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Recruiting graduate students (Masters or PhD) for research on nature/land connection or relational approaches to sustainability education at the University of Waterloo, Canada

Reimagining Higher Education: Exploring ways of knowing and being to reconnect with the web of life, each other, and ourselves

Increasingly, educators advocate for a shift from a mechanical, siloed understanding of human-nature separation to a relational understanding where human beings are intimately connected to all living beings and ecosystems. Education is not solely a cognitive exercise; it is a holistic journey that engages our minds, hearts, and hands. The proposed research is an invitation to reimagine higher education.

This work builds on my current research on "Learning from the Land: Developing Capacity for Place-Based Learning at the University of Waterloo," and the UWaterloo-based Land Skills for Wellness and Sustainability project. It is informed by my experience with community-based research and circle pedagogy, which have been found to reinforce students’ sense of connection to themselves, each other, and the land—or web of life. My students and I wrote a paper (under review with Journal of Transformative Education) called “Fostering relationality in sustainable food systems education through experiential, contemplative, and community-based assessments.” This paper explores students’ reflections of deep nature connection and feeling more human in a university classroom (“I finally felt like I was an actual human being in class.”). This paper includes the nested model of relationality (below), which is central to the Reimaging Higher Education research project. This model builds on and connects to the work of Dr. Joanna Macy, Dr. Hesson Bai, Dr. Elizabeth Lange, Dr. Christine Wamsler, Dr. Otto Scharmer,  among other scholars.

nested model of relationality - Venn diagram of connection to self, each other, and nature

Below are foundational works and key themes in my research. I have included links to explore further. You can also view my recent talk, Learning to Fall in Love with the Land (82 min).  I share how I am bringing nature connection and the ecology of love into my teaching and research at 63 min.

Foundational works: Work that Reconnects ·  Relationality · Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures · Deep Nature Connection · Inner Development Goals  · Theory U · Outdoor Education ·

Research themes: nature connection · land-based practices · relational education · climate emotions · affective learning ·  community food systems & food sovereignty · sharing circles · contemplative and embodied practices · honouring our pain for the world · healing · holistic learning · story · decoloniality · ancestral ways of knowing and being · reskilling · wildlife tracking · foraging & hunting · ecology of love

Next Steps

Do these themes resonate with you? If so, please reach out by email ( We can set up a conversation to explore opportunities. I am accepting graduate students from across disciplines.