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Andy Harrod

Research student

Andy Harrod

Lancaster University

LEC Building



Research Interests

I am a health and wellbeing geography PhD student. My PhD research is focused on exploring the lived experience of participants of nature-based interventions and the influence of attending them on their long-term wellbeing. I am particularly interested in the experiences of young people attending nature-based interventions during emerging adulthood (18-29) and how this period of being, developing and transitioning interacts with the participants' experiences and affects the longevity of any benefits to wellbeing.

Nature-based interventions, also known as green care, are active therapeutic processes for individuals with a specific need, which incorporates nature through regular, structured and facilitated activities with the defined aim of improving participants’ wellbeing. The interventions I am focusing on are: blue and green exercise, environmental conservation programmes, care farming, social and therapeutic horticulture (including gardening programmes) and wilderness therapy (also known as adventure therapy).

Numerous studies demonstrate the benefits of these facilitated activities in nature on improving a person’s wellbeing at the time of the programme. However, the extent of the longevity of these benefits to an individual’s wellbeing are still to be established, as well as how people integrate any benefits into their life, including what factors support this assimilation and what difficulties people experience in maintaining positive changes.

My research is with people who attended a nature-based intervention at least five years ago and explores with them how they related to the different aspects of these complex and dynamic programmes, including the other-than-human nature, the activities, the social encounters, the facilitators and fellow participants, and how these engagements have influenced their wellbeing over their life course. I am interested in the understanding how people’s lived experience of nature-based interventions interacts with their past experiences and everyday circumstances, including the cultural, social, material and spatial aspects. Specifically, the effect of these interactions on the longevity of any improvements to wellbeing and a person’s sense of wellbeing.

I am interested in the use of qualitative methods, particularly in-depth and creative methods to sensitively explore with people their experiences and the meanings they ascribe to them. During my research I aim to work with the experiences and voices of marginalised people to develop our understanding of how nature-based interventions are engaged with and how people’s experiences influence their long-term wellbeing.

I am also interested in the emotional geography of adverse life events, particularly around loss and grief and how encounters in nature impacts on the processing of these experiences. As well as how these lived experiences affect the co-construction of (un)therapeutic landscapes. A reflection on my own experience of grief and my encounters within a moorland landscape can be read or listened to at Sensing Nature, as part of Unlocking Landscapes.

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