Events

Nature and Wellbeing Forum, Bristol 

13th June 2017. Watershed, Bristol 2pm-6pm

A Nature and Wellbeing Forum held as part of Bristol Festival of Nature.

What do we mean when we talk about ‘nature’ and ‘wellbeing’? How do our understandings of these terms influence our perceptions of the relationship between flourishing ecosystems and human health? This event will investigate the meaning of ‘nature’ and ‘wellbeing’ in different cultural, environmental, therapeutic, and research contexts. Expert speakers will share their experiences, identifying shared values and points of difference. The event will showcase the perspectives of charities involved in social, environmental campaigning, practitioners interested in innovative and sustainable approaches to care, academics working in cultural, scientific and educational fields, and representatives of local wellbeing initiatives and community groups. There will also be workshops, break out sessions and many opportunities to contribute to the discussion.

Book a free ticket through Eventbrite.

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Nature and Wellbeing Symposium, Edinburgh

Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities, 23rd June 2017

What do we mean when we talk about ‘nature’ and ‘wellbeing’? How do our understandings of these terms influence our perceptions of the relationship between flourishing ecosystems and human health, and how have nature and wellbeing relations changed historically? This event will investigate the meaning of ‘nature’ and ‘wellbeing’ in different cultural, environmental, therapeutic, and research contexts. Expert speakers will share their experiences and expertise, identifying shared values and points of difference. The event will showcase the perspectives of practitioners involved in innovative and sustainable approaches to care, academics working in cultural, scientific and educational fields, and representatives of wellbeing initiatives and community groups. There will also be guided walks and activities and many opportunities to contribute to the discussion.

Symposium Timetable

9.50am: Meet at Pollockhalls reception

10.00 – 12.00: Slow Walk, Holyrood Park. Led by Pam Candea, Natural Change

Return to Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities, Hope Park Square, EH8 9NW

12.30-13.00: Lunch

13.00-13.20: Introduction Dr Samantha Walton, Bath Spa University

13.20-14.10: Talk

‘Therapeutic Landscapes: Designing nature to create healthy spaces in Britain, 1700-1948’. Dr Clare Hickman, Lecturer in History, The University of Chester

This talk will explore the long history of designing and utilising nature in order to improve health, from eighteenth century elite landscape gardens with their plunge pools, through the institutional gardens of hospitals, asylums and sanatoria, and concluding with a discussion of the inclusion of parks and gardens as integral features of urban planning. In this way interactions with designed nature will be seen in the context of changing medical understanding, rapid urbanisation and a fear of diseases caused by civilisation.

14.20-16.20:  Roundtable: ‘Activities in ‘Nature’ for Improved Personal and Social Wellbeing: Practice and Research’. Led by Rebecca Crowther, University of Edinburgh

From crossing liminal boundaries and the transformation of the self through to practice in ‘healing journeys’, social policy, mental health, personal development, education, place making and community initiative – This panel will explore themes within current research, individual practice and grass roots work that address the outdoors and personal and social wellbeing.

Rebecca Crowther, PhD Candidate, The University of Edinburgh

Sam Gardiner and Rachael Weedon, New Caledonian Woodlands, Edinburgh

Dr Matluba Kahn, The University of Edinburgh & University of Engineering & Technology Bangladesh

Dr Margaret Kerr, Psychotherapist, researcher and outdoor facilitator, Glasgow

Athina Georgiou Shippi, PhD Candidate, The University of Edinburgh

Marie-Amelie Viatte, Connected by Nature, Inspiring Scotland, The Power of Food Festival, Edinburgh

16.20-16.40: Discussion

16.40-17.10: Mindfulness Practice. Led by Dr Margaret Kerr, Psychotherapist, researcher and outdoor facilitator, Glasgow

17.10-17.25: Reflection, Closing remarks

17.25-18.00Wine reception

See the event listing and find out about the venue at the IASH website

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Past events

Nature and Wellbeing Workshop, Bath Spa University

8th May 2017. 108 Commons, Newton Park. BA2 9BN

An interdisciplinary Nature and Wellbeing workshop 12.45pm – 16.15pm followed by a talk by Mya-Rose Craig, ‘Birdgirl’

Timetable

12.45-13.00: Arrival, Lunch

13.00-13.10 Introductions

13.10-13.30: Definitions, ‘Nature’ and ‘Wellbeing’

13.30-14.30: Practitioner Perspectives

Emily Malik, EcoWild / Philippa Forsey, Creativity Works / Sally Collister, Creativity Works / Morwhenna Woolcock, Creativity Works

Break

14.40-15.00: Student films from Film, Television and Digital Production, Bath Spa University. Introduced by Mary Mullen, Bath Spa University

15.00-16.00: Research Perspectives

Alyson Lewis, Bath Spa University / Nigel Chaffey, Bath Spa University / Sophie Williams, Bath Spa University / Sian Sullivan, Bath Spa University

16.00-16.15: Reflections, Definitions, Closing Summary

Break

16.30-17.30: Mya-Rose Craig, ‘Born to Bird’

17.30-18.00: Drinks reception

The workshop will featuring academic speakers and representatives from environmental groups. Information about the event and key themes: Nature Wellbeing Workshop 8th May

Please email s.walton [at] bathspa.ac.uk for more details and to book a place.

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Born to Bird talk poster for printing

Speculative Lunch, IASH, University of Edinburgh

I held a Speculative Lunch at IASH, University of Edinburgh on 27th February.

‘The theme for this speculative lunch is the relationship between nature and wellbeing. Scholars and practitioners are invited to this informal meeting, which aims to discuss disciplinary specific understandings of both ‘nature’ and ‘wellbeing’, and to explore their intersection within their own field of expertise.’

Presentation slides: Nature Wellbeing

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I also held a Nature and Wellbeing workshop at the AHRC Leadership Fellows Conference on 6th March 2017 in Manchester. Here is the plan for the workshop, and you can download the samples of literature which I circulated here: Handout Workshop AHRC

The workshop focuses on the theme of ‘Nature’, ‘Wellbeing’, and their interrelation. I will begin the session by asking participants to reflect on the meaning of the two words, taking into account different cultural, historical and disciplinary understandings of each. We will then compare and contrast different interpretations of the words’ meanings, looking for continuities and differences. This will lead into a discussion, which I will facilitate, of how nature and wellbeing might interrelate at the present moment, and how they may have interrelated historically.

I will then circulate very short readings of literary texts (some poetry, fiction and non-fiction prose) and discuss with participants a) the relationship between nature and wellbeing established in the text, and b) to what extent the textual representations of nature-wellbeing relations coincide with or differ from the responses generated through individual exercises and group discussion. We will spend some time discussing the possible reasons for similarities and differences, focusing in particular on cultural and historical context and influencing factors such as gender, race and class-based experience. To conclude the workshop, I will introduce the group to definitions and uses of ‘nature’ and ‘wellbeing’ currently in use in environmental, health and related third sector contexts. This will lead into the final discussion, in which we will question the value of analysing literary texts in interdisciplinary ways, e.g. in order to address wider sociological, environmental and medical trends.

Ideally, workshop participants will come from a range of disciplines and backgrounds, as a diversity of perspectives and expertise will mean the first exercise (defining ‘nature’ and ‘wellbeing’) returns an eclectic and even contradictory set of values and interpretations.

Find out more about these events on my blog.