Biophilia: What It Is, and Why It Matters

two children put together a life-size red panda puzzle to learn about endangered animals

What in the world is “Biophilia,” and why is it so important for children?

Biophilia: What It Is

Harvard University entomologist Edward O. Wilson wrote in his book Biophilia,

“Humanity is exalted not because we are so far above other living creatures, but because knowing them well elevates the very concept of life” (1984, p. 82).

The term “biophilia” was first used by psychoanalyst Erich Fromm as “the passionate love of life and all that is alive”

Biophilia: Why It Matters

Fostering this “love of life and all that is alive” has many benefits.

People across generations who explore nature are happier; children who explore nature are physically and
mentally healthier and do better in school [1]. Children who feel a connection with the animals
that inhabit the earth with them are more empathic [2].

How To Foster Biophilia

10 ways you can foster biophilia in your home and/or classroom:

  1. Get outside.
  2. Be present and patient in the moment.
  3. Speak positively about nature.
  4. Ask questions.
  5. Use all the senses as you engage with nature.
  6. Get dirty; don’t discourage playing in the mud, water, or dirt.
  7. Model respect for nature by practicing “leave no trace” principles.
  8. Get your free US National Park Pass for your 4th grader at everykidoutdoors.gov
  9. Learn about animals, plants, and habitats that make our world so interesting and diverse.
  10. Teach others about things you have learned and/or experienced about the world around
    you.

Love life and all that is alive!
Cortney & Val

[1] Lumber R, Richardson M, Sheffield D. Beyond knowing nature: Contact, emotion,
compassion, meaning, and beauty are pathways to nature connection. PLoS One. 2017 May
9;12(5):e0177186. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0177186. PMID: 28486515; PMCID:
PMC5423657.
[2] Hinds J, Sparks P. Engaging with the natural environment: The role of affective connection
and identity. Journal of Environmental Psychology. 2008; 28: 109–120.

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