Boy standing on tree branch
Boy standing on tree branch

From Childhood Experiences to Engaged Citizenship

PhD Project Bernadette van Heel
Project type

Research shows that support for nature conservation and nature engagement of citizens are often rooted in youth. Especially direct, informal and unstructured nature experiences in childhood are of importance for ecological citizenship at a later age. However, studies show that children spent less time in nature and have less space to roam. Unsupervised and unstructured contact with nature for children is becoming increasingly difficult in our urbanized and risk-averse society, where indoor activities, such as television and internet, are highly attractive for children.

The aim of this project is to gain insight in strengthening engaged citizenship by studying the role of childhood experiences on engaged ecological citizenship from a lifeline perspective. Both qualitative and quantitative research strategies are used to understand meaningful nature experiences and connection and engagement with nature — especially in children, teens, and adolescents.


The CCHN is an initiative of the Foundation Endowed Chair (Stichting Bijzondere Leerstoel) and is financed by IVN nature education, Natuurmonumenten, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds, Staatsbosbeheer, WNF and Radboud University.

Contact information

For more information, please get in touch with Bernadette van Heel