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Edinburgh, Crieff, Scotland

Program Description

This course involves an exploration of the relationship between the natural world and our mental health, psychological development, creativity, resilience, and overall well-being. Students will become academically and experientially familiar with the mental health/psychological benefits of connecting to the natural world through an examination of the research, reflective discussion and exercise, and experiential activities both pre-departure and in Scotland. Pre-departure will include training with MindStretchers Academy, an internationally renowned organization focusing on child development and nature-based learning. We will spend time engaging with students, educators, and leaders in nature-based kindergarten and elementary education in Scotland.

Students will quickly discover that nature is more than just's necessary for healthy development, mental health and well-being! It's also an important part of cultural identity, meaning-making, and sense of place. Terms like biophilia, place attachment, nature connectedness, and nature deficit are part of this discussion in order to first understand the human connection and then develop an academic, practical and experiential understanding of how that connection influences our thoughts, actions, emotions, and relationships.

Additional in-country experiences will include time spent with the leaders of the John Muir Way and their social connection programs that meet the needs of community members and visitors from young children to seniors.

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Location Description

Scotland is an extraordinary land of castles and lochs, forests and sea, myths and legends.

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland and the seat of Scottish government, is known for its medieval street layout, historic buildings, and an intentional preservation of green space. Situated on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth, Edinburgh offers a well-balanced mix of vibrant cityscapes with numerous opportunities for immersion in nature. In addition to being a thriving urban center, Edinburgh is also home to Arthur’s Seat, the highest point of an extinct volcano, which offers a memorable, panoramic view of the city and is accessible via a scenic hike.

The city is surrounded by rolling hills and beautiful lochs and rivers. The 134-mile John Muir Way, one of Scotland’s great trails, is less than an hour away, and a bit farther is Auchlone Nature Kindergarten, a unique school that offers children daily nature-based experiences.


Debbie C Sturm | | Graduate Psychology

Renee Staton | | Graduate Psychology


Accommodations will include short hotel stays in the capital city of Edinburgh, with close proximity to most of the major historic and cultural sites. While working with Auchlone Nature Kindergarten in Crieff, we will stay at a sustainable farmhouse with easy access to the town, a farmer's market, and a large in-home kitchen for enjoying local fruit, vegetables, cheese and breads. A third cottage-like location will position us along the John Muir Way to explore some of the social-connection programs and historical/cultural opportunities along the trail. All lodging will include shared rooms (varies). We will have internet access.

Students will be allocated a weekly meal stipend to cover approximately 10 meals a week. We will also have several groups meals, packed lunches, and shared meals during some of our site visits.

Additional Items to Consider

COVID-19 Location Information:

Each country has different requirements upon entry with regard to COVID-19. Please check this website for the most up-to-date information on what is required for the country (or countries) that are part of this program. Please note that this changes often, so we encourage you to check back frequently.

Applicant Criteria

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.0

Open to all majors and academic levels

Application Process

This list serves as an application preview. To apply, students will need to complete the following:

  • Study Abroad Online Application ($40 fee)
  • Short Essay 
  • Official transcript required for non-JMU students

Further details and instructions about these application requirements will be available upon log-in. 


Accepting Waitlist Applications Only!

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


PSYC 200 : Topics in Psychology: Nature, Creativity, Well-being (3 credits)

PSYC 400: Topics in Psychology: Nature, Creativity, Well-being (3 credits)

PSYC 680 : Graduate Topics in Psychology: Applied Nature, Creativity, Well-Being in Clinical Settings & Research (3 credits)

Courses listed here are to be used as a general guideline for program curriculum. *All courses are considered pending until approved by the Academic Department, Program, and/or College.


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