The Effects of Natural Landscapes on Inspiration: An Exploratory Study


  • Brad Daniel 2nd Nature TREC (Training, Research, Education, Consulting) and Western Carolina University
  • Jim Shores Asbury University
  • W. Brad Faircloth University of North Carolina - Asheville and 2nd Nature TREC (Training, Research, Education, Consulting)



topophilia, landscape, inspiration, national park, field course


The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the relationship between natural landscapes and inspiration through the lens of topophilia—the affinity people have for certain places or landscape features. Participants were students on a traveling college field course called American Ecosystems. The 2015 course (n=15, 26 days) visited 19 U.S. National Parks, Monuments, and Grasslands. The 2017 course (n=15, 18 days) visited 14 locations. On both courses, students studied the flora, fauna, ecology, climate, geology, landforms, and environmental issues associated with each location. Four factors emerged that encouraged inspiration: 1) vertical landscape features, 2) direct and varied experience of place, 3) overcoming personal challenges provided by the landscapes, 4) novel experiences. Students ranked landscapes as more inspirational if they spent more time there, had opportunity to see and learn about them from a greater number of vantage points, and had more direct and varied experiences within them. Subscribe to JOREL


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