Posted by: henrymcghie | April 1, 2015

Thoughts on ‘Nature Connections 2015’ conference

Hello- I went to an excellent conference last week, ‘Nature Connections’, at the University of Derby. The conference brought together a wide range of people who are interested or working on the connections between people and nature. One of the main things I took from it was the ongoing problem of discussing people as separate from nature. Ralph Underhill from the Public Interest Research Centre spoke about this, in that the way we introduce and frame subjects sets the discussion down particular paths, and consequently drives or limits the options for discussion. One thing I was interested in from this how we can have conversations that help people define and understand what ways of thinking about nature are useful for them and in what circumstances. This builds on work we did some time ago on our Living Worlds gallery that sought to raise how people think about nature- it could be an interesting/useful next step to combine these two strands and go that one step further: to explore nature through Living Worlds with visitors, and then drill down a bit further on when, how and why people think about nature in particular ways (or they don’t) and their relationships/connections with these ‘different’ natures.

Another thing I took away from the conference was the importance of remembering that nature is not a place or an object, it is a process, a network of which we are part, an ebb and flow. Remembering this, and that we too are ebbing and flowing in response to various rhythms (breath, heartbeats, daylength, seasonality) is important in museums, which can seem, let’s face it, more static and fixed than messy, chaotic, beautiful nature.

The third thing I took away was that there was hardly anyone there from museums- either curators or educators. Museums, and relevant art galleries, have an enormous amount of potential to help people explore the wider world, so I hope more museum people will engage with this area of work.


Just a couple of thoughts,




  1. That’s a great thought…and certainly never static, always interconnecting

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