Date of Award

Fall 12-20-2019

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)


Environmental Studies


John Van Buren


In an increasingly digital world, children are growing up with less involvement and interaction with the environment. Hands-on and experiential learning is less popular in schools and a more test-oriented and numerical evaluation is increasingly popular. This thesis explores the decrease in outdoor environmental education and the impact that has on adolescent development and developmental milestones in children. This impact extends past just mental development and impacts the physical health development of children. Obesity, attention deficit disorders, and other behavioral issues are just a few of the signs of the problems that have arisen due to a decrease in environmental education.

Chapter 1 I present Richard Louv’s term “Nature Deficit Disorder” as the idea that children are spending less time outside and are suffering because of this. In Chapter 2 I explore the history behind outdoor education, not only in former policy but also as a society how education was more focused on the environment in which children learn. Chapter 4 goes into detail on how outdoor environmental education can affect the psychology of young children and what the effect can be if children are not exposed to environmental education. Chapter 6 extends from chapter 1 but explores the range in policies that exist all over the world that involve children and how varying policies can improve or hurt children's development, success, and health. Chapters 3 and 5 will give case studies into two popular forms of getting children outside and participating in activities organically. This thesis explores the history of outdoor environmental education and it’s removal from daily life and school setting’s impact on children's development.