Episode 1: Finding Freedom in a Pandemic?

Last changed: 19 April 2021
Episode 1

Environmental psychologist, Professor Birgitta Gatersleben shares her current research into people and nature engagement during Covid-19 in the UK, hopes for the future in sustainability and wellbeing policy and planning of accessible green health infrastructure.

This episode is the first in a series about how green and natural spaces support resilient societies. We explore the value of green spaces and nature by understanding how they have been interacted with during the pandemic. We discuss the perceived value of outdoor spaces for health more broadly, whether this is changing and what this means for society and wellbeing. We apply an environmental psychology perspective to understand these issues and what action can be taken by talking to researchers and activists in the relevant fields. 

In this episode, Hannah Arnett is in conversation with Professor Birgitta Gatersleben who has been leading research with Natural England at the University of Surrey on people and nature engagement in Covid-19 to explore the evolving value of nature during the pandemic.

The global pandemic has generated restrictions on our freedom of movement in public spaces. Green spaces and nature have become one of the few places where we are able to experience freedom and have been prioritised as a necessity through lockdowns to access for mental and physical health. The restrictions on freedom of movement has exposed the inequalities in access of green spaces and the lack of health equity that exists in green infrastructure. The recovery from a global pandemic now provides a platform for ideas and solutions that can build a better world, as the UN calls for, and within the UK, a path towards a green recovery.

This podcast explores:

  • The evidence for how and why people are interacting with nature during a pandemic and the implications for an evolving theoretical understanding within the context of environmental psychology
  • Individual differences related to supportive nature engagement activities and implications for accessibility and addressing inequalities
  • And finally, how our behaviours during the pandemic could be shaping a path to a sustainable future

Please note the audio quality differs in some places.

We hope you enjoy exploring topics with us!

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You can access a glossary with key terms and references here.

  • Presenter and co-producer: Hannah Arnett
  • Peer review and co-producer: Amanda Gabriel​
  • Music: Rose Alexander-George. Song: Dream wave
  • Artwork: Sanna Rocío Arevalo. Title: Freedom, "Perennial thriving relies on the random superposition of colourful moments". Digital canvas composition; meditative mandala. Date of creation: March 2021