The University of Derby’s annual Nature Connections conference will take place on 20 June 2018 and the call for abstracts is open until 8th April 2018. Details and booking are available here: https://www.derby.ac.uk/enterprisecentre/events/nature-connections. It’s the fourth in the series and a popular forum for bringing together key research, policy and practice communities with a specific interest in connecting people and nature. The conference is being supported by Natural England’s Strategic Research Network.
Our themes for this year will be:
- Connecting people with nature for wellbeing
- Nature friendly education – encouraging children to be close to nature
- Connecting people with nature in towns and cities
- Connecting with the beauty of nature
These themes have been specially chosen to align with the Government’s 25-Year Environment plan, in particular the actions highlighted in Chapter 3 on ‘Connecting people with the environment to improve health and wellbeing’. Our aim is to highlight the latest evidence and to identify the implications for research, policy and practice.
The themes of nature, well-being, connection and beauty are represented by this year’s keynote speakers. Cindy McPherson Frantz, Professor of Psychology and Environmental Studies at Oberlin College and Conservatory (USA), Gregor Henderson, National Lead, Wellbeing and Mental Health at Public Health England and Howard Davies, Chief Executive of the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs).
Prof. McPherson Frantz’s research focuses on humans’ relationship with the natural world, with an emphasis on promoting sustainable behaviour. Research in collaboration with Steve Mayer suggests that both individuals and the environment benefit when people feel connected to the natural world. This work includes key papers on measuring nature connectedness, the role of nature connectedness in well-being and environmental education. Widely cited publications include:
- Mayer, F. S., & Frantz, C. M. (2004). The connectedness to nature scale: A measure of individuals’ feeling in community with nature. Journal of environmental psychology, 24(4), 503-515.
- Frantz, C. M., & Mayer, F. S. (2014). The importance of connection to nature in assessing environmental education programs. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 41, 85-89.
- Mayer, F. S., Frantz, C. M., Bruehlman-Senecal, E., & Dolliver, K. (2009). Why is nature beneficial? The role of connectedness to nature. Environment and behavior, 41(5), 607-643.
- Frantz, C., Mayer, F. S., Norton, C., & Rock, M. (2005). There is no “I” in nature: The influence of self-awareness on connectedness to nature. Journal of environmental psychology, 25(4), 427-436.
Gregor Henderson is a former adviser to the Department of Health and has led public mental health programmes such as the internationally renowned National Programme for Improving Mental Health and Wellbeing. Gregor believes in combining policy, research, practice and people’s lived experiences to help transform the way people and communities think and act about mental health and wellbeing.
Howard Davies is passionate about the natural environment and the relationship between people and place. He started his career in farming, before moving into research and development. Subsequent work has focused on practical conservation organisations and before he took up his current role he was Director of Wildlife Trusts Wales.
Nature Connections 2018 will demonstrate how our health and well-being is linked to a connection with nature and its beauty. And of course, both diversity of wildlife and a healthy environment are key to nature’s beauty.