The importance of Forest School and the pathways to nature connection

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  • Published: 18 February 2021
  • Volume 24 , pages 71–85, ( 2021 )

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dissertations on forest school

  • Dave Cudworth   ORCID: 1 &
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Over the past 25 years Forest School in the UK has been growing in popularity as part of a wider resurgence of interest in outdoor learning. A key driver behind this recurrence of interest has been a growing concern over the lack of child exposure to outdoor experiences and with the natural world and their ensuing nature-deficit disorder. This article considers Forest School as linked with the concept of nature connection that is the sensation of belonging to a wider natural community. This sense of belonging developed by being in nature can also be a key factor in promoting attachment and sense of place which in turn is associated with the promotion of health, wellbeing and pro-environmental behaviours. As such the origins towards achieving nature connection are a formal part of the Forest School Association’s (FSA  2016 ). Forest School principals, with growing research linking Forest School and nature connection as concomitant. Recent work has suggested that contact, emotion, meaning, compassion, and beauty are key pathways for the formation of nature connection and there is a strong need to better understand children’s nature connection in this context. Further, from the premise that what goes on in spaces and places is fundamentally linked to both social and spatial processes, this article also attempts to understand the spatialities of Forest School in order to frame the development of nature connection within a socio-spatial analytic.

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Cudworth, D., Lumber, R. The importance of Forest School and the pathways to nature connection. Journal of Outdoor and Environmental Education 24 , 71–85 (2021).

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Accepted : 15 January 2021

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Inside out: a case study on the impact of forest school learning for pupils in a secondary school specialist send class.

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Johnson, Emma (2023). Inside out: a case study on the impact of Forest School learning for pupils in a Secondary school specialist SEND class. Student dissertation for The Open University module E822 Masters multi-disciplinary dissertation: education, childhood and youth.


Forest School research involving adolescents is notable by its near total absence from the field. Research involving SEND learners in their own right is also limited and there is an apparent lack of conceptual framework or theory underpinning current research. This proposal aims to fill these gaps by using Vygotsky’s Zones of Proximal Development (ZPD) to understand to what extent Forest School can be developed to aid engagement for Secondary aged SEND learners struggling to access traditional forms of learning and, if Forest School activities can be as beneficial for adolescent learners as they appear to be for younger children.

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The Forest School initiative and its perceived impact on children’s learning and development: an investigation into the views of children and parents

The study investigated the perceptions of children and parents relating to the Forest School initiative. The aims of the research were to explore children’s and parents’ perceptions of Forest School and consider the potential influence Forest School can have on children’s learning and development. The study explored these views within a setting that had implemented the Forest School initiative at a whole primary school level for a number of years. A qualitative approach was taken and the study used thematic analysis of key concepts and codes. Emerging themes were drawn from children’s and parents’ comments and main themes were identified. The study found that children were able to communicate the fun, excitement and enjoyment they had experienced when talking about Forest School as an initiative. Children conveyed a caring attitude and respect for nature and the outdoor environment and that it was important for them to look after their surroundings. Parents expressed that they valued the initiative and that supporting their children’s education at home was important. However, they felt that children took the Forest School initiative for granted and perhaps saw it as a privilege. In relation to children’s learning, a key theme was children’s apparent enthusiasm and desire to learn. The Forest School experience enabled children to develop and reinforce a multitude of key skills. With regard to children’s development, references were made to a growing sense of awareness and maturity. Concepts of trust and responsibility were conveyed with some reference to a growing sense of freedom being afforded to children as they get older. Further research could seek to establish which professionals are aware of the existence of Forest School and gain their perceptions of its potential benefits. Also, further exploration focusing on the difference in Forest School experiences between the Foundation Phase and Key Stage 2 could provide interesting results. This takes into account the perceived impact the Forest School initiative appears to have contributed to, in relation to the children’s and parents’ perspectives and the context of this study.

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School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

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SEFS research in Tetiaroa offers new insights on tropical ecosystems

dissertations on forest school

This fall Wirsing and his team have a return trip planned to the atoll, a grouping of 12 small coral islets that encircle a lagoon in the South Pacific Ocean. 

