THE UNIVERSITY GENESIS: A TRANSFORMATIVE PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
L’Université dans la Nature is a non-profit organization founded in 2014 in Montreal, Canada.
It was created by Hubert Mansion, a former lawyer, following an experience of immersion in nature after a severe burn-out.
Unable to use conventional treatments that would have asked him to speak out, he withdrew into the wilderness and deeply felt a tremendous impact on his mental health. He then decided to seek the scientific basis and discovered a vast corpus of studies on the physiological, psychological and cognitive impact of nature that were still little known.
Convinced of the enormous benefits that it can bring to his contemporaries, he decided to create, with his wife Emilia and a group of friends, what would become L’Université dans la Nature.
WHY “UNIVERSITY” ?
Because nature is a place of knowledge.
For millions of years, living beings have created and developed strategies for survival, collaboration, communication and adaptation. The totality of this knowledge is immense: nature is a university.
It is a place of inspiration for human thought that was born in nature and developed through nature.
For centuries, universities have been places of thinking and reflection on society. Beyond the transmission of knowledge, they aimed to solve theoretical problems related to the development of civilization and formed the crucible of major social movements.
L’Université dans la Nature is part of this tradition.
We bring people from all walks of life together around common values of connection with nature, simplicity and cognitive freedom to participate in the development of a society in which nature balances technological developments.
ESTABLISHING A NATURE REFLEX
Today the University has identified more than 1000 scientific studies and meta-analyses on the impact of nature in hospitals, companies, schools, workplaces, individual health and public health.
It shows that contact with nature reduces mortality, increases the immune system, memory, restores attention, repairs cognitive fatigue and stress, promotes productivity and creativity. A population that is in closer contact with nature is healthier both physically and mentally.
However, the Canadian and North American population is less and less in contact with nature : North Americans spend more than 90% of their time indoors and move away from the population that has accompanied them for 99.6% of their historical development.
We believe that it is urgent to reverse this trend, which is profoundly and lastingly affecting public and individual health.
It is essential to implement in Canadian society, which has more abundant nature than many others, the reflex of using nature as a preventive public health tool. Research indicates that a rapprochement with nature in many sectors of society would have significant economic and health impacts.
Why so little nature in schools, hospitals, workplaces when the unanimity of the scientific community underlines the multiple benefits of the presence of natural elements in these daily settings? Why so many problems of attention fatigue, attention deficit, stress, estimated at several tens of billions of dollars per year, when a recourse to nature could considerably reduce the effects of urban life?
THE ROLE OF DECISION-MAKERS
Implementing in Canadian society the reflex to use nature as a preventive public health tool is the objective of the Nature Reflex.
This national initiative, based on an abundant scientific corpus, requires the collaboration of federal, provincial and municipal authorities with whom we work to provide information and to influence.
But it also concerns civil society decision-makers who can impact the daily lives of thousands of individuals within their organizations.
To community leaders, L’Université dans la Nature provides:
1 – Scientific knowledge : the measurement of impacts on productivity, psychological and physical health, short and long-term effects. The population as a whole is under-informed about the impact of nature.
2 – Know-how : what are the solutions that can be applied within organizations?
OUR SOCIAL IMPACT
Stress, academic expectations, financial pressure accumulate on university students and affect their psychological health. We believe that no degree will allow these decision-makers of tomorrow to build a healthier and more balanced world if their own psychological health is fragile.
All over the world, the figures are alarming :
– In Canada, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-34 year olds.
– 78% of students in the United Kingdom experienced a mental illness problem during the year. A third had thoughts of suicide.
– More than 50% of American students reported experiencing overwhelming anxiety episodes in the past 12 months.
L’Université dans la Nature is therefore committed to devoting a significant portion of its income to offering university students free workshops.
Our impact is thus twofold:
– To contribute to the mental restoration of students
– To implement nature in their lifestyle habits and, in the case of future medical practitioners, in their prescriptions.
THE UNIVERSITY IN ACTION
L’Université dans la Nature (UdN) is the first research centre in North America entirely dedicated to the study and dissemination of the impact of nature on human beings.
UdN is in contact with many researchers around the world as well as hundreds of public and private initiatives aimed at using nature for individual and collective well-being.
RAISE AWARENESS, INFORM, TRAIN
L’Université dans la Nature has carried out training missions at Montreal Technoparc (Montreal 2015), Summit of Minds (Chamonix, France, 2018), Highwater (Quebec City, 2018), created in association with McGill University (Building 21) the The Forest workshop for university students (October 2018-July 2019), and supported the IT company Cofomo in greening its offices (Montreal, 2017).
It has launched an awareness campaign with Eco-Health (Ontario, Canada), the University of Melbourne (Australia) and FP Innovation (University of British Columbia). It inspired Montréal International to bring together entrepreneurs in the wilderness (Austria, 2018) and participates in the Pôle régional en enseignement supérieur de l’Estrie PRESE (2019) program, an innovative program to promote psychological health in the Estrie student community (Qc, Canada)
It supports Plant Kingdom, a nature contact programme for disadvantaged areas (Belgium, Germany) and is studying a biophilic design project for a daycare centre in disadvantaged areas.
In June 2019, L’Université dans la Nature will launch a new experiential activity to discover the impact of nature on the cognitive system: the Nature Break Program .