Feeling Good, Naturally

Nature Connection and Subjective Wellbeing: Applying creative mixed-methods techniques to understand nature-determinants of subjective wellbeing

Degree type

PhD

Closing date

10 October 2022

Campus

Hobart

Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International

About the research project

Feeling a connection with nature has widespread positive health and wellbeing outcomes. People who score highly in nature connectedness also tend to score highly on measures of eudemonic wellbeing (personal growth, autonomy, purpose in life, environmental mastery, self-acceptance, positive relations to others and vitality), suggesting that they are flourishing and performing well psychologically, happier (positive affect) and are more satisfied with life.  However, nature connection is adversely impacted by issues of access, engagement and exposure. Changing environments and human populations are leading to the distancing of people from nature, and altered people-species interactions. Nature engagement can even sometimes lead to disillusionment, despair and hopelessness.

Little is known about the nuances of how connecting with nature can impact on individual attitudes, behaviours and wellbeing and the structural changes that lead to maximising the wellbeing benefits.

This is a convergent mixed-methods study blending quantitative survey data with qualitative storytelling. The qualitative, place-based component uses will apply participatory research principles and creative storytelling methods and textual analysis techniques to improve our understandings of how people connect with nature, and the benefits to humans and environment. The quantitative component uses local and national surveys to understand variation in nature connection and wellbeing. Situated in the National Environmental Science Program (NESP), the project will involve working alongside NESP community partners, such as Landcare and Conservation Volunteers Australia. Participants from diverse backgrounds, with diverse health needs, socio-economic status, literacy, gender etc will be invited to document their experiences of connecting with nature and associated benefits using written, oral and visual methods. A story repository will form the basis of content for in-depth textual analysis, and the co-construction of guidelines and tools to increase nature connection for wellbeing.

We invite applicants from diverse disciplinary and socio-cultural backgrounds to apply.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Emily Flies

Funding

Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,854 per annum (2022 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.

Eligibility

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Prior research experience (e.g. an honours or masters degree or work-related research experience) is essential, with relevant qualitative and quantitative experience ideal

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • This project will be of interest to someone with an arts, humanities, health and/or environmental studies background. Someone familiar with mixed methods approaches and with relevant research experience would be most competitive

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Emily Flies to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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