SEFS Associate Professor, Beth Gardner and Associate Professor Sarah Converse have focused on the seabirds of Tetiaroa. Initially, the two set out to understand their survival and movement patterns. Now, with the assistance of SAFS PhD student, Amelia DuVall , they are tracking seabirds using GPS tagging technology. The technology gives them insights into where the birds go, how long they’re away from the atoll and feeding locations. 

Further research on the seabirds looks at the patterns of their activity before and after efforts to eradicate two non-native species of rat, thought to have arrived in Tetiaroa several centuries ago when the islets were colonized. Conducted by SEFS master’s student, Eve Hallock , this research will give the team more information about the nesting activity of a few seabird species that call Tetiaroa home. 

The College of the Environment’s Director of Marketing, Michelle Ma, has written an in-depth story on this research that you can find here . Her work, accompanied by stunning photos taken by UMAC’s Mark Stone, highlight the incredible research coming out of SEFS and the larger College of the Environment. 


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The Dissertation Writing Retreat is offered by the Graduate School and the Willis Writing Center to provide structured writing time and resources for graduate students who are completing dissertation writing.

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Zach Schiffman wins Colorado Three Minute Thesis competition

CU Boulder doctoral student takes first prize in state 3MT competition for presentation on the urea molecule

Zach Schiffman accepting the CO 3MT recognition award

Zach Schiffman (right) accepting a certificate recognizing his accomplishment.

Zach Schiffman, a doctoral candidate in chemistry, beat out Colorado’s other universities to win the state Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition last month. He won with his presentation, “The Urea Molecule: From Fertilizer . . . to Climate Change?”

This is the second win for Schiffman, who took first prize in the Graduate School’s annual 3MT competition earlier this year. As part of his winnings, he was then invited to represent the university at both the regional (Western Region of Graduate Schools) and state (Colorado Council of Graduate Schools) competitions.

The 3MT event, which began at the University of Queensland in 2008, challenges graduate students to describe their research within three minutes to a general audience. To prepare, CU Boulder graduate students participate in a series of workshops focusing on storytelling, writing, presentation skills and improvisation comedy techniques. The Graduate School then holds a preliminary competition to whittle down the competition to ten finalists, who participate in the final competition at the beginning of February.

More information about the 3MT competition, including how to get involved in the 2024–25 school year, is available on the 3MT webpage .

  • Spring 2024
  • Three Minute Thesis

Wake Forest University School of Divinity

Wake Forest University School of Divinity to launch new Initiative on Religion, Pluralism, and American Public Life

dissertations on forest school

At the installation service of Corey D. B. Walker as Dean of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, President Susan R. Wente announced she has committed funding to support a new initiative on “Religion, Pluralism, and American Public Life” that will be based at the School of Divinity.  

“This initiative will provide the University and the broader public with essential resources to deepen civil discourse and civic engagement in a time when both are critical to our future,” said President Wente. “I applaud the School of Divinity for boldly engaging in this important work.” 

As part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the founding of Wake Forest University School of Divinity, the initiative will launch in the fall of 2024. The initiative builds on the School of Divinity’s ecumenical and interfaith commitments and its signature 2023 Elizabeth and Robert Strickland Symposium, “Religion, Pluralism, and the Fate of Democracy,” which brought scholars together to assess the current state and future prospects of American democracy. 

With the leadership of Dean Walker, the School of Divinity is uniquely positioned to be a national leader for research, public scholarship, and civic engagement at the intersection of religion, pluralism, and American public life.

“Dean Walker is not only a distinguished scholar, but he is also a committed public servant. His scholarship is complemented by his extensive community and civic engagement, including his bipartisan and interfaith work on religious freedom in 

the United States and internationally,” said Wente.

Dean Walker’s extensive scholarship, complemented by his community and civic engagement, brings a wealth of perspective and experience to the initiative. As a distinguished scholar on religion and democracy, Walker has provided expertise and leadership on matters of religion, public policy, and democracy as Freedom Forum Institute Senior Fellow for Religious Freedom at the Freedom Forum Institute in Washington, DC, as a member of the working group on international religious freedom for the United States Institute of Peace, as a member of the Committee on Religious Liberty, and as a member of the advisory council for the BJC’s Center for Faith, Justice, and Reconciliation. 

