Human health and well-being are inextricably linked to nature; our connection to the natural world is part of our biological inheritance
People and Nature in the modern world
Human health and well-being are inextricably linked to nature; our connection to the natural world is part of our biological inheritance. In this engaging book, a pioneer in the field of biophilia—the study of human beings’ inherent affinity for nature—sets forth the first full account of nature’s powerful influence on the quality of our lives. Stephen Kellert asserts that our capacities to think, feel, communicate, create, and find meaning in life all depend upon our relationship to nature. And yet our increasing disconnection and alienation from the natural world reflect how seriously we have undervalued its important role in our lives.
Weaving scientific findings together with personal experiences and perspectives, Kellert explores how our humanity in the most fundamental sense—including our physical health, and capacities for affection, aversion, intellect, control, aesthetics, exploitation, spirituality, and communication are deeply contingent on the quality of our connections to the natural world. Because of this dependency, the human species has developed over the course of its evolution an inherent need to affiliate with nature. But, like much of what it means to be human, this inborn tendency must be learned to become fully functional. In other words, it is a birthright that must be earned. He discusses how we can restore this balance to nature by means of changes in how we raise children, educate ourselves, use land and resources, develop building and community design, practice our ethics, and conduct our everyday lives. Kellert’s moving book provides exactly what is needed now: a fresh understanding of how much our essential humanity relies on being a part of the natural world.
About the Author
Dr. Stephen R. Kellert is the Tweedy Ordway Professor Emeritus of Social Ecology and Senior Research Scholar at the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of Bio-Logical Capital, a firm that invests in and implements sustainable land uses on large landscapes, as well as he was a founding partner of Environmental Capital Partners, a private equity company investing in the environmental sector. His work focuses on understanding the connection between nature and humanity with a particular interest in environmental conservation and sustainable design and development. He has served on committees of the National Academy of Sciences, and has been a member of the board of directors of many organizations. He has authored more than 150 publications, including the following books: Birthright: People and Nature in the Modern World (Yale University Press, 2012); Companions in Wonder: Children and Adults Exploring Nature Together (edited with J. Dunlap, Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012); The Coming Transformation: Values to Sustain Natural and Human Communities (edited with Gus Speth, Yale FES, 2010);Biophilic Design: The Theory, Science, and Practice of Bringing Buildings to Life (co-editors, J. Heerwagen, M. Mador, John Wiley, 2008),Building for Life: Designing and Understanding the Human-Nature Connection (Island Press 2005); Kinship to Mastery: Biophilia in Human Evolution and Development (Island Press, 1997); The Value of Life: Biological Diversity and Human Society (Island Press, 1996); The Biophilia Hypothesis (edited with E.O. Wilson, Island Press, 1993); The Good in Nature and Humanity: Connecting Science, Religion, and Spirituality with the Natural World (edited with T. Farnham, Island Press, 2002); Children and Nature: Psychological, Sociocultural, and Evolutionary Foundations (edited with P. Kahn, Jr., MIT Press, 2002); andEcology, Economics, Ethics: The Broken Circle (edited with F.H. Bormann, Yale University Press, 1991). He produced in 2011, a 60-minute documentary video with Bill Finnegan, “Biophilic Design: the Architecture of Life”.
“No one has learned more about the intricate relations of the human to nature, as expressed in our architecture, our relation to animals, and the shaping of aesthetics than Stephen Kellert.”— E. O. Wilson, Professor of Biology Emeritus, Harvard University, and author, Social Conquest of Earth
“This is a must-read for anyone who cares about the world and how to enrich our connection with the forces that sustain us.”—Alison Hawthorne Deming, University of Arizona