Project status: In progress

The project is designed to explore the relationship between humans and the natural world by asking about a specific type of lived experience in the natural environment. The benefit from this exploration will be a deeper understanding of the human-nature relationship and the potential of these experiences to develop care for the natural world. Participation in this project is restricted to people 18 years or older.

Participation in the project involves the submission of a video, audio or text-based description of your extraordinary experience in nature.

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The natural world is typically considered as a resource for human consumption. From an anthropocentric perspective the natural world is considered 'other' to humanity and a medium for conquering or communion, a playground or a natural reserve. Humanity has become so insulated from the natural world that, for many, it has become something to fear and control.

From an ecocentric perspective nature has intrinsic value and thus becomes being-for-itself as opposed to being-for-us (humanity). Humanity is just part of nature. This approach has been defined as ecophilosophy or the study of the bond between self, place, community and the natural world. Ecopsychology (as distinct from ecological psychology, environmental psychology, environmental education or deep ecology), is a merge of psychology and ecophilosophy which is specifically concerned with this human-nature link. Research indicates that any disconnection from nature, or the more-than-human world, that is encouraged by the nature-as-other metaphor adversely affects mental health.

Proponents of this perspective consider that human-beings are inseparable from the physical world and to be fully healthy beings we must establish a connection. That is, despite perceptions that human beings are unique amongst animals our connection to nature is as so called lower-animals.

Nature is no longer seen as a battleground, playing field or resource but experienced in terms of nature-as-family, nature-as-self or nature-as-unity (there is no relationship as there is no separation) and facilitator of a deep sense of being and even extraordinary states of awareness and consciousness.

This project will provide a medium for those of you who have experienced such states or connections to tell your story which will in turn help open up the discussion about the relationship between humanity and the natural world.

This project will use a hermeneutic phenomenological approach to:

  1. Explore the relationship between humanity and the natural world through descriptions of extraordinary experiences.
  2. Explore how such extraordinary experiences might come about.
  3. Explore how these extraordinary experiences might change the relationship between humanity and the natural world.

Extraordinary experiences differ from flow in that they are triggered by unusual events and differ from peak experiences and peak performance as they neither require extra effort nor an independent relational model.

Key Questions are:

  1. What types of extraordinary experiences do people have with the natural world?
  2. What type of context triggers these experiences?
  3. What changes might have occurred as a result of such experiences?
  4. How, if at all, did these experiences change your relationship to the natural world?


To obtain a better understanding:

  • of special experiences in nature-based activities and the influence that these experiences have on the relationship between humanity and the natural world
  • how such extraordinary experiences might come about
  • how these extraordinary experiences might change the relationship between humanity and the natural world.

And eventually:

  • interpret your stories in order to publish academic papers and possibly a book, CD or other audio-visual medium relating to these experiences.

This website has been set up so that you can tell your story of special experiences in/with nature. Please provide as much detail as possible, do not assume that I will understand what you mean by an expression or saying. The term special experience is deliberately broad and can include any experience not usually encompassed within your day-to-day routines. Some typical examples have been included in the FAQ's list (PDF file, 226.17 KB).

Any queries about your participation in this project may be directed to the Principal Researcher.

Concerns / complaints regarding the conduct of the project

QUT is committed to researcher integrity and the ethical conduct of research projects. However, if you do have any concerns or complaints about the ethical conduct of the project you may contact the QUT Research Ethics Officer.

The Research Ethics Officer is not connected with the research project and can facilitate a resolution to your concern in an impartial manner.

Terms and Conditions (PDF file, 117.83 KB)

I confirm that I am 18 years or older and agree to the above Terms and Conditions applying to my participation in this project.