“This initiative comes at a crucial time,” said Corey D. B. Walker, Dean and Wake Forest Professor of the Humanities. “The very foundation and future of American democracy is intensely contested and religion functions both as a panacea and as a problem. In a moment when our nation is embroiled in an intense struggle over the very substance of democracy in America, an understanding of how religion fuels our highest aspirations and animates our deepest fears is needed now more than ever.”

The 2024-2025 theme, “Across the Borders of Tradition: Conversations in Jewish and Christian Thought and Theology,” reflects the initiative’s dedication to fostering critical interdisciplinary and interfaith dialogue. Over the course of the year, lectures and seminars will feature some of the nation’s leading theologians and scholars of religion; and opportunities for public conversations with prominent scholars and thought leaders who are pioneering new directions in religious thought, theology, and religion and American public life. 

The “Initiative on Religion, Pluralism, and American Public Life” advances Wake Forest University’s commitment to producing new knowledge that fosters inclusive communities. 

The School of Divinity is extending its distinctive legacy as a scholarly hub for intellectual engagement around matters of faith and public life. Current White House executive director of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Melissa Rogers previously served as the director of the Center for Religion and Public Affairs at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. The rich legacy of late professor of Christianity and public policy James M. Dunn, who provided legendary leadership for the Baptist Joint Committee, lives on at the school.

For more information about the initiative, visit . 

The original post of this announcement appears on .

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Local News | Oak Park-River Forest High School ‘Block Party’…

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Local News | Oak Park-River Forest High School ‘Block Party’ leaves attendees asking for repeat next year, officials say

The Jade 50’s, made up of alumni from Oak Park-River Forest High School, perform during the "Community Block Party" event May 19, 2024 at the high school in Oak Park. (Troy Stolt/Pioneer Press)

Oak Park-River Forest High School District 200 spokeswoman Karin Sullivan told Pioneer Press that an estimated 400 to 500 people attended the “Community Block Party,” held on the school campus in Oak Park.

“The weather was perfect, dozens of alumni brought chairs just to hear the Jade 50’s, and the activity tables run by our students were constantly busy with young kids and even adults,” Sullivan said.

The Oak Park-River Forest high-school booster club sells merchandise during a community block party at Oak Park-River Forest high school to celebrate the school's 150th anniversary on Sunday May 20, 2024. (Troy Stolt/for the Pioneer Press)

She previously explained that the purpose of the block party was to celebrate the community for its support of the school — the lone one in District 200 — and showcase students’ talents, clubs and interests.

The block party, set to run for three hours, was held on the west side of the campus, and featured food trucks, face painting done by the school’s Cosmetology Club, and other activities billed as family-friendly.

Entertainment was by The Jade 50’s, a band made up of OPRFHS alumni.

Sullivan said the band members were OPRFHS students in the ‘70s when they were asked to perform for a ‘50s-themed week of history lessons.

They were a hit decades ago and again Sunday.

“We’ve received a ton of positive feedback, with lots of questions about whether we’re going to do it again next year,” said Sullivan.

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Advocates of ending a subminimum wage for tipped workers in Illinois acknowledged that legislation is unlikely to move before lawmakers adjourn later this week.

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Franklin Park cops were on the rooftop at a local Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant last Friday, an effort that helped the department raise nearly $4,500 for the Special Olympics Illinois. “Thank you to everyone who came out to support this very worthwhile cause!” officials posted on the Franklin Park Facebook page. On May 17, police personnel were on the roof and in the drive-through of Dunkin’ Donuts, 10131 W. Grand Ave., in Franklin Park, starting with the early morning rush hour and going until noon. The effort was to raise money for athletes who compete with the Illinois Special Olympics. The […]

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New Trier High School Superintendent Paul Sally has announced he will be retiring next year with the school board now formally initiating the process to find his successor. District 203 officials revealed at the May 20 board meeting that Sally will be stepping down at the end of the 2024-25 school year. Sally started working at New Trier more than 30 years ago, first employed as a mathematics teacher. He later became an administrator and was promoted to superintendent in 2017 upon the retirement of his predecessor, Linda Yonke. “I’ve enjoyed every role and hope that in those roles I’ve contributed to […]

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Mudslide death: Coach of girl, 10, who dreamt of being a Lioness says team 'devastated' by death

The young girl killed in the mudslide in North Yorkshire has been named as "happy, bubbly" schoolgirl Leah Harrison. She was on a forest walk during a school trip at the time.

