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Peter H. Kahn, Jr.

Peter H. Kahn, Jr., is Professor in the Department of Psychology and Director of the Human Interaction with Nature and Technological Systems Laboratory at the University of Washington. Kahn and Hasbach are coeditors of Ecopsychology: Science, Totems, and the Technological Species (MIT Press, 2012).

Titles by This Author

Adaptation and the Future of Human Life

Our forebears may have had a close connection with the natural world, but increasingly we experience technological nature. Children come of age watching digital nature programs on television. They inhabit virtual lands in digital games. And they play with robotic animals, purchased at big box stores. Until a few years ago, hunters could "telehunt"—shoot and kill animals in Texas from a computer anywhere in the world via a Web interface. Does it matter that much of our experience with nature is mediated and augmented by technology?

Development and Culture

Winner of the 2000 Book Award from the Moral Development & Education Group of the American Educational Research AssociationUrgent environmental problems call for vigorous research and theory on how humans develop a relationship with nature. In a series of original research projects, Peter Kahn answers this call. For the past eight years, Kahn has studied children, young adults, and parents in diverse geographical locations, ranging from an economically impoverished black community in Houston to a remote village in the Brazilian Amazon.

Titles by This Editor

We often enjoy the benefits of connecting with nearby, domesticated nature—a city park, a backyard garden. But this book makes the provocative case for the necessity of connecting with wild nature—untamed, unmanaged, not encompassed, self-organizing, and unencumbered and unmediated by technological artifice. We can love the wild. We can fear it. We are strengthened and nurtured by it. As a species, we came of age in a natural world far wilder than today’s, and much of the need for wildness still exists within us, body and mind.

Science, Totems, and the Technological Species

We need nature for our physical and psychological well-being. Our actions reflect this when we turn to beloved pets for companionship, vacation in spots of natural splendor, or spend hours working in the garden. Yet we are also a technological species and have been since we fashioned tools out of stone. Thus one of this century’s central challenges is to embrace our kinship with a more-than-human world--“our totemic self”--and integrate that kinship with our scientific culture and technological selves.

Psychological, Sociocultural, and Evolutionary Investigations

For much of human evolution, the natural world was one of the most important contexts of children's maturation. Indeed, the experience of nature was, and still may be, a critical component of human physical, emotional, intellectual, and even moral development. Yet scientific knowledge of the significance of nature during the different stages of childhood is sparse. This book provides scientific investigations and thought-provoking essays on children and nature.