2022 Seminars

December 14th - Dr Sioned Williams

Energised Welsh communities: making connections between place and Community Renewable Energy

The presentation focuses on the findings of a PhD study centred on identifying what are the roles and meanings of community and place attachment for Welsh communities within a community renewable energy (CRE) context, in these often place-based projects. This was across a range of four case studies and a consortium in North and South Wales. The study details the contextual setting for the renewable energy projects across the case studies, identifying the relationship between communities, their landscape and renewable energy. The study explored a range of perspectives on the meanings, experiences and representations of ‘community’ and ‘place’, including different forms of place attachment. The findings importantly highlighted how place attachment was the context for, but also shaped the engagement of communities with CRE projects. This included how natural resources were utilised over time in post-industrial communities.

November 9th - Dr Kate Sherren

Climax thinking and landscape transitions for sustainability

Climax thinking is a metaphor for resistance to public good landscape change that emerged from place-based research in Atlantic Canada. As in succession theory in ecology, we often believe our landscapes are in their ideal or equilibrium state (i.e. their climax), one that should be returned to after disturbance such as natural disasters. We need to shift to a non-equilibrium way of thinking about landscape given the sustainability challenges we face and their potential landscape implications. This presentation shares case work about wind energy installation, coastal retreat and flood risk mapping to move from the outcome level (resistance) to the process level (causes) of this novel idea, and the implications for research and practice.

October 12th - Richard Dallison

Small hydropower in the UK and Ireland: The impact of future climate change on water availability and power generation

Small-scale run-of-river hydropower is a growing sector in the UK and Ireland which plays a small but important role in decarbonising the grid, contributing to national emissions reduction targets, and providing local community benefit. However, future climate change threatens to alter streamflow volumes and timing, impacting the amount of water available for use by such schemes, and therefore their power generation potential. In addition, England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Ireland all have different rules for the amount of water that can be taken from a river for hydropower. These differences in national regulation further impact the timing and quantity of power generation and will likely lead to variation in how schemes in different nations experience the impacts of climate change.

July 13th - Dr Kristin Stock and Johanna Richardson

Sense of Place in New Zealand: Favourite Places, Attractive Places and Cultural Perspectives of Place

The protection and preservation of favourite places are important for the mental and personal well-being of people. Therefore, places of significant cultural, spiritual and personal value are held in high regard by stakeholders in government, urban planning and environmental management. Studies show people often feel attached to places, using common natural areas like parks and forests for restorative retreat, reflecting on their positive and negative emotions, thoughts, moods, life, purpose, existence and the self. In this presentation, we begin by firstly addressing key questions of what constitutes a favourite place. Where are favourite places? What do people value about favourite places? What activities do people engage in while at favourite places? Secondly, we will discuss how favourite places were found in New Zealand. And thirdly, we will discuss the results of our online survey revealing people’s favourite places by location, region, activity, who they were with, what the place looked like, their thoughts, memories, and stories. We will also discuss several other projects relating to place in New Zealand, including the use of content extracted from social media (Flickr) to evaluate attractiveness of locations around New Zealand; notions of cultural place-meaning among New Zealand Māori using text extraction and the ways which Māori place-names reveal sense of place across the North and South Islands of New Zealand. 

June 8th at 12.10pm - Prof. Nicola Walshe

Eco-Capabilities: exploring pedagogies at the intersection of nature, the arts and wellbeing

Eco-Capabilities is an AHRC-funded project situated at the intersection of three issues: a concern with children’s wellbeing; their apparent disconnect with the natural environment; and a lack of engagement with the arts in school curricula. It builds on Amartya Sen’s work on human capabilities as a proxy for wellbeing, developing the term eco-capabilities to describe how children define what they feel they need to live a fully good human life through environmental sustainability, social justice and future economic wellbeing. Through Eco-Capabilities, primary school children from two schools participated in eight full days of arts-in-nature practice, described as artscaping. The study drew on arts-based research methodologies, participatory observations, interviews and focus groups with artists, teachers and children. Findings suggest key elements of arts-in-nature practice contributing to the development of children’s eco-capabilities comprisedextended and repeated arts-in-nature sessions; embodiment and engaging children affectively through the senses; slowliness which envelopes children with time and space to (re)connect; and thoughtful practice which facilitates emotional expression. Within this seminar, I will explore how through these elements, arts-in-nature practice supports children’s wellbeing, and guides them towards a more entangled relationship with nature and a clearer understanding of themselves as part of it, thereby motivating them to take better care of it. 

