A.P.E.X. - Ask. Ponder. Educate. [X].

Florence Williams
The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative

November 1, 2018
The Great Hall

Reflection  | Podcast | Photos




Florence Williams is a journalist, bestselling author, podcaster and public speaker. She is a contributing editor at Outside Magazine and a freelance writer for the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, The New York Review of Books, Slate, Mother Jones and numerous other publications. She is also the writer and host of the new Audible Original series, Breasts Unbound, as well as Outside Magazine’s Double-X Factor podcast. Her public speaking includes keynotes at Google, the Smithsonian, the Seattle Zoo, the Aspen Ideas Festival and many other corporate, academic and nonprofit venues.

A fellow at the Center for Humans and Nature and a visiting scholar at George Washington University, her work focuses on the environment, health and science.

Her first book, BREASTS: A Natural and Unnatural History (W.W. Norton 2012) received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in science and technology and the 2013 Audie in general nonfiction. It was also named a notable book of 2012 by the New York Times. Her most recent book, The Nature Fix, was an Audible bestseller and was named a top summer read by J.P Morgan. Florence was named “Author of the week” by The Week in May, 2012. The Wall Street Journal calls her writing “droll and crisp,” which makes her feel like a pastry.

In 2007-2008, Florence was a Scripps Fellow at the Center of Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado. She has received many awards, including six magazine awards from the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the John Hersey Prize at Yale. Her work has been anthologized in numerous books, including Outside 25, the New Montana Story, How the West Was Warmed and Best American Science and Nature Writing 2008. Florence serves on the board of her favorite non-profit, High Country News, and lives with her family in Washington, D.C.

SUU Press Release



Event Reflection

by Billy Clouse

As part of the Eccles Visiting Scholar program, writer and speaker Florence Williams visited campus to talk with students about the benefits of spending time outdoors. Prior to her November 1st A.P.E.X. Event, she has presented everywhere from Google to the Smithsonian.

For much of her life, Williams lived near nature, so when her family moved to Washington D.C., she started to notice a difference in her mental state. The noise and monochromatic color scheme led her to feel more anxious and depressed.

Curious to know the effects of engagement with nature, Williams traveled the world to write a series of articles about what she now calls “Nature Deficit Disorder.”

Forest bathing is a practice in Japan where people mindfully spend time in nature, which often leads to a lower heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol. South Korea has designated healing trails that focus on human well-being; engagement with these sites have been shown to decrease anger by 75%.

According to Williams, the human brain developed for life in the outdoors, not for navigating traffic circles. Especially in urban environments, people have to work actively to avoid overstimulation, but this can often lead to fatigue. It’s no surprise then that when Swedes experience worker burnout or severe depression, horticulture therapy can work wonders.

As a rule, people who live closer to nature have lower levels of stress, depression, and disease. Although the research into these topics is fairly new, it seems that nature has even more benefits for children. Northern Europe has many forest preschools, and studies have found that children who attend them end up with better self-esteem and resilience.

In addition, women who spent more time outside as children had better body image and made more money when they were older. Initial research seems to say that this is because they focus on what they can do and the strength they have rather than their appearance.

And the effects don’t stop with academics; studies have found increases in creativity and reductions in PTSD symptoms after time outside.

It’s typical for students to experience increased stress and burnout as the end of the semester approaches, so SUU students are fortunate to be surrounded by National Parks and outdoor recreation spots. For students who don’t know where to begin, Williams said that short walks or eating lunch on a bench can start students on the path to better living.



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