College Students and Nature: Differing Thoughts of Fear, Danger, Disconnection, and Loathing

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    Despite the existence of a robust body of research that investigates human-nature connections, few scholars have examined what people tend to ponder when they think of nature. The objective of the study is to find out how college and university students think about nature. The study also seeks to identify which factors are most significant in influencing students' thoughts about nature. This paper analyzes racial, gender, class, and academic differences in the way college students think about nature. The study of 287 American students found that respondents thought about a wide range of concepts and ideas when they contemplate nature. This article focuses on the demographic differences in thoughts about fear, danger, and loathing. This set of ideas has been the subject of scholarly research, and the findings presented herein contribute to this body of scholarship. The paper discusses both descriptive and multivariate techniques that are used to explore the topic. The study found that white students are less likely than racial/ethnic minorities to think about disconnection, predators, getting lost, loathsome or hateful places, fear, and danger when they think of nature. However, the results also show that it would be inaccurate to describe racial/ethnic minorities as universally fearful of and disconnected from nature. Moreover, the paper demonstrates that race is not the only explanatory variable that has significant impacts in multivariate modelsthe student's academic interest has significant impacts on thoughts about natural hazards, disconnection, predators, human-made hazards, and loathsome or hateful places. Gender, age, parental education, and first-generation college attendance also has significant impacts on the dependent variables.