We want to systematise and disseminate a new developing educational approach that bridges Education in Nature with Democratic Education (we call it Democratic Education in Nature – DEN).

Democratic Education is based on two principles:

  1. Democratic governance, through community processes where all members of the school can participate in decision making with equal rights.
  2. Autonomy for the students to determine their own learning path, based on cutting edge scientific standards of intrinsic motivation (see for instance Ryan & Deci, 2008) .

Education in Nature sees nature as the main learning environment for children, implemented by schools in nature (i.e. forest or beach schools), outdoor learning/environmental organizations.

The partners of this projects consider the following gaps in both:

  • Democratic schools often do not take full advantage of the benefits of the natural setting in children’s development. Hundreds of studies suggest that experiences of nature are fundamental for a healthy physiological and psychological development, to boost learning and environmental stewardship.
  • Schools in nature are mostly seen only suitable for kindergarten age, using the „new“ natural environment only from 3 to 6 years old. After that age, children enter a traditional school system, where learning is hardly ever outdoors.

We believe there is a great benefit of combining the two approaches, as it would allow children of primary schools in particular to benefit from contact with nature through a democratic education system based on intrinsic motivation and that works harmoniously with Education in Nature.

The DEN project has therefore the objective of putting forward a new developing approach that bridges Education in Nature with Democratic Education in order to:

  • promote the professionalization of organizations and schools already practicing this pedagogical approach, 
  • creating an exchange of competencies of European school/organizations interested in improving their competences,
  • promoting Democratic Education in Nature in traditional schools and organizations not familiar with these concepts yet,
  • fostering change in education policy development

These objectives will be reached by doing three activities in the project:

  • Research: scientific research will be done using questionnaire, literature review and focus groups to gather information about the application, needs and benefits of Democratic Education in the three partner’s country. A Research Report will be published
  • Workshop: a series of free online workshops will be organized to train and divulge about Democratic Education in Nature
  • Guidelines: we will write recommendation to how to apply Democratic Education in Nature in schools.