Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Transformative Experiences with Nature: A Phenomenological Exploration
by Caston, Daniel W., Ph.D., Prescott College, 2014, 150; 3623541
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation presents findings from an exploratory, phenomenological study that examined the dynamics of transformative experiences with nature through three lenses: the state of being of a person in a state of deep play, the human affinity for nature, and the human capacity to experience transformation. Stories were collected from fifteen people via semi-structured interviews. Findings indicate that transformative experiences are comprised of five qualities that emerge as the moment unfolds. They are novelty, engagement, immersion, openness, and attunement. Our affinity for nature and our capacity for deep play foster the feelings and thoughts associated with each of these qualities. Other findings indicate that an experience does not occur in isolation but rather occurs in concert with other aspects of a person's life. Antecedents such as education, beliefs, and previous experiences influence how a person perceives of and interacts with an experience. The substantiation process influences how a person makes meaning of and integrates an event into her/his life. Significant moments with nature may influence a person's life in significant ways prompting changes in interests, careers, worldviews, and her/his relationship with nature. Findings demonstrate that the transformative experiences of the study participants shifted their engagement with nature toward a more nature oriented lifestyle. The findings of this study inform adventure education, outdoor and environmental education, transformational learning, and adult education. These finding also inform land development and management fields such as forestry, natural resource management, and urban planning and development.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mitten, Denise
Commitee: Brymer, Eric, Koesler, Rena, Norman, Mary Ann
School: Prescott College
Department: Education / Sustainability Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 75/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Environmental education, Sustainability, Recreation
Keywords: Biophilia, Deep play, Flow, Nature, Transformative experience
Publication Number: 3623541
ISBN: 9781303960734
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