Texas Tech University

2020 President’s Emerging Engaged Scholarship Award

Promoting Child Development, Inclusion, and Health Through Natural Learning

The Coalition for Natural Learning (CNL) is a collaboration between Texas Tech University faculty, Texas state agencies, departments, organizations, and childcare centers. It was created as a more formalized recognition of the ongoing multidisciplinary efforts between Dr. Kristi Gaines (Department of Design), Dr. Malinda Colwell (Human Development and Family Studies), Dr. Charles Klein, and Dr. Muntazar Monsur (Landscape Architecture). The CNL engages with its partners through research, teaching, service, outreach & engagement, working towards the common goal of creating environments that promote natural learning for children and their caregivers. In addition, environments are designed for people of different abilities (instead of disabilities), with the goal to create equitable spaces.


The work of the Coalition is providing state agencies, community leaders, administrators, educators, students, and parents resources for utilizing natural environments to promote the socio-emotional, physical, and cognitive development of children. The team views their work as a springboard to a much broader approach to natural learning paradigms in which a multidisciplinary team can work to improve educational and life-style opportunities using natural systems and approaches.


Kristi Gaines, Associate Professor, Design, TTU College of Human Sciences; Associate Dean, TTU Graduate School
Charles Klein, Associate Professor, Landscape Architecture, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources
Malinda Colwell, Professor, Human Development and Family Studies, TTU College of Human Sciences
Muntazar Monsur, Assistant Professor, Landscape Architecture, TTU College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources