Research can fall short of having societal impact due to traditions of the research enterprise as well as the perceptions of researchers about their appropriate role. What if researchers saw their work as part of a social movement to make change, and the research enterprise was designed to encourage that view and to facilitate relevance, rigor, activation of research, and a collaborative approach to address research questions aligned with a common goal? What would such a research enterprise look like? In this article, we describe the application of “network leadership strategies” to develop a “generative, social-impact network” to support the efforts of a nature-based learning research network to advance knowledge of the natural environment's impact on children's learning and educational outcomes. The activities and achievements of the nature-based learning research network are examined through the lens of network-building approaches aiming to create social impact. Though inspired by and grounded in these approaches, the reality is that certain constraints influenced our ability to function collaboratively as a generative, social-impact network and to fully realize the potential of this approach. We describe these challenges and offer recommendations for other researchers interested in enhancing the social impact of research.


network building, network weaving, network design, social impact, nature-based learning, research collaboration, research network, generative network

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

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