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Connection to nature has been linked to increased physical and mental health and increased performance of sustainable behaviors for individuals more connected to nature. Understanding why humans, especially younger generations, are connected to nature is an important tool for both public and environmental health. Our work used a qualitative, phenomenological study design to examine university biology students' descriptions of others' connection to nature, the frequency with which students predict their own connection to nature, and students' descriptions of the discrepancies between their prediction of their own connection to nature and their score on the Environmental Identity Scale. We found that students' descriptions of both their own and others' connection to nature centered around (1) beliefs, characteristics, looks, or other qualities of a person's identity that describe their relationship to nature and (2) specific behaviors or actions taken by a person that either directly or indirectly affect the environment. Further, most students accurately predicted their own connection to nature. Our study provides a novel analysis of students' perceptions of connection to nature that could inform programs and curricula designed to increase connection to nature in university students.

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connection to nature; education; phenomenology; qualitative; university students

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This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. © 2023 The Authors. Ecosphere published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of The Ecological Society of America.

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