Junker, Jana

Junker,  Jana
Start date:
October 2022
Research Topic:
Impact of nature engagement on the health and well-being of children from disadvantaged communities
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Prof Merideth Gattis, Prof Wouter Poortinga, Dr Kersty Hobson
Supervising school:
School of Psychology,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

For most of human evolution, humans lived in close proximity with nature and the start of mass urbanisation happened relatively recent on an evolutionary scale. For this reason, the biophilia hypothesis (Wilson, 1984) proposes that humans feel best when they are exposed to nature – their natural habitat. To support this hypothesis, it could for example be shown that being in nature or even just adding plants to rooms, decreases speech anxiety (Buttelmann & Römpke, 2014) and that from a young age, children prefer to interact with live animals as opposed to toys (LoBue et al., 2013). However, direct contact to nature has been steadily decreasing, particular in children from disadvantaged communities, who often don’t have the means to access more natural environments.
For this reason, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust has designed the Generation Wild programme to connect children from disadvantaged communities to nature. The purpose of this PhD project is to evaluate this programme and investigate how the children benefit from it. A mixed-method approach will be employed for this evaluation covering both qualitative and quantitative measures consisting of a variety of different approaches, such as participatory methods, behavioural studies and observation.