Neighbourhood Nature: Observing, Interacting, Learning (55+)

Do we suffer from a nature deficit or a nature knowledge deficit? Without truly seeing the nature that’s all around us, we can’t enjoy its beauty or place ourselves within the larger discussion of climate change.

Through a mix of discussion and mini-lectures, we’ll increase our connection to the plants and animals of our city’s deceptively mundane lanes, alleys and backyards. Our learning will be driven by observations and commentary from everyone in the course, in the form of photos and descriptions from your own neighbourhood that you will create and bring to class. You’re also asked to bring your curiosity and a willingness to see your everyday environment with new eyes and then share your discoveries.

Note: This small class involves active participation and group discussion, including significant student contribution to the course content.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

Currently not available for registration.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you should be able to do the following:

  • Observe, record, and report on local nature more effectively
  • Explore the relationship between climate change and your local natural world
  • Identify actions that can be taken to support the benefits of your local natural world
  • Relate the beauty and value of elements of the natural world at a local level
  • Note and describe plants and animals in your local natural environment

Learning methods

You will learn through group discussion, facilitated by the instructor, of your own images and observations of the local natural environment. For Liberal Arts Certificate for 55+ students: you will write a reflective essay.


Week 1

Why this course? What is “neighborhood nature”? What does “highly interactive” mean in practice for this course? (Observational expectations set out for Week 2)

Week 2

First round of reporting back on observations, by students and instructor. What are we seeing, what themes are showing up? (Observational expectations set out for Week 3)

Week 3

This week’s theme to be worked out by the students and instructor; what are we seeing, what are implications or indicators of climate change in our neighborhoods? (Observational expectations set out for the theme of Week 4)

Week 4

This week’s theme; what do people do to bring nature closer to themselves? What are we seeing, are there implications for climate change? Guest speaker for part of session. (Observational expectations set out for the theme of Week 5)

Week 5

This week’s theme; water access and usage in neighborhood nature. Guest speaker for part of session. (Observational expectations set out for Week 6)

Week 6

Bringing it all together; highlighting experiences, learnings and feelings, and discussing how to keep neighborhood nature with us.

Books, materials and resources

Reading material (if applicable) will be available in class. Students will share their neighbourhood nature observations in-class; the observations can be recorded as notes, sketches, or digital images (of any kind, including from phone cameras). More details about the observations will be discussed during the first class.

Academic integrity and student conduct

You are expected to comply with Simon Fraser University’s Academic Integrity and Student Conduct Policies. Please click here for more details. Simon Fraser University is committed to creating a scholarly community characterized by honesty, civility, diversity, free inquiry, mutual respect, individual safety, and freedom from harassment and discrimination.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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