Nature, policy and sustainable wellbeing

Translating evidence on nature connection to inform effective policies and programs for sustainable wellbeing in Australia

Degree type


Closing date

25 September 2023



Citizenship requirement

Domestic / International

About the research project

Nature connectedness is positively correlated with a sense of wellbeing. It has been correlated with indicators of life satisfaction such as personal growth, autonomy, purpose in life, environmental mastery, self-acceptance, positive relations to others and vitality. Connecting with nature is often also correlated with behaviours and actions that benefit the environment (‘pro-environmental behaviours’) such as volunteering for conservation groups or supporting environmental policies.

Australian studies have documented these correlations but less is known about how they vary in different settings across the country. Empirical application of these insights is in its infancy, and questions exist about how we can better reflect evidence of nature-wellbeing connections in education systems and environmental and health policies.

On that basis, five questions guide this research project:

  • How do people experience nature connection i n Australia and how do its benefits for wellbeing and pro-environmental behaviours vary across geographies and demographies in Australia?
  • How does engaging in nature-connecting programs, such as conservation or restoration activities, impact to participant and environmental wellbeing?
  • How are nature’s benefits for wellbeing currently incorporated into health and wellbeing policy in Tasmania, Australia and beyond?
  • How can we better incorporate this evidence into policies across scales to support sustainable wellbeing and ‘one health’ in Australia?
  • How can we effectively educate about nature’s benefits to support more sustainable behaviours and communities?

To address  these questions, this project will use publicly-available and national survey data created through the Sustainable Communities and Waste Hub.

Situated in the National Environmental Science Program (NESP), the project will involve working alongside NESP community partners, such as Landcare and Conservation Volunteers Australia.

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

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Emily Files


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 $31,500 per annum (2023 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.

Other funding opportunities and fees

For further information regarding other scholarships on offer, and the various fees of undertaking a research degree, please visit our Scholarships and fees on research degrees page.


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

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 such as an honours or master’s degree or work-related research experience

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • This project will be of interest to someone with a geography, health and/or environmental studies background
  • Most competitive would be someone with research/publications in human-nature connection and/or wellbeing, work experience with health or environmental policy creation/implementation and familiar with mixed methods approaches

Application process

Preferred applicants have already been identified for this project. If you are interested in discussing other opportunities for future research, please contact Emily Flies.

Full details of the application process can be found under the 'How to apply' section of the Research Degrees website.

Following the 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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