Thursday 23 May 2024 21:00, UK

Leah Harrison

The football coach of a 10-year-old whose dream it was to become a Lioness has said the team is "devastated" by news of her being killed in a mudslide.

Leah Harrison died during a school field trip to Carlton Bank forest on the edge of the North York Moors, North Yorkshire.

A major operation involving 30 mountain rescuers was launched to save her, as heavy rain fell in the area, but she could not be saved.

Described as a "go-lucky little girl", Leah was said to be "obsessed with football" and dreamed of becoming a Lioness.

Her Darlington Football Club coach John Woolnough said the team was "devastated to hear of the tragic passing of Leah".

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dissertations on forest school

He said while Leah had only joined the "family" this season, she had "quickly become a popular member amongst the girls".

"She was a joy to coach - always smiling and trying her best - and had shown big improvements during her time with us," the coach said.

As a mark of respect, the club's Under 11 game this weekend has been postponed.

A minute's silence will be observed at every other youth match.

Lingfield Education Trust said Leah was a "much loved" pupil at Mount Pleasant School in Darlington.

Nick Blackburn, the trust's chief executive, said: "The full details are still emerging but this is clearly a heartbreaking tragedy. Leah was a much loved part of our school and our thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends, and the school staff.

"Counselling is being arranged within the school for pupils and staff. We are all in a state of shock and we would ask that the privacy of the family and the school community is respected while we try to come to terms with what has happened."

Carlton Adventure

Mr Blackburn said in an interview with Sky News that Leah was "obsessed with football", who dreamed of becoming a Lioness, before describing her as "very resilient a girl, she showed real grit and determination in her life".

Her family described Leah as a "happy, bubbly, go-lucky little girl" and said "God only takes the best".

"The beautiful smile, the giddy laugh, the silly jokes. You will never ever be forgotten baby girl," it continued.

"You will achieve your dream and become a player for the Lionesses, spread those wings. May you rest in paradise."

Shared on Facebook, the family said there are plans for a "balloon release" in a local field at 4pm on Monday.

The family is being supported by specially trained police officers.

Leah Harrison

Denise McGuckin, managing director of Hartlepool Borough Council, which operates Carlton Adventure, said: "We can confirm that a tragic incident occurred during one of the centre's instructor-led outdoor education forest walks near to Carlton-in-Cleveland yesterday.

"We are utterly devastated and heartbroken and our thoughts are with Leah's family and friends and all those affected.

"We are working closely with our partner agencies to carry out a full investigation and we are temporarily suspending all outdoor activities and residential breaks managed by the council.

"Whilst the investigation is being carried out it would be inappropriate for us to comment further."

Pic: Owen Humphreys/PA

On Wednesday, North Yorkshire Police said officers were responding to a mudslide which happened at 1.15pm in Carlton-in-Cleveland.

The force said: "We can confirm that one person has sadly died as a result of the incident. Our thoughts are with their family and friends during this difficult time."

No one else was injured during the incident.

The scene was cordoned off throughout the afternoon and members of the public were asked to avoid the area.


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  1. The Impact of a Forest School Model and an Interdisciplinary Curriculum

    Theses and Dissertations 2018 The Impact of a Forest School Model and an Interdisciplinary Curriculum in a Third-Grade Classroom: An Action Research Study Valerie Hoyt-Parrish University of South Carolina Follow this and additional works at: Part of the Curriculum and Instruction Commons Recommended Citation

  2. The importance of Forest School and the pathways to nature ...

    Over the past 25 years Forest School in the UK has been growing in popularity as part of a wider resurgence of interest in outdoor learning. A key driver behind this recurrence of interest has been a growing concern over the lack of child exposure to outdoor experiences and with the natural world and their ensuing nature-deficit disorder. This article considers Forest School as linked with the ...

  3. A systematic review of forest schools literature in England

    Introduction. Forest School is a popular outdoor education initiative with international reach. Evolving from a diverse range of backgrounds, work under the Forest School label has overarching aims that encourage children to develop various personal qualities in natural learning environments (Cree and McCree Citation 2012).However, the literature on Forest Schools presents a range of different ...

