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Researching sustainability using our campus

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One of the easiest and most effective ways of building sustainability into your studies at the University of Leeds is through your dissertation or other research projects.  The campus itself is a perfect environment to carry out lots of different types of research, including through our Living Lab programme which includes spaces such as the Roger Stevens pond.

School of Psychology student Chloe Thompson is doing just this, using outdoor spaces on campus to investigate how these spaces make people feel, and which provide a sense of belonging.  Read on to find out more about her research and, more importantly, how you can take part.


Sense of Belonging in Green Spaces on the University of Leeds Campus

There is no shortage of research demonstrating the benefits that green spaces can have on wellbeing.

As well as more general effects on wellbeing, green spaces have been found to impact upon place attachment – and sense of belonging. Some green spaces may have more of an effect than others, though research suggests that all green spaces are worth investing in.

There is a compelling argument for the inclusion of green spaces in the world around us, an important point to bear in mind for spaces deliberately designed by human hands, such as the university campus.

Over the last two years, the pandemic has had a serious negative impact on mental health and wellbeing, with staff and students alike reporting declines in their wellbeing. In addition to the direct impact that COVID has had on wellbeing, it also forced many into remote working, with a more blended approach now becoming the norm.

Because of the combined impact on wellbeing and time spent at the University of Leeds, fostering a strong sense of belonging on campus is perhaps more salient than ever. Understanding the way spaces on campus interact with the people who use them, how they make them feel, and which features in the environment are perceived as the most important is vital.

My final year major project aims to address these concerns by investigating how different outdoor spaces on campus make people feel, and which of these outdoor spaces, if any, foster the strongest sense of belonging for staff and students alike.

Research data will be collected from participants spending time in a variety of outdoor spaces across campus – St George’s Field, the Sustainable Garden, the Roger Stevens Pond, and the steps outside the Parkinson Library. These spaces all serve as seating areas, but vary in their features – including large, old trees, lawn, newer planting arrangements, water features, and in the case of Parkinson Steps, no green space.

You can take part by going to one of the four locations (St George’s Field, the Sustainable Garden, the Roger Stevens Pond, or the steps outside the Parkinson Library), and scanning the QR codes on the research posters in these areas for more information on participation and a link to the survey.


Interested in undertaking your own sustainability research? You can find some ideas for project topics here. You can also check out last year's Student Sustainability Research Conference submissions here.

For details on how to share your research at the 2022 Student Sustainability Research Conference make sure you're signed up to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.