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Nature Education 

Nature Education
Online Course
May 15 – June 11, 2023

Registration closed

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Read about the course and FAQs below.

中国学员请关注公众号 (CornellCEL) 获取课程中文详情。

  • Hundreds of participants from over 50 countries have taken this popular course

  • This course offers 25 learning hours


Nature experiences can be educational, joyful, and comforting, especially in today’s urbanizing and post-pandemic world. Nature education brings people closer to nature and thus contributes to human well-being, including physical and mental health. This course will introduce you to diverse nature education practices, including programs run by urban and wilderness nature centers, unstructured play time for children, adventure and outdoor education programs, educational experiences in national parks, forest schools, as well as citizen science and environmental stewardship programs that incorporate nature-based experiences. 


Topics include personal and community benefits of nature education, cultural ecosystem services, traditional and novel approaches to nature experiences, and challenges and critiques of nature education. Based on research and practice examples, this course is designed to help educators, volunteers, community leaders, parents and anyone else to gain professional credentials in nature education, and to incorporate nature in their educational programs and everyday life.


An experienced and dynamic team from Cornell University Civic Ecology Lab: Elena DomInguez Contreras (Ph.D. Candidate), Marianne Krasny (Professor), Kim Snyder (Course Administrator).

Course developer (video lecturer): Alex Kudryavtsev.


Elena Dominguez Contreras


PhD Candidate

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Renda Sun

Course coordinated for participants in China,

MS Candidate in Environmental Conservation Education at NYU

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Alex Kudryavtsev

Course co-designer,

Cornell Research Associate

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Marianne Krasny

Course co-designer,


Please refer to our FAQs below. If you still have questions, feel free to ask Kim Snyder, our course administrator, any questions about this course.

When you contact us, please type "NAED" in the subject line of your email.


Kim Snyder

Course administrator


Current and aspiring environmental educators, teachers, nonformal educators, volunteers, nature enthusiasts, university students, and anyone interested in using nature education in their work, life, research, and in training other educators. No background in nature education or environmental education is required. Available to participants in any country. All course materials are in English; video lectures contain subtitles in English and Chinese.

Learning objectives

Through this course, you will:

  1. Apply research explaining how nature education contributes to human well-being, makes communities healthier, and encourages people to be better nature stewards.

  2. Review and critique different types of nature education programs, explore their outcomes, and adapt their educational ideas for your own practices.

  3. Exchange practical ideas for nature education with other course participants and instructors.

  4. Create a plan for incorporating nature education activities in your organization, educational program, community, or family.

Course Contents

  • Week 1 — Nature education framework

Background and definition. Nature education principles.

  • Week 2 — Nature education outcomes

Nature education and physical and mental health. Social benefits.

  • Week 3 — Nature education programs

Nature education and children. Interpretation. Inclusive nature education.

  • Week 4 — Learning in different contexts

Nature education in wilderness and in cities. Formal vs nonformal nature education. STEM learning.

  • Final project: Create a nature education plan for your organization, school, family, or yourself.

Webinars and Office Hours

We provide one webinar and one office hours each week during the course. You can participate live or watch the recorded version.​


4 weeks, 4-5 hours of work per week. You will have an additional week to complete and submit a lesson plan.


EdX Edge for readings, pre-recorded lectures, and discussion questions (asynchronous). We will also use Facebook, WhatsApp, and WeChat for optional informal discussions and sharing. We will host one ZOOM webinar each week. Webinars will be recorded for participants unable to attend in person.


The pre-recorded lectures will include both English and Chinese captions. Discussions will be in English. Participants are welcome to form study groups in different languages.

Educational approach

Our teaching approach is based on two principles: (1) Learning is social: participants learn by discussing ideas and sharing resources; (2) Learning should lead to action: participants will apply course content to develop and implement a nature education lesson plan with their students, families, or communities.


This is a non-credit course. Participants who successfully complete the course requirements are awarded a Cornell University certificate (PDF). Weekly assignments include lectures, readings, and discussion questions. Participants are required to participate in a minimum of one course webinar in person or by watching one recorded webinar. Required course project is a lesson plan.


$70 fee. Most participants pay this fee.

Options available to pay a higher fee ($120) to sponsor another student, or pay a lower or no fee if you are unable to pay or live in countries without internationally accepted payment systems.



1. What time(s) of the day will this course take place?

During the course time, we will release most of the course materials including pre-recorded video lectures, readings, and discussion questions every Monday morning (NY time). You can choose anytime during each week to review. We will also host one ZOOM webinar each week. Webinars will be recorded for participants unable to attend in person.

2. Why do you have three types of enrollment for different fees? 

We are committed to creating equal access to the course materials and to instructor feedback regardless of where a student lives or his/her ability to pay. Students can pay a reduced fee or not pay if they live in a country that does not have a system to transfer funds to the U.S. (e.g., Afghanistan, Iran, Somaliland) or because the basic $70 fee is beyond their reach (economic hardship). Most course participants pay $70, which helps support our online courses. We depend on your course payment to pay our teaching staff, and we are grateful for your support!

3. If I pay $120, can I link with the student I sponsor? 

No, we would like to keep who pays and who doesn’t pay anonymous. However, you will be able to connect with students from many different countries through the course social media and EdX Edge discussion board.

4. Can I sponsor more than one student? 

Yes, we would be grateful for your support of other students, especially in developing countries, who otherwise cannot afford paying for this course.

5. What is the refund policy?

You may request a refund by the end of the first week.

6. How long is the course? 

This is a 4-week course with one additional week to complete the course project. The course project is a lesson plan. If you complete all required course assignments you will receive a Cornell Certificate.

7. Can I submit the course project in my native language? 

We strongly encourage you to submit all assignments in English so that instructors and other students can give you feedback. But you can also submit your final project in Chinese or Spanish. We have teaching staff who speak these languages.

8. How will I receive course certificates? 

You will receive your course certificate via email within one month after the end of the course.

9. What social media are used in this course? 

We use optional Facebook, WhatsApp, and WeChat groups for participants and instructors to share ideas and resources. Only course participants can be part of these groups; please do not invite people outside this course.

10. Can I share course materials with my colleagues and friends?

 You are NOT allowed to share, copy, distribute, or forward any materials from this course. They are only for your own learning.

If after reading above, you still have questions, contact us at  

(Please write “Nature Education” in the subject line.)


The development of this online course was supported by the Alibaba Foundation.

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