2021 Nature of Place Symposium “Wild Childhood” 

2021 Nature of Place Symposium
“Wild Childhood”
April 5 – 7; noon – 1:30 p.m. daily

The Nature of Place symposium centers on the implications of biophilia — the innate human connection to nature — which extend across a vast array of disciplines including design and engineering, nutrition, psychology, public health, education, biology and the humanities. Biophilia is expressed all over the world every day, through complex collaborations such as the design and construction of buildings and landscapes; and intimate, personal encounters including nature hikes and home gardening. Since 2014, Phipps has held a monthly Biophilia: Pittsburgh gathering to bring creative minds together for learning, exploring and strengthening the bonds between people and the natural world. At Phipps’ first Nature of Place Symposium in February 2020, these concepts found a new expression as leaders across disciplines came together to discuss the influence and impact of biophilia on their work and the work of the future.

This year, join us for a conversation of how biophilia impacts the most precious and vulnerable among us: children. Over the course of three days, we will explore not only the deep importance of how children significantly benefit from time in nature, but also how some children are deprived of this experience due to a variety of factors such as racial injustice and disability exclusion.

Each day of the symposium will include three pre-recorded talks, one live daily keynote speaker, and a panel discussion with the keynote and the other three speakers. The pre-recorded talks will all be available to registrants one week before the symposium begins to allow for flexible viewing.

Symposium Sessions

Session 1: The Physical and Cognitive Value of Time in Nature 
This session will discuss the developmental, cognitive, and physical benefits of children spending time in nature.

Session 2: Equitable Access to Greenspace – Changing the Outdoor Culture
Although time in nature is beneficial to children, not all children have equitable access to greenspace due to such factors as racism and facilities that are not inclusive of different abilities. This session will explore the existing social, cultural and physical barriers to access to nature and discuss the needed changes.

Session 3: Equitable Access to Greenspace – Changing the Cities 
Access to nature can be greatly improved by city infrastructure and planning, such as regulations to add more trees or minimize the distance to parks and green spaces. This session will explore the important role city planning can play in helping to ensure equitable access to nature.

Symposium Speakers

Keynote speakers are educator Kimberly RefoscoDr. Andrea Faber Taylor of University of Illinois and Ariam Ford of Grounded Strategies. Session speakers include:

  • Dr. Viniece Jennings, Agnes Scott College
  • Trevanna Grenfell, Wildwood Path
  • Eboni Preston, Greening Youth Foundation
  • Chloe Dragon Smith, BushKids
  • Britt Patterson Weber, Naples Botanical Garden
  • Gabe Tilove, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
  • Dr. Erin Rovalo, Director of Education at the International Living Future Institute
  • Dr. Keith Somers, UPMC/Children’s Community Pediatrics
  • Ujijji Davis Williams, SmithGroup