Double award win for University of Derby nature research

19 November 2021

Game changing research that has transformed the way people interact with nature to improve wellbeing and promote pro-nature behaviour has received national recognition at the prestigious Green Gown Awards 2021, which recognise the exceptional sustainability initiatives being undertaken by universities and colleges across the world.

The University of Derby’s Nature Connectedness Research Group was awarded the top gong in the ‘Research with Impact – Institution’ category, beating off stiff competition from Lancaster, Loughborough, Portsmouth and Aston universities, as well as the London College of Fashion.

The ‘Pathways to Nature Connectedness’ provide a behaviour change framework for improving the human-nature relationship, which has been adopted by The National Trust, Wildlife Trust, and many others. The pathways inform the Connecting People with Nature stream of the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund and the Green Influencers scheme.

Judges thought the submission, linking the natural world and wellbeing, was a “fascinating, holistic, and timely project, combining social and environmental benefits. The impact has benefitted hundreds of thousands of people and is underpinned by strong research.”

Professor Miles Richardson, who leads the Nature Connectedness Group at the University, said:

I’m thrilled that our research into people’s relationship with nature won this award. A new relationship with nature is essential for a sustainable future, and I’m pleased we’ve been able to produce the new knowledge and tools that others can apply at scale. It is their openness to new ideas and creative application that has made this recognition of our research possible.

Sign outside Kedleston Road campus that reads #DerbyUni

The celebrations didn’t stop there, as Lea Barbett, a current Environmental Psychology PhD student at Derby, who is also part of the Nature Connectedness Research Group, won the ‘Research with Impact – Student’ category. This was in recognition of a tool she developed – a Pro-nature Conversation Behaviour Scale - for measuring behaviours that specifically aim to support nature conversation and biodiversity, which has been rapidly adopted by researchers, conservation organisations and government.

The judging panel was clearly impressed, commenting that the submission showed “terrific research impact through influencing public policy and NGOs in their strategic approaches to the complex issue of public engagement in conservation projects, weaving through natural, societal and policy-making fields. An absolutely outstanding project by Lea.”

Commenting on the awards success, Professor Kathryn Mitchell DL, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Derby, said:

The research into Nature Connectedness being undertaken is having a wide-reaching impact on pro-nature behaviours both nationally and internationally. We are therefore delighted that this important work has been recognised with these Green Gown awards.

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