May 11th at 12.10pm - Dr Elizabeth A.C. Rushton

Education for environmental sustainability and the emotions: exploring the potential of the school site as a place for emotionally responsive pedagogies

Increasing attention is being paid to the emotions in education and communication about the climate crisis and other sustainability challenges.  This has tended to focus on the relationship between emotions and environmental perceptions and behaviours. In this seminar, I draw on data from teachers, teacher educators and young people from two research projects based in the UK and Europe to explore educationally-relevant emotions, and identify the implications for educational practice.  In these examples participants drew on their local contexts, including schools, as places of action in relation to climate change and sustainability. Findings from this work suggests that emotionally-responsive pedagogies are needed to identify responsibilities, develop coping potential and improve future expectations.  These pedagogies must act on the causes and consequences of environmental damage and develop teachers’ and students’ capabilities to take action and ultimately transform emotional appraisals. 

Biography - Elizabeth A.C. Rushton

Elizabeth A.C. Rushton is an Associate Professor of Education at University College London Institute of Education where she leads the MA in Education programme. Prior to her current role, Elizabeth has held roles as a university-based geography teacher educator (King’s College London) and secondary school geography teacher. Her research interests include science and geography education, and teacher professional development and her research has been funded by the Economics and Social Research Council, Leverhulme and the British Educational Research Association.  Elizabeth is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and is a member of the Geography and Education Research Group, serving on the committee. As a co-founder and Managing Editor of Routes – The Journal for Student Geography since 2020, Elizabeth has overseen the publication of over fifty research articles and supported a peer reviewer team of over 200 geography teachers and academics

April 27th 2022 - Dr Dana Brablecova

Urbanisation of Indigenous identities or indigenisation of the city? Reflections on the Mapuche case in Santiago de Chile.  

This presentation explores the dynamics of space appropriation and resignification by Indigenous groups in cities. The research is sheltered by the operationalisation of Indigenous spatial praxis from the margins of the White-mestizo city, suggesting the (re)emergence of new forms of relational urbanism that presage pluriverse socio-political futures for those “urban Indigenous”, thus overcoming the mestizo normativity of cities in the Global South. In more detail, and drawing on empirical information collected through ethnographic fieldwork, the seminar examines three approaches followed by Mapuche groups to create a sense of belonging in the concrete jungle: the production of their own Indigenous places, the use of Indigenous symbols in strategic locations and moments, and the conquest of previously denied political spaces. In this way, the Mapuche are giving new meanings to their identity and to the cities they inhabit while configuring the conception of belonging to what constitutes or not the current Indigenous territory.  

Biography - Dr Dana Brablec

Dr Dana Brablec is a Postdoctoral Research Officer at the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research and Data - Bangor University. She holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Cambridge (2020), where she explored Indigenous urbanisation in Santiago de Chile and the state’s role in this process. The results of her research have been published in the Bulletin of Latin American Research, Sociology, and the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. She is also an Affiliated Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Studies and Bye-Fellow in Sociology at the University of Cambridge. 

February 9th - Dr Sophie Wynne-Jones

'Rewilding: restoring environments, threatening place?'

Rewilding is increasing being promoted as a means to address the interconnected crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. However, from a social perspective, it can be controversial with concerns over the changes to place that could ensue. Experiences in Wales, in particular, demonstrate the strength of opposition felt in some communities. In this talk, I will discuss insights from research conducted with stakeholders in Wales over the last 15 years, centring on the experiences of the Cambrian Wildwood and Summit to Sea projects in Mid-Wales. I will explore the role of place attachment and our associated sense of identity in rewilding conflict, alongside the importance of local values and ways of knowing. Overall, the talk will reflect on the balance between meeting environmental objectives and attending to socio-cultural priorities.