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MBU College of Education to bring best-selling author to campus

Mary Baldwin University will host best-selling author and co-founder of the Children & Nature Network Richard Louv on May 18. Louv’s talk, Plug into Nature, will explore the benefits of unplugging from technology and reconnecting with the outdoors.

mary baldwin universityLouv is the author of 10 books, including best-sellers Last Child in the Woods and Vitamin N, and at MBU he will speak about nature-deficit disorder, a term he coined to describe the lack of time most people spend in natural environments.

According to Louv, spending time in nature improves mental and physical health, helps remove the stresses of everyday life and overuse of technology, and builds bonds between kids and their families.

Louv helped established the nonprofit Children & Nature Network, whose mission is to fuel the worldwide grassroots movement to reconnect people with nature.

The outdoor activist has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Times of London, and other major publications. He has appeared on many national TV shows, including “CBS This Morning,” NBC’s “Today” show and “Nightly News.” In 2008 he was awarded the esteemed Audubon Medal, presented by the National Audubon Society.

Associate Professor of Education Tamra Willis has been instrumental in bringing Louv to campus, and she believes his talk will further highlight the unique Environment-Based Learning (EBL) program that the university offers through its College of Education.

His talk coincides with Global Outdoor Classroom Day, which is also on May 18.

“We all need more outdoor time, to be together in nature, enjoying the present and learning more about our environment,” said Willis, who introduced the EBL curriculum to MBU and currently directs the program.

One of the first programs of its kind in the country, EBL at Mary Baldwin teaches educators how to integrate an inquiry-based outdoor education model into their curricula and how to help their students develop critical thinking skills, become better problem solvers, and gain an appreciation for their surroundings.

“One of the most powerful ways to engage K–12 students in learning is through real world experiences, and you can’t get any more real than the great outdoors,” Willis said. “Our Master of Education program in Environment-Based Learning is all about encouraging teachers to take kids outside for any and all subjects, from doing math in the garden, to science in the streams, to social studies in our own community.”

Louv will present in his very own outdoor classroom on Mary Baldwin’s Page Terrace. The events start at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to bring something to sit on. Rain/cold location is Francis Auditorium.

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