Catherine Jordan

Professor, Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health
Faculty, Department of Pediatrics
Core Faculty Member, Center for Neurobehavioral Development


Dr. Cathy Jordan, pediatric neuropsychologist by training, is a Professor of Pediatrics as well as the Institute on the Environment's (IonE) Director for Leadership and Education.  At IonE, Cathy leads a team that cultivates sustainability awareness in students and supports sustainability-savvy leaders with the skills that make them more effective change agents.
As a former pediatric neuropsychologist, Cathy has had a long-standing interest in the influence of environments on children's health and development. Early in her career she focused on the influence of environmental risks, such as lead overburden, on children's cognitive and behavioral development. She later turned her attention to the positive impact of nature contact – through nature play, nature-based learning, and therapeutic uses of nature – on children's physical and mental health and educational outcomes and development of a stewardship ethic. Cathy believes that the establishment of a strong connection to the natural world is critical to both child development and the development of concern for our planet, and it is important to establish that connection in childhood.
Cathy also serves as the consulting Director of Research for the Children & Nature Network, a national nonprofit leading a global movement to increase equitable access to nature so that children – and natural places – can thrive. In this role, Cathy leads efforts to make the burgeoning body of research evidence on nature's benefits accessible to diverse audiences and to network researchers and practitioners across the country in efforts to advance research on nature-based learning and the translation of that research to formal and nonformal educational practice.
Cathy has worked extensively in efforts to build capacity for participatory partnerships between academic institutions and communities, and to support the community-engaged scholars that do this work. Cathy co-developed and co-taught for six years a course on community-based participatory research for a mixed audience of graduate students and community leaders. She has also developed several resources for faculty seeking promotion or tenure as community-engaged scholars and for Promotion & Tenure Committee members seeking to enhance their capacity to fairly evaluate community-engaged scholars for career advancement. She offers several professional development workshops to faculty, staff, students, and Promotion & Tenure Committee members at University of Minnesota. In recognition of her contributions to community-engaged scholarship, she is an inaugural inductee of the Academy of Community Engagement Scholarship, and recipient of the 2018 Medical School nomination for the President's Community Engaged Scholar Award, the 2018 Department of Pediatrics Child Health Advocacy Award and the 2012 President's Outstanding Community Service Award.
Cathy earned her B.A. with high honors in psychology from Oberlin College and her PhD in clinical psychology from Wayne State University and completed post-doctoral training in pediatric neuropsychology at the University of Minnesota.

Research Summary

Community-based Participatory Research; Community-engaged Scholarship; Nature-based educationl; Developmental impact of outdoor experiences on youth


PhD in Clinical Psychology, Neuropsychology, Research Methods, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

Fellowships, Residencies, and Visiting Engagements

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Pediatric Clinical Neuroscience,
University of Minnesota Medical School
Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

Honors and Recognition

Inaugural Fellow, Academy of Community Engagement Scholarship
UMN President’s Outstanding Community Service Award
UMN President's Community-Engaged Scholar Award - Medical School recipient
UMN Department of Pediatrics Child Health Advocacy Award, Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota
Excellence in Child Health Advocacy, Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota



General Pediatrics & Adolescent Health
717 Delaware St SE, 3rd floor
Minneapolis, MN 55414