Dr Nicola Walshe

Head of School for Education and Social Care

Faculty:Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care

School:Education and Social Care

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Education and teaching

Research Supervision:Yes

Nicola is an experienced educator and teacher educator in both secondary and higher education settings. She has a particular interest in geographical and environmental and sustainability education.


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Having gained a PhD in glaciology, Nicola worked briefly as an IT consultant before training as a geography teacher and going on to become Head of Department in three comprehensive schools. She then joined the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Education where she worked for ten years in Initial Teacher Education, ultimately leading the Secondary Geography PGCE course. Nicola moved to ARU to lead the BA (Hons) Primary Education Studies programme, but has since progressed to take on the role of Deputy Head and most recently Head of the School of Education and Social Care.

Research interests

  • Environmental and Sustainability Education (ESE)
  • Arts-based pedagogies for ESEs
  • Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in Education
  • Nature-based pedagogies in nature for supporting children's wellbeing and capabilities
  • The use of 360 degree video to support teacher development
  • Geography Education

Nicola is interested in environmental and sustainability education research, particularly children’s understandings of sustainability, the pedagogy of environmental and sustainability education, and the intersection of the arts, nature and wellbeing, particularly with reference to children. She is currently leading the AHRC-funded project, Eco-Capabilities, which aims to explore how the wellbeing of children living in areas of high deprivation can be supported through working with artists in familiar outdoor places that they find difficult to engage with. Nicola is also involved in research exploring how immersive technologies, such as 360-degree video, can be used to support teacher and trainee teacher practice.

Areas of research supervision

Nicola would welcome contact from prospective doctoral candidates (PhD and EdD) in the following areas:

  • Environmental and sustainability education (both within and beyond the school context, across all phases)
  • The role of creativity and the arts in environment and sustainability education
  • Pedagogy, curriculum and understanding in geography education
  • Pedagogy and learning in school contexts


  • Nicola teaches on the BA in Primary Education Studies in Cambridge. She also teaches on qualitative methods within the doctoral school.


  • PhD, University of Leeds
  • MEd, University of Cambridge
  • PGCE, University of Cambridge
  • BSc (Hons) Geography and Geology, University of Durham
  • National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH), Eastern Leadership Centre
  • Senior fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Secretary of GEReCo (Geography Education Research Collective)
  • Co-Convenor of the ESER (Environmental and Sustainability Education Research) Network of EERA (European Educational Research Association)
  • Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geography
  • GA (Geographical Association)
  • BERA (British Educational Research Association)
  • Research of International Geographical Education Online (RIGEO: reviewer and on the Editorial Board)
  • Environmental Education Research (journal reviewer)

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

2019 - AHRC Research Grant (£252,887) Principal Investigator for the project: ECO-CAPABILITIES: Supporting Children's wellbeing through participatory art in nature. AH/S006206/1.

2018 - Anglia Learning and Teaching Project Award (£3500) Principal Investigator for the project: Using 360-degree video to develop student teacher pedagogical content knowledge.

2017 - ARU Course Leader Grant (£750) and Global Sustainability Institute ‘Be the Change’ Grant (£1000) Principal Investigator for the project: Making Connections: Environmental and Sustainability Education Conference.

2015 - Award of ArcGIS Online licenses for 23 partnership schools (match funding equivalent of £2875) Principal Investigator for the project: ‘Developing trainee teacher practice with GIS’.

2011 - Global Thinking Grant of £1500 from the Government’s Department for International Development (DFID) Principal Investigator for the project: 'Understanding and developing student conceptions of sustainable development'.

Selected recent publications

Walshe, N., Lee, E., Lloyd, D., & Sapsed, R. (2020). STEM to STEAM as an approach to human development: the potential of arts practices for supporting wellbeing. In: Burnard, P. & L. Colucci-Gray (Eds) Why Science and Art Creativities Matter: STEAM (re-) Configurings for Future-Making Education

Walshe, N. & Tait, V. (2019). Making Connections: A conference approach to developing transformative environmental and sustainability education within initial teacher education. Environmental Education Research. https://doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2019.1677858 

Healy, G. & Walshe, N. (2019). Real-world geographers and geography students using GIS: relevance, everyday applications and the development of geographical knowledge. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10382046.2019.1661125

Walshe, N., Lee, E., & Smith, M. (2019). Supporting Children’s Wellbeing with Art in Nature: Artist Pedagogue Perceptions. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development.

Lee, E, Walshe, N., Sapsed R., & Holland, J. (2018). Artists as emplaced pedagogues: how does thinking about children's nature relations influence pedagogy? In A. Cutter-Mackenzie, K. Malone and E. Barratt Hacking (Eds) Springer International Handbooks of Education. Research Handbook on ChildhoodNature: Assemblages of Childhood and Nature Research. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-51949-4_78-1. https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007/978-3-319-51949-4_78-1

Walshe, N. & Driver, P. (2018). Developing reflective trainee teacher practice with 360-degree video. Teaching and Teacher Education. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2018.11.009 

Walshe, N. (2017). Developing Trainee Teacher Practice with Geographical Information Systems (GIS). Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 41(4), 608-628. doi: 10.1080/03098265.2017.1331209. 

Walshe, N. (2017). An interdisciplinary approach to environmental and sustainability education: developing geography students’ understandings of sustainable development using poetry. Environmental Education Research, 23(8), 1130-1149. doi: 10.1080/13504622.2016.1221887.


Recent presentations and conferences

Walshe, N. (2019). Supporting Children’s Wellbeing Through Participatory Art In Nature: The Potential Of Eco-capabilities For Wellbeing. European Educational Research Association: European Conference of Educational Research- EERA:ECER (Hamburg, Germany, 3-6 September, 2019).

Walshe, N. (2019). Developing Trainee Teacher Understanding Of Pedagogical Content Knowledge Using 360-Degree Video And An Interactive Digital Overlay. European Educational Research Association: European Conference of Educational Research- EERA:ECER (Hamburg, Germany, 3-6 September, 2019).

Walshe, N. (2019). Recontextualisation, geography and lesson planning: how does geography teacher education support a subject pedagogical approach to trainee practice? IGU-CGE Symposium (London).

Walshe, N. (2018). Making Connections: Developing undergraduate trainee teachers’ understandings of ESE through conference. European Educational Research Association European Conference for Educational Research - EERA:ECER (Bolzano, Italy).

Walshe, N. (2018). Developing reflective trainee teacher practice with 360-degree video. European Educational Research Association European Conference for Educational Research - EERA:ECER (Bolzano, Italy).

Walshe, N. (2018). Developing geography trainee teacher practice with 360-degree video. IGU-CGE Symposium (Canada). 

Walshe, N. (2018). Developing reflective trainee teacher practice with 360-degree video. Geography Teacher Educator Conference (Birmingham).

Walshe, N. (2017). School students’ perceptions of the value and nature of GIS: informing curriculum development and pedagogical practice. IGU-CGE Symposium (Lisbon).