  4. PDF Investigation of Forest School Concept by Forest School Teachers ...

    Forest school is an inspiring model that provides an environment in which active learning methods are applied in the forest or woodland, where all students can develop confidence and self-esteem (Öztürk, 2018). The concept of the forest school was coined in the USA in 1927.

  5. A systematic review of forest schools literature in England

    This paper identifies three prevailing discourses within existing Forest School literature in relation to schools and teachers: as 'critical stakeholders', 'unenlightened' and 'consumers' and 'agentic'. Engagement with Forest School is an act of resistance against the mainstream standards agenda. Table 2.

  6. PDF The Intersections of Forest Schooling and a Public School

    for most of the school day, regardless of weather. A major characteristic of forest schooling is the use of "wild spaces" - natural spaces that. offer children the promise of interaction, loose parts, and manageable risk. Usually, as the name. suggests, the schools take place in the context of a forest.

  7. PDF Using Realistic Evaluation to evaluate 'Forest School' with

    1.3 Overview of the Thesis Page 10 10 12 12 Chapter 2 2. Forest Schoo l: A Realist Synthesis 2.1 Introduction 2.2 Structure of the Realist Synthesis Literature Review ... 4.7 A Forest School leader and pupil working together 4.8 A pupil whittling to make fire sticks 4.9 Jewellery made at Forest School

  8. Outdoor learning spaces: The case of forest school

    Forest School came to the UK primarily from Scandinavia, where early years education conducted in the outdoors is a widely accepted practice. In its move to the UK, however, three major issues ...

  9. The Forest School impact on children: reviewing two decades of research

    ABSTRACT. Forest School, a distinctive form of outdoor learning, was suggested to have a beneficial impact on the involved children. The purpose of this paper is to systematically locate and select existing articles published from January 2000 to December 2019 to identify what research had suggested in terms of the Forest School impact on the involved children.

  10. PDF Views from the staffroom: Forest School in English primary schools

    between schools and Forest School providers, so central to the work of Murray & O'Brien (2005) is almost absent. Instead, Forest School has become commodified, defined and branded to the extent that Waite, Bolling & Bentsen (2015:16) describe it as 'an external school service operating between market forces and nature ideology'.

  11. Inside out: a case study on the impact of Forest School learning for

    Forest School research involving adolescents is notable by its near total absence from the field. Research involving SEND learners in their own right is also limited and there is an apparent lack of conceptual framework or theory underpinning current research. ... Student dissertation for The Open University module E822 Masters multi ...

  12. PDF Case Study 1: An Evidence-Based Practice Review Report Theme: How ...

    development through outdoor learning opportunities. Forest School is delivered on a regular basis, for example one morning per week, for at least a half term, but often throughout the year. Apart from Forest School, in the UK, the Learning Outside the Classroom manifesto (Department for Education and Skills, 2006) supported use of

  13. PDF Forest School as a Way of Learning in the Outdoors in the UK

    The first phase starts with a consideration of the defining characteristics of Forest School by analyzing fourteen case studies of Forest School experience, used with different age-groups in different settings across the UK. The study uses a grounded theory approach and utilizes the computer software package NVivo 8 as a coding tool.

  14. Dissertation: An investigation into the benefits of Forest School

    Forest School provides an important opportunity for children to gain access to and become familiar with woodlands on a regular basis, while learning academic and practical skills. ... [PhD thesis] University Of Greenwich. Murray, R., and O'Brien, L., (2006) 'Such enthusiasm - A joy to see: An evaluation of forest school in England ...

  15. The Forest School initiative and its perceived impact on children's

    The study investigated the perceptions of children and parents relating to the Forest School initiative. The aims of the research were to explore children's and parents' perceptions of Forest School and consider the potential influence Forest School can have on children's learning and development. The study explored these views within a setting that had implemented the Forest School ...

  16. (PDF) Parents' Perceptions of UK Forest School: Descriptive and

    Abstract: Parental support for children's Forest School (FS) education is likely connected to the. parents' own views about FS. W e investigated parents' perceptions of FS by performing a ...

