These comments help you understand what environmental philosophy is and how Biocitizen teaches it.

My high school English class—American Literature and Nature: Claiming the Self—and I were lucky enough to have Kurt Heidinger of Biocitizen visit us for a talk on the roots of Transcendentalism in the United States and our particular region of Western Massachusetts. I was exploring the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau with my students. Kurt’s expertise in this area helped make the material more accessible to my students. He included new characters into the cast: painters, writers, preachers and anecdotal stories to make this particular history and philosophy relevant for today’s students. Using visual images and well chosen passages from a wide range of transcendental thinkers, Kurt kept all of my students engaged. Fortunately for me, Kurt piqued their interest in such a way, that they remained enthusiastic about the material right up until the end of our unit. Kurt is a fun and personable speaker/educator. He relates to young people and they sense it. He is able to take what could be difficult concepts and distill them into ideas that are at once clear and relatable. In addition, the importance of the natural world and our responsibility as stewards is a vital message for young people, and one that Kurt weaves through his presentation. Thanks so much, Kurt!

Tracey McCormick
English Teacher
Amherst Regional High School

Dr. Kurt Heidinger has been a tremendous inspiration in the conception and teaching of the concepts of the Field Environmental Philosophy and Biocultural Conservation courses that are taught by the Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Research and Conservation Program coordinated by the University of North Texas in the US, and the University of Magallanes and the Institute of Ecology and Biodiveristy in Chile. Kurt taught the inaugural course of the “Tracing Darwin Path” series at the Omora Ethnobotanical Park, and succeeded in engaging the students to produce their own “naturalist diaries”. I also have enjoyed the pleasure of stimulating research and co-writing with Kurt. See for example:

Ten Principles for Biocultural Conservation at the Southern Tip of the Americas: The Approach of the Omora Ethnobotanical Park. Ecology & Society 11(1): 43. (Rozzi, R. F. Massardo, C. Anderson, K. Heidinger & J. Silander Jr., 2006.);

or

Field Environmental Philosophy and Biocultural Conservation: The Omora Ethnobotanical Park Educational Program. Environmental Ethics 30 (3): 325-336. (Rozzi, R., X. Arango, F. Massardo, C. Anderson, K. Heidinger & K. Moses. 2008.

I look forward to continue our fruitful research, and educational collaborations with Dr. Heidinger, and his new Biocitizen School of Field Environmental Philosophy.

Ricardo Rozzi, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Philosophy & Religion Studies
1704 W. Mulberry, EESAT Bldg 225, of. 320 E
P.O.Box 310920
University of North Texas
Denton, TX 76203-0920
Tel.: 940-369-7796 (or 940-565-2266); Fax: 940-565-4448
rozzi@unt.edu

Parque Etnobotanico Omora
Director
Universidad de Magallanes
Instituto de Ecologia y Biodiversidad Chile (IEB)
Fundacion Omora
Puerto Williams, Provincia Antartica Chilena, Chile

“Words in the Woods: A Site Dedicated to the Cultivation of the Literary Mind” was a site offered within UConn Mentor Connection, an enrichment program that allowed secondary students interested in literature, creative writing, and environmental studies to explore their interests under the supervision of then doctoral student, Kurt Heidinger.

Every summer the group shared common interests and talents and the students thrived as they read the authors’ works, hiked in similar environments, and were inspired by their studies (and one another)! They shared their writing and absorbed the feedback from their peers and mentor. At the end of the program, they would happily report that both their writing skills and confidence in themselves soared as a result of the experience. It is a most unique, invigorating and rewarding experience for young people interested in the earth, the environment, and writing.

Heather L. Spottiswoode
Program Manager, UCONN Mentor Connection
www.gifted.uconn.edu/mentor