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Making Sense of Nature: A Creative Exploration of Young People’s Relationship with the Natural Environment

Thesis Abstract
Can you imagine a world where no-one goes outside? Our world is under threat from human activities, from what we do, and the way we do it. This will have a huge impact on our future lives, and we need to think about how we protect places and the people, animals and plants found there. Whilst, there is a widely-recognised need to address this threat, there is a specific focus on how we can involve young people in this process. Within this, there is additional concern about how little time children and young people spend outside. My qualitative study responds to these concerns by exploring young people’s relationship with nature, and how this may be developed through the projects we offer them. The participating projects have been spread across England, from south-east to north-west, including rural, coastal and urban environments. The young people, aged between 11 and 25, were from diverse backgrounds, with a wide range of individual needs. This transdisciplinary research has used an innovative blended methodology, combining hermeneutics,
(auto)ethnography and action research to explore the topic. I have been creative in my approach, preferring everyday language and making use of stories. I have listened to and observed people’s stories, and created new stories based on these experiences. My work emphasises the importance of communication, how we talk to and with people, and how we talk about the natural environment. Contributions to practice include the development of a new toolkit providing guidance for practitioners on how to work effectively outdoors, with young people identified as having special educational needs and/or disabilities. Contributions to knowledge include a new conceptualisation of the different forms of story, and a new methodological approach (HEAR) to explore outdoor learning experiences. These outcomes are founded in young peoples’ perspectives and grounded in practice.

In 2016 I was commissioned to develop a practical toolkit, with a specific purpose of supporting practitioners with their continuing professional development (CPD). We're ALL in the Wild  is available to download from here 

For information on some of my other presentations and papers on my research please see Research and Publications Page

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