Cultivating the biophilic self

Urpo Harva as a theorist of environmental adult education




environmental adult education, self-cultivation, biophilia, Urpo Harva


This article presents ecological thinking of the Finnish educational philosopher, Urpo Harva (1910–1994). Harva's theories of adult education are strongly linked to the theory of self-cultivation developed in Finnish educational theory particularly in the early 20th century, according to which adults need to develop themselves as moral agents in their relations with others and the ecological environment to reach mature adulthood. In addition to his work as a professor, Harva was an active social debater, writing a significant number of columns and essays for Finnish magazines. The present article uses abductive content analysis on 31 of these columns and essays written between 1971 and 1994 to uncover the basics of Harva’s environmental adult education theory. The analysis showed that readers are encouraged to adopt a “biophilic” or nurturing attitude towards nature, as this will provide the necessary skills for ensuring a more sustainable future.


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How to Cite

Kallio, J. (2023). Cultivating the biophilic self: Urpo Harva as a theorist of environmental adult education. European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 15(2).



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