Indigenous children’s connectedness to nature: the potential influence of culture, gender and exposure to a contaminated environment

Wisam Sedawi, Orit Ben Zvi Assaraf, Michael J. Reiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This study investigates the concept of “connectedness to nature” among students from an indigenous Bedouin community, whose relationship with nature is influenced by a variety of cultural, social and environmental factors, not least of which is the fact that the environment in which they live is highly contaminated. We asked 294 fifth- and sixth-grade students (130 boys and 164 girls), who live in the highly rural Bedouin villages in Israel’s Negev desert, to complete an open questionnaire that was specifically designed to elicit detailed information about these particular students’ connection to nature. The paper presents the results of two analyses of this questionnaire. The first—a quantitative analysis—divides the students’ answers into five aspects of connectedness to nature (nature enjoyment, empathy for living creatures, sense of oneness, sense of responsibility and experience of nature in my immediate environment). The second—an inductive, qualitative analysis of the students’ explanations and elaborations of their answers—provides a more nuanced description of the various social, historical and situational factors that influence these students’ relationship with their environment. It then addresses the tension between these two analyses, highlighting the limitations of “traditional” categories of nature connectedness while showing how these can nevertheless be used to elicit detailed, complex and pertinent information. It concludes by demonstrating how this information, if analyzed critically through its correspondence, or lack of correspondence, with the original assumptions of the statements that elicited it, might be used in the development of place-based environmental education programs for specific populations. [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)955-989
Number of pages35
JournalCultural Studies of Science Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2020


  • Connectedness to nature
  • Contaminated environment
  • Culture
  • Gender
  • Indigenous

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies


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