Published: 10 August 2022 at 11:30
ARU’s Global Sustainability Institute to look at impact of nature on integration
A new study co-led by Dr Davide Natalini of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) is exploring the role of the natural environment in the integration of migrants into UK communities.
The two-year project brings together evidence from previous studies, integration initiatives and creative practice, alongside innovative new place-based research in urban, peri-urban, and rural sites across the UK. It will result in the creation of policy and practice tools that support engagement with the natural environment as a resource for developing inclusive, connected communities.
The Nuffield Foundation, in collaboration with the British Academy, has awarded £1.1 million to six research teams that will inform policy and practice on how communities can improve social well-being across the UK. As part of the Understanding Communities Scheme, £199,350 was awarded to deliver the project, entitled Nature-based integration: Connecting communities with/in the natural environment.
Dr Natalini of Anglia Ruskin University, Kingston School of Art’s Dr Azadeh Fatehrad, and Dr Caitlin Nunn of Manchester Metropolitan University will conduct the study in collaboration with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, and other local and national partners.
Dr Azadeh Fatehrad said the idea for the research had, in part, been inspired by the Covid pandemic and the vital impact green spaces had on her while in partial lockdown. Dr Fatehrad said:
“Collectively, as a nation, we realised during Covid just how important the physical environment around us is to our wellbeing and sense of place.
“We wanted to explore how we can use parks, woodlands and rivers as areas of integration, focusing on the various processes of interaction and adaptation when migrants arrive and begin carving out a new life in a different country.”
“The project is built on our individual strengths, and, most importantly, shared passion to support community development and the natural environment. Our collaboration will yield novel insights on how nature can support integration.”
“It is a powerful resource for migrant integration, with the potential to foster connections to places, practices, and communities. While this is increasingly recognised in research and practice, it is yet to be realised in UK policy.”