For me, the best bit of the Far 'n' Near conference was the presentation by Matt Stevenson on Attention Restoration Theory. This was an afternoon session on methodology, and the three other talks were all almost as good.
I enjoyed the talks because of the more informal atmosphere and because we could 'engage' with the presenters – despite the best attempts of Natural England's moderator / chair to limit this to a conventional question : response format. Matt's talk was about theory, and he had data, so we were doubly blessed.
But he did leave some things unexamined. The phrase "engage with nature", for example. I have no idea what anyone means when they say this (and it gets used a lot by outdoor learning types). I asked what "engage" meant and this resulted in some revealing exchanges (despite the best efforts of the moderator).
There is an "engagement spectrum" it seems. At one end there is gazing at a picture of "nature" (which is itself therapeutic, it seems); at the other, there is what someone called a "full body experience". This obviously means more than just being outside, and implies doing something – though what, wasn't clear. I felt a strong need for a typology.