Long-term wellb-eing impacts of ‘green care’
Supervisors: Dr Nadia von Benzon and Dr Amanda Bingley
This studentship seeks to explore the long-term benefits of access to outdoor green and blue space. The research would consider the long-term impact of different sorts of health and well-being activities in outdoor green and blue spaces when accessed in different environmental and social contexts.
The short-term positive and therapeutic benefits of being in, and even viewing, outdoor green and blue space are well documented in the literature – including effects on mental and physical health, well-being, and social capital. These benefits have been demonstrated at all stages across the lifecourse, for men and women, and in relation to reductions in symptoms of a range of mental and physical pathologies such as depression or perception of pain.
However, there have, to date, been few studies that explore the long-term benefits of engagement in and with ‘nature’, and the extent to which these activities, such as engagement with forest schools, horticulture, equine therapy, care farms, pet therapy or wilderness camps, continue to have impact once the individual is no longer engaged with the particular intervention. Yet understanding the potential long-term impact of these activities is of value to third sector activity providers, educators, primary care trusts, other funders, and decision-makers. Research may demonstrate that particular sorts of interventions, or longevity of the duration of the intervention, have longer term benefits than others, or that intervention at a particular point in the lifecourse or with particular conditions, is more effective.
The PhD student would be given the opportunity to develop a mixed methods study over two interconnected phases of research:
- To conduct a systematic review that explores the results of research addressing the benefits of nature-based interventions across the lifecourse published over the last three decades. This review will be used to underpin the design of phase two of the research.
- To develop a qualitative research project that explores the long-term effects of nature-based interventions among children, young people and adults who had experience of taking part in nature-based interventions at least five years previously. This would involve participant recruitment through a wide range of channels that might include conservation organisations, forest schools, local and national community wildlife trusts, local newspapers and social media. The student would be encouraged to develop a methodology that was sympathetic to the potential diversity of participants. This is likely to involve interviews, focus groups, and may well involve the use of creative and ‘participatory’ methods such as photo elicitation and art activities.
What’s in it for you?
You will be supervised and supported to complete and submit your PhD thesis for assessment. You will be encouraged to submit papers for publication and disseminate findings at academic conferences and seminars. These publications and conference papers would be supported by the supervisors who both have a clear track record of publications in this field. The data from this research would also underpin an application for a significant, collaborative research grant to fund a longitudinal study, such as the Wellcome Trust. You would have the opportunity to contribute to this grant application if you wished, so there is the potential for this PhD to generate a further postdoctoral research project.
Who should apply?
The research requires a social scientist interested in health, well-being, and concepts around therapeutic/salutogenic environments, who is happy to work at interdisciplinary boundaries. The candidate must have a good undergraduate degree and ideally have finished, or be close to finishing, a masters degree. Relevant disciplinary backgrounds include human geography, medical social science, sociology, anthropology, and social and environmental psychology. You should have experience and interest in using qualitative methods and a demonstrable interest in research with marginalised people. You must be willing to travel within the UK to complete fieldwork and attend conferences. Experience of publishing, or otherwise disseminating your own research, is desirable but not essential.
The small print
Studentship funding: Full studentship (UK/EU tuition fees and stipend (£14,553 2017/18 [tax free])) for UK/EU students for 3.5 years. Unfortunately funding is not available for International (non EU) students.
Academic Requirements: First-class or 2.1 (Hons) degree, or Masters degree (or equivalent) in an
Deadline for applications: Midnight, 20 April 2018
Provisional Interview Date: TBC
Start Date: October 2018
For further information or informal discussion about the position, please contact Nadia von Benzon –
Application process: Please upload a completed application form (available from this link), outlining your background and suitability for this project and a CV at LEC Postgraduate Research Applications. Applications and CV’s must be submitted as either word documents or PDF files, no other file types are accepted. Please note only applications submitted as per these instructions will be considered. Please do not email applications in as they will not be considered. You also require two references, please send the reference form (available from this link), with your details completed, to your two referees and ask them to email it to Andy Harrod (firstname.lastname@example.org), Postgraduate Research (PGR) Coordinator, Lancaster Environment Centre, by the deadline. References must be submitted as either Word documents or PDF files, no other file types are accepted.
Due to the limited time between the closing date and the interview date, it is essential that you ensure
references are submitted by the closing date or as soon as possible. Please note if English is not your first language you will be required to provide evidence of your proficiency in English. This evidence is only required if you are offered the funded position, it is not required as part of this application process.
Source: Lancaster University
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