A Note from Darcia
Volume 2, Number 6
Learning to Dance with Diversity
Dear Evolved Nest Readers,

Diversity is part of life on the earth. Darwin noted how evolution brings about “endless forms most beautiful.” In contrast, and against evolutionary processes, in the last hundreds of years the dominant powers (military, corporate, economic, religious, popular culture) have pushed the world in the other direction, toward monoculture (think McDonald’s), undermining cultural and biological diversity. The god of Capital insists on this for efficiency.

People exposed to sameness tend to become less flexible, less skilled at embracing diversity. (I suspect that infant formula has something to do with an expectation of sameness—breastmilk has a rich flavor that changes every time training up the palate over several years, making at least that aspect of the brain more open to difference). 

99% of humanity’s existence was spent immersed in the natural world of biodiversity, where our senses (all 33) were built interactively in a particular landscape. We simultaneously felt part of and unique in that space and place within our band. Live was a joyful experience.

We can move ourselves toward more flexibility, towards diversity, with various practices, as tested in the paper by Dr. Darcia and Patrick Hill described below. Those with more multicultural experiences and desires also were more sophisticated in moral reasoning and more flexibly oriented. That is, they had more diverse friends, knew more than one language, paid attention to news from other countries. These are things we can each take up.

For nature connection—what we call ecological attachment (ecoattachment, for short), we are starting a challenge—a dance—for people to take up a daily activity practice through Instagram . These activities were tested in the  published paper  by Dr. Darcia and her students.  Find out more below.

Darcia Narvaez, PhD
Read past newsletters in the press room
Evolved Nest Lab Research
Taking time to commune with nature increases feelings of connection to it, our study shows
In designing a recent study, Notre Dame Professor of Psychology  Darcia Narvaez  wanted to test the possibility of promoting the sense of ecological attachment that was inherently part of many pre-industrialized societies and is still practiced by First Nation peoples. An experiment that was part of the study,  now published in Ecopsychology , showed that students reported increased mindfulness towards the environment after performing ecological attachment tasks like contemplating nature, or practicing environmental preservation tasks like recycling and limiting electricity usage. Only the tasks that had students communing with nature increased feelings of connection to it.

“Thomas Aquinas famously suggested two routes to faith and divine inspiration: the good book and the natural world. In a time when Mass attendance and parish events are curtailed by the pandemic, it may be a good time to restore the second route to God, the natural world,” said Narvaez. “Many non-civilized societies used this route, treating natural entities as fellow community members — First Nation peoples notably so.”

Eco Attachment Dance Invitation!
Eco Attachment Dance
A 28 Day Invitation to Renew Your Nature Connection!

Take up the Eco Attachment Dance!

You, your children, your family are invited to discover ways to connect with nature, renew your ecological attachment, and restore your living connection to the Earth. 

Dr. Darcia Narvaez and her students did an experiment to increase ecological attachment—nature connection—through small daily practices. Each day participants practiced one activity that increased attention to and being grateful for the natural world. (See here for the press release about the study, published in EcoPsychology.)

Take up the Eco Attachment Dance to expand your own ecological attachment through an Instagram challenge. Each day for 28 days an activity will be posted for you to practice that day. Each activity takes about 5 minutes (though you can go longer).

If you would like to take the pretest (and later a posttest) you can see how your attitudes and behaviors change after participating in the Eco Attachment Dance.

Visit the website at www.EcoAttachment.Dance

Join the Instagram or Facebook prompts

Watch Dr. Narvaez's video invitation here .
June Blogs
Psychology Today's Moral Landscapes Blog
I write typically about research findings related to moral functioning and living a good life. Sometimes I muse on things that I puzzle about (politics). I am very concerned about how much our society doesn't seem to know about how to raise good, healthy and happy children, so I spend a great deal of time on parenting. I also write about things that I am working on myself--the endless quest for virtue! This is an opinion blog, not a set of research articles, intended for the public not scientists. For more nuanced and highly referenced work, look at my academic work.

We become human from our immersed experiences—whether social or in the natural world.

Slavery emerged with hierarchical societies. Racism came later, much later. Both are tied to dominator societies.

Assumptions that emerged from European Enlightenment have infused our worldviews. It's important to question them.

White racism has a long history.

Fascism combines authoritarianism and racism. Let's check it out.

The Evolved Nest's YouTube Channel
Restoring Humanity's Promise: Nestedness and Indigenous Wisdom
A United Kingdom Wonderland Festival for Solstice 2020
Listen to Darcia Narvaez and Mary Tarsha present a 90 minute in-depth view of our present challenges and our human potential at this year's online Wonderland Festival.
Video Short
How to Support Children and Families during a Pandemic
Featuring Kroc Institute Faculty Fellow Darcia Narvaez and Kroc Institute Doctoral Student in Psychology and Peace Studies Mary Tarsha 

In the midst of the ongoing global pandemic, how are efforts to build peace and address the causes of violent conflict and injustice impacted?

Throughout the summer, join faculty members and graduate students from the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies for weekly video conversations related to the COVID-19 crisis, current events, and peace studies. 

NPR Radio Show Interview
The Friday Pitch-In

We also talk to a Notre Dame psychology professor about a new study that looked at whether engaging in conservation practices like recycling and energy reduction, or communing more often with nature, increased feelings of connection to the natural world.

Embodied Morality: Protectionism, Engagement, and Imagination
Basic needs fulfilment is fundamental to becoming human and reaching one’s potential. Extending the BUCET list proposed by Susan Fiske - which includes belonging, understanding, control/competence, autonomy, self-enhancement, trust, purpose and life satisfaction - this book demonstrates that the fulfilment of basic needs predicts adult physical and mental health, as well as sociality and morality. The authors suggest that meeting basic needs in childhood vitally shapes one’s trajectory for self-actualization, and that initiatives aimed at human wellbeing should include a greater emphasis on early childhood experience. Through contemporaneous and retrospective research in childhood, the authors argue that basic need-fulfilment is key to the development of the self and the possibility of reaching one’s full potential. This book will be of interest to scholars of human wellbeing and societal flourishing, as well as to health workers and educators.

Fresh Eyes On The Evolved Nest
Follow the Fresh Eyes Series to discover how the next generation perceives the Evolved Nest and relates to children, before they become parents...
Early Building Blocks for Mammalian Personality

By James Dickson

... achieving optimal development is kind of like learning a Debussy piece. There are many layers of foundation. First there’s the finger placement – that’s like the chemicals that underly the human brain. Then, there’s the tempo and dynamics – that’s like the various emotional systems. Finally, there’s the finished piece – the general thoughts and behaviors of the person. One cannot have a perfectly performed piece without proper finger placement, tempo, and dynamics. 

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