  17. PDF Investigating the effectiveness of Forest School sessions on children's

    1. Forest School is a long term process with frequent and regular sessions in a woodland or natural wooded environment, rather than a one-off visit. Planning, adaption, observations and reviewing are integral elements of Forest School. 2. Forest School takes part in a woodland or natural wooded environment to support the

  18. SEFS research in Tetiaroa offers new insights on tropical ecosystems

    Master of Forest Resources (MFR) Forest Management Degree Admissions; Master of Science (M.S.) and Ph.D. Graduate Admissions; Faculty and Research ... School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. Anderson Hall, Box 352100 Seattle, WA 98195. [email protected] | (206) 543-2730. Search. Facebook Twitter instagram linkedin.

  19. Dissertation Writing Retreat

    The Dissertation Writing Retreat is offered by the Graduate School and the Willis Writing Center to provide structured writing time and resources for graduate students who are completing dissertation writing. The retreat leader will offer writing tips, resources, one-on-one consultations, peer feedback, and focused writing time. June 10-14, 2024 8:30am-1:30pm […]

  20. Elektrostal

    Elektrostal, city, Moscow oblast (province), western Russia.It lies 36 miles (58 km) east of Moscow city. The name, meaning "electric steel," derives from the high-quality-steel industry established there soon after the October Revolution in 1917. During World War II, parts of the heavy-machine-building industry were relocated there from Ukraine, and Elektrostal is now a centre for the ...

  21. Zach Schiffman wins Colorado Three Minute Thesis competition

    The Graduate School then holds a preliminary competition to whittle down the competition to ten finalists, who participate in the final competition at the beginning of February. More information about the 3MT competition, including how to get involved in the 2024-25 school year, is available on the 3MT webpage.

  22. Practitioners' perspectives on children's engagement in forest school

    tance of the practitioners in guiding, supporting and enabling children to make the most of the a ordances available to them, noting that as each child is individual, the a ordances available. ff ff. to them might vary. Murphy (2020) considers the relevance of Bronfenbrenner's ecological model to Forest School.

  23. Elektrostal

    Elektrostal. Elektrostal ( Russian: Электроста́ль) is a city in Moscow Oblast, Russia. It is 58 kilometers (36 mi) east of Moscow. As of 2010, 155,196 people lived there.

  24. Elektrostal

    Elektrostal , lit: Electric and Сталь , lit: Steel) is a city in Moscow Oblast, Russia, located 58 kilometers east of Moscow. Population: 155,196 ; 146,294 ...

  25. Wake Forest University School of Divinity to launch new Initiative on

    Dean Corey D. B. Walker and President Susan R. Wente after the Installation Ceremony at Wait Chapel on Friday, April 26, 2024. At the installation service of Corey D. B. Walker as Dean of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, President Susan R. Wente announced she has committed funding to support a new initiative on "Religion, Pluralism, and American Public Life" that will be ...

  26. PDF LJMU Research Online

    Forest School is a popular outdoor education initiative with international reach. Evolving from a diverse range of backgrounds, work under the Forest School label has overarching aims that encou-rage children to develop various personal qualities in natural learning environments (Cree and

  27. DEC to Hold Public Information Session for Winona State Forest Unit

    The State Forest includes the site of the Civilian Conservation Corps Mannsville Camp. Due to the amount of lake-effect snow the area receives, the State Forest contains many recreational trails used for cross country skiing, snowmobiling, and other winter activities. In recent years, these trails have seen increased use for summer activities.

  28. Oak Park-River Forest High School 'Block Party' leaves attendees asking

    As the school year winds down, Oak Park-River Forest High School is marking the end of its 150th anniversary celebration with a "Community Block Party" Sunday at the school in Oak Park. "The ...

  29. Mudslide death: Coach of girl, 10, who dreamt of being a Lioness says

    Leah Harrison died during a school field trip to Carlton Bank forest on the edge of the North York Moors, North Yorkshire. A major operation involving 30 mountain rescuers was launched to save her ...

  30. Elektrostal, Moscow Oblast, Russia

    Elektrostal Geography. Geographic Information regarding City of Elektrostal. Elektrostal Geographical coordinates. Latitude: 55.8, Longitude: 38.45. 55° 48′ 0″ North, 38° 27′ 0″ East. Elektrostal Area. 4,951 hectares. 49.51 km² (19.12 sq mi) Elektrostal Altitude.