Web Site

What We Do
Who We Are
Learn in Nature

Site Map

Education Index



Free Course
Free Activity


Organic Psych
Natural Systems


Key Book


Return to Homepage























































































Project NatureConnect
How Nature Works

Overview: How Nature Works


The Distinguished World Citizen Award


July 29, 1994. The Board of Directors of the World Peace University, a United Nations Non-Governmental Organization, today announced that World Peace University Professor Michael J. Cohen, Ed.D. is the recipient of the 1994 Distinguished World Citizen Award. This award honors his extraordinary 35 years as a founder of nature-connected education and mental health programs. His applied ecopsychology methods and materials catalyze global awareness and personal, social and environmental responsibility by producing conscious sensory contact with strands of the web of life.

The following is an transcript from Taproots, Journal of the Coalition for Education in the Out of Doors edited from a telephone interview with Dr. Cohen (MJC) by Harriet Kofalk (HK), Associate Editor of Talking Leaves magazine.

HK: Dr. Cohen, you say that your nature connecting work teaches people how to culture their kinship as children of Mother Earth, that this improves their relationships with themselves, society and nature. What do you mean by Earth kinship?

MJC: Even though you and I may never meet, we are psychologically connected. We share a beautiful nurturing home, our living planet, Earth. We enjoy the same migrating birds, whales and butterflies. We desire to breathe the same air, drink the same water and love our sweet land. Webstrings in Nature connect us. We are kin.

HK: How is that kinship useful in helping us achieve more balanced and responsible relationships?

MJC: Have you ever sat near a roaring brook and felt refreshed, been cheered by the vibrant song of a thrush or renewed by a sea breeze? Does a wildflower's fragrance bring you joy, a whale or snow-capped peak charge your senses? Do you like pets, house plants or heart to heart talks? People learn dramatic new ways to culturally reinforce and sustain those feelingful webstring relationships and thereby let nature further their lives.

HK: How do your techniques do that?

MJC: In natural areas, backyard to back country, I develop and teach applied ecopsychology activities that create thoughtful nature-connected moments. In these enjoyable non-language instants as many as 53 inborn webstring attraction senses safely awaken, play and intensify. Additional activities immediately validate and strengthen each sensation. This emotionally empowering process feelingly connects, fulfills and renews our inner nature with the natural world's beauty, wisdom and peace.

HK: What results from doing this?

MJC: We feel rejuvenated, more colorful and thankful and these feelings give us support. They nurture us, they satisfy our deepest natural wants. As we satisfy these wants by co-creating with nature we remove stress and dependencies that cause our disorders. The process triggers critical thinking that values natural sensory relationships. It regenerates natural connections and community within ourselves, others and the land. We become more knowledgeable, more environmentally and socially responsible. We feel better.

HK: Why do your nature-connecting activities focus on senses and feelings?

MJC: We neither learn nor earn our ability to sense, feel and enjoy natural sensations. Rather, we inherit this gift. It is a biological survival function of, by and from the web of life process. For example, imagine working hard on a hot day, the sweat dripping off your forehead, your throat parched. All that you can think of is your thirst for an ice cold glass of water. To urge us to drink water when we need it, nature created the sensation we call "thirst". It makes us aware of the dehydrated state of our being and attracts us to water. When we drink water, we connect with part of nature. It flows through us and we feel enjoyably unstressed, rewarded, quenched, fulfilled. Similarly connecting each of our 52 other natural senses with nature achieves the same results and makes perfect sense. It unstresses and enjoyably fulfills us. We feel connected.

HK: What are these 53 inherent natural senses? What roles do they play in our lives ?

MJC: The natural webstring senses include the distinct attraction sensations of: color, smell, trust, taste, community, touch, nurturing, place, play, belonging and thankfulness as well as reason, language and consciousness. In congress, these many attaction sensitivities sustain our inner nature's integrity just as natural attractions sustain the integrity and vitality of wild populations, for example: wolf communities, ant colonies or forests. (The complete list of senses and research on them is in Chapter Five of Reconnecting With Nature.)

In natural areas or in caring interpersonal relationships, our natural senses are nurtured. They come alive in us as feelings and joyfully resonate and self-regulate with their natural counterparts. The result: we feel good and relate in naturally balanced ways.

HK: It sounds like we each inherit a natural harmonic integrity. How do we lose it in our culture, while in other cultures it increases as people mature?

MJC: As a twig is bent, so grows the tree. Western authorities, from our parents to presidents, teach us to spend an average of over 95% of our lives indoors, cloistered from nature. Collectively we spend less than one day per person per lifetime in tune with natural areas. We live well over 99% of our adult lives knowing Nature through detached stories and pictures, not through the sentient pleasure of experiencing webstring connections with our natural and spiritual origins in people and places. With respect to authentic nature, we are as crippled and bewildered (wilderness disconnected) as a person born and raised in a closet. Our detachment traumatizes, prejudices and estranges us from Mother Nature and each other, from natural love, community and balance. This frustrates or injures many senses.

HK: Since nature connecting activities promote personal and global integrity, why don't more people use and teach them?

MJC: Most people don't recognize the grave underlying cause of our problems. Our greatest problem is the numbing effect our nature-closeted lives have upon our thinking. We grow up unaware that most personal, social and environmental problems result from our excessive separation from nature. We learn to conquer and injure, not embrace, nature's wisdom and sensations within and around us. We lose the benefits of nature's restorative powers.

HK: So you see reconnecting with nature as a major solution to our problems?

MJC: Dramatically, educational nature-connecting activities have shown to lastingly reverse our sensory estrangement and its adverse effects. The activities relax tensions by re-bonding our inner nature to its supportive biological home, the natural world, a form of "higher power". This restores the natural self-regulation lost by our disconnection. Our runaway non-sense changes into common sense, into ethics and stress management. We act from a supportive balance of natural loves and this promotes unity, confidence and self-esteem. Best of all, anybody can do and teach these activities. Therein lies hope.

HK: Where is your applied ecopsychology process being used?

MJC: The nature connecting techniques enhance personal growth in self-help programs and the fields of counseling, education and science teaching. They also contribute to spirituality, peace and environmental studies. Professionals in education, recovery programs and mental health use them. Some Native People call the process "Indigenous Peoples' Science" and "Awakening the Great Spirit within".

HK: Do people have to attend your classes to learn how to use your methods?

MJC: No, most people learn the techniques through my home study training books, our email courses on the Internet or my local workshops and internships.

HK: I see that parts of Well Mind, Well Earth won an award for excellence and that Vice President Albert Gore used the Connecting With Nature portion of it in his book Earth In Balance. How may people contact you or obtain your self-guiding training manuals?

MJC: Most of our descriptive material is available at our web site, or you can write me, Mike Cohen, at P.O. Box 1605, Friday Harbor, WA 98250 (360) 378-6313 or by email.



A letter from the Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, Dr. Robert Muller:

Institute of Global Education
An Associate of the United Nations Department of Public Information
Box 20728
Portland, Oregon 97220
January 3, 1995

FROM: Dr. Robert Muller
VIA: Dr. Richard Schneider

Dear Friend of Planet Earth and its People,

In recognition of his 39 years as Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations, his establishment of the University for Peace and development of global education schools, books and curriculums, Dr. Robert Muller received the Albert Schweitzer Peace Prize and the UNESCO Prize for Peace. Today, as Chancellor of the University for Peace, United Nations, Dr. Muller says:

"We must not shy from new opportunities to relate more responsibly to each other, spirit and the environment. For this reason I urge people to become involved with the remarkable grassroots learning program of Project NatureConnect. It offers an environmentally sound, hands-on educational process whose sensory nature connecting activities reduce apathy, catalyze peace and promote mental health.

"My warmest congratulations to Dr. Michael Cohen, director of Project NatureConnect, for receiving his well-deserved Distinguished World Citizen Award. I perfectly understand what he advocates. All the basic laws of optimal living are right in front of us in nature but, to our cost, we are taken away from them. The natural senses that Dr. Cohen shows we inherit are wise, unspoken, non-material attraction forces that have no name, yet Nature within and about us principally lives with them all along.

"I am familiar with Dr. Cohen and his ecopsychology work. It fulfills our personal and economic needs, deeper ideals and spirit. His self-guiding materials and courses deserve the attention of every person who seeks to reverse our troubles."

Robert Muller

For Connecting,
Dr. F. Richard Schneider, Chancellor
Institute of Global Education


What you can do:

The Orientation Course, below, responds to 32 critical life relationship questions. They are answered by enabling you to enjoy and then share online ten authentic, sensory, Nature connected attraction experiences over a 12 day to 5-week period.

Sign the Earth Day Petition for Peace on Earth Through Peace With Earth and put to use the Earth Day Activity 


After you obtain information about the Project NatureConnect program from this web site by using the Navigation guide (left column), a free, helpful 15 minute discussion by phone with a faculty member is the most efficient way to customize the program to your goals.




Share this website with a friend:

get this gear!



Special NGO consultant United Nations Economic and Social Council

Readily available, online, natural science tools
for the health of person, planet and spirit

P.O. Box 1605, Friday Harbor, WA 98250
360-378-6313 <email> www.ecopsych.com

The Natural Systems Thinking Process

Dr. Michael J. Cohen, Director

send email

All programs start with the Orientation Course contained in the book
The Web of Life Imperative.