B.A., University of California, Berkeley
M.S., University of California, Berkeley
Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Two world trends are powerfully reshaping human existence:
- The degradation if not destruction of large parts of the natural world, and
- Unprecedented technological development, both in terms of its computational sophistication and pervasiveness.
Humans will adapt to such changes. In response, some people say: “Don’t worry, adaptation is how we evolved, and adaption is good for us; we’ll be fine.” But adaptation is not always good for a species. An African elephant can “adapt” and live “sustainably” in zoo confines the size of a parking lot, but that doesn`t mean the elephant is flourishing given its evolutionary capacity. We could all adapt to living in San Quentin Prison, but that doesn`t mean we would do well. Against this backdrop, I am pursuing the following questions:
- Is it the case that frequent interactions with nature help people physically and psychologically? If so, then these empirical findings provide powerful support for a conservation agenda, for we can’t interact with that which no longer exists.
- How can interactions with nature be characterized? This agenda sets into motion what I call interaction pattern design for urban sustainability.
- Do we need interaction not just with domestic nature but more wild nature – that which is often big, untamed, unmanaged, self-organizing, and unencumbered by human artifice? I think the answer is yes. We need to rediscover the wild.
- What are the psychological effects of interacting with “Technological Nature” – technologies that mediate, augment, or simulate nature (e.g., robot pets, real-time digital windows of nature, and tele-operated gardening)?
- How can technological systems be designed to enhance the world and human flourishing?
I aim for rigor in scientific research. Depth in apprehension of the problems. Solutions that build on the authenticity of human experience. And far-ranging visions of the future.
Peter Kahn is currently accepting graduate students.
- ESRM 200 | Society and Sustainable Environments (5) - Spring
- ESRM 431 | Ecopsychology (5) - Winter
Kahn, P. H., Jr. (2018). Technological nature and human wellbeing. In M. van den Bosh & W. Bird (Eds.), Oxford Textbook of Nature and Public Health (pp. 160-164). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Link
Kahn, P. H., Jr., Weiss, T., & Harrington, K. (2018). Modeling child-nature interaction in a nature preschool: A proof of concept. Frontiers in Psychology, 9:835. Link
Kahn, P. H., Jr., Lev, E. M., Perrins, S. P., Weiss, T., Ehrlich, T., & Feinberg, D. S. (2018). Human-nature interaction patterns: Constituents of a Nature Language for environmental sustainability.Journal of Biourbanism, 1&2, 17, 41-57. Link
Hartig, T., & Kahn, P. H., Jr. (2016). Living in cities, naturally. Science, 352, 938-940. Link
Kahn, P. H., Jr. (2011). Technological nature: Adaptation and the future of human life. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Link