and anyone interested in using nature education in their work, life, research, and in training other educators. No background in nature education or environmental education is required. Available to participants in any country. All course materials are in English; video lectures contain subtitles in English and Chinese.​

Learning objectives

Through this course, you will:

  1. Apply research explaining how nature education contributes to human well-being, makes communities healthier, and encourages people to be better nature stewards.
  2. Review and critique different types of nature education programs, explore their outcomes, and adapt their educational ideas for your own practices.
  3. Exchange practical ideas for nature education with other course participants and instructors.
  4. Create a plan for incorporating nature education activities in your organization, educational program, community, or family.​

Course Contents

Week 1 — Nature education framework

Background and definition. Nature education principles.

Week 2 — Nature education outcomes

Nature education and physical and mental health. Social benefits.

Week 3 — Nature education programs

Nature education and children. Interpretation. Inclusive nature education.

Week 4 — Learning in different contexts

Nature education in wilderness and in cities. Formal vs nonformal nature education. STEM learning.

Final project: Create a nature education plan for your organization, school, family, or yourself.

Webinars and Office Hours

We provide one webinar and one office hours each week during the course. You can participate live or watch the recorded version.​​


4 weeks, 4-5 hours of work per week. You will have an additional week to complete and submit a lesson plan.​


EdX Edge for readings, pre-recorded lectures, and discussion questions (asynchronous). We will also use Facebook, WhatsApp, and WeChat for optional informal discussions and sharing. We will host one ZOOM webinar each week. Webinars will be recorded for participants unable to attend in person.​​


The pre-recorded lectures will include both English and Chinese captions. Discussions will be in English. Participants are welcome to form study groups in different languages.

Educational approach​

Our teaching approach is based on two principles: (1) Learning is social: participants learn by discussing ideas and sharing resources; (2) Learning should lead to action: participants will apply course content to develop and implement a nature education lesson plan with their students, families, or communities.​


This is a non-credit course. Participants who successfully complete the course requirements are awarded a Cornell University certificate (PDF). Weekly assignments include lectures, readings, and discussion questions. Participants are required to participate in a minimum of one course webinar in person or by watching one recorded webinar. Required course project is a lesson plan.


$60 fee. Most participants pay this fee.

Options available to pay a higher fee ($120) to sponsor another student, or pay a lower or no fee if you are unable to pay or live in countries without internationally accepted payment systems.​

How to Register: