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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Health in Social Science : School of Health in Social Science

Undergraduate Course: Nature, Greenspace and Health (SHSS10010)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Health in Social Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryHow does access to nature and to greenspaces impact on human health? This course will take a living labs approach to studying the ways in which gardens, parks, flora, fauna, and biodiversity more generally may impact on the health of humans and human communities. We will use a social justice lens in our study, examining how access and engagement with nature and the outdoors is unequally distributed within communities and how environmental injustice may contribute to the observed correlation between social inequality and health inequality.
Course description Each year, students on the course will be presented with a real-world problem to work on in the local area. In 2018-2019, the topic explored was be how biodiversity impacts on human health in relation to University of Edinburgh greenspaces.

The course will meet twice a week over the ten weeks of teaching. The first meeting of the week will be delivered seminar-style in a classroom. The second meeting will be longer (2 hours) and will involve a range of activities from group work to site visits and fieldwork. Any costs involved in fieldtrips, such as public transit fares, will need to be covered by students.

During the first week of class, you will be briefed on the issue to be addressed. You will be supported in developing a learning plan for yourself and a collective learning plan with your classmates, which will provide the roadmap for the work that you undertake to prepare yourselves for and implement a strategy for investigating the problem and proposing potential ways to address it. During the last week of class, you will present your findings and your proposed interventions to relevant community members. The final report will be due during the exam period.

The course will be student-led, meaning that you will collectively set the direction of study and research, with the course organiser and associated staff providing support and acting as resources for learning. Group work will play a significant part in your learning and assessment. Two of the learning outcomes concern your ability to work in a group context. Support and resources will be provided throughout the course to enable you to develop and hone your group-work skills.
You will be assessed both individually and as a group. Individually, your attendance, participation and awareness and evidence of how you worked in and contributed to the group and to group assessments will be assessed. Collectively, as a group you will be assessed on your ability to identify, define, conceptualise and analyse a real world problem and execute a defined project of research to address that problem. You will also be assessed collectively on your abilities to present your findings to an informed audience.

This course will provide you with the opportunity to further your academic learning, your critical thinking skills and your employability, it will also enable you to make a positive difference in your local community and in the world right now.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs This course will involve fieldwork and site visits. Students will be required to provide their own transportation within Edinburgh and immediate environs, this could entail for example, public transportation costs.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  25
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 30, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) As a group, you will work on addressing the problem brought to the class by the community organisation, preparing a presentation and report for them. The group presentation and report will be assessed and this will form 10% and 30% of your grade respectively.

Individually, you will be assessed on your contribution to the group work through attendance at scheduled seminars and group/fieldwork sessions (10%), through peer assessment of your contribution (10%) and through a portfolio of your work including annotated bibliography and personal reflections (max. 4000 words, 40%).
Feedback Formative Assessment and Feedback
Students will design individual learning plans in the initial week of semester. As a group, students will use their individual plans to collectively and collaboratively design a learning plan for the group. The course organiser will provide feedback on these individual plans and will facilitate the design of the group learning plan, providing feedback throughout the process in terms of how well matched the learning plan is to the real-world problem the class is addressing.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Work with others in ways aimed at bringing about change, development and/or new thinking at the intersection of nature, the environment and human health.
  2. Apply knowledge, skills and understanding in executing a defined project of learning, research, development or investigation and in identifying and implementing relevant outcomes at the local level in relation to nature, the environment and human health.
  3. Critically identify, define, conceptualise and analyse complex/professional problems and issues.
  4. Practice in ways that show awareness of own and others, roles and responsibilities.
  5. Present or convey, formally and informally, information about specialised topics to informed audiences.
Reading List
Ecohealth Research in Practice: Innovative applications of an ecosystem approach to health, (2012), IDRC: Ottawa.

Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind, 2009, Sierra Club Books: San Francisco.

Environmental Education for Empowerment: Action Research and Community Problem Solving, William B Stapp, Arjen E.J. Wals, Sheri L. Stankorb (1996), Green: Michigan.

People and Permaculture: caring and designing for ourselves, each other and the planet. Looby Macnamara, (2012), Permanent Publications: Hampshire.

Health: An Ecosystem Approach, Jean Lebel (2003), International Development Research Centre: Ottawa, Canada.

The Handbook of Sustainability Literacy: Skills for a changing world, edited Arran Stibbe (2014) Green Books: Cambridge

An Introduction to the Geography of Health, Peter Anthamatten and Helen Hazen (2011), Routledge

Environmental Justice: concepts, evidence and politics, Gordon Walker (2012) Routledge
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Curiosity for learning that makes a positive difference:
Through engaging with a real world problem
Through seeing how their studies actually apply to a real world problem
Through student-led learning they will develop the capacity to plan their own learning

Passion to engage locally and globally:
Through action research with the local community

Creative problem solvers and researchers:
Through a problem-based learning approach

Critical and reflective thinkers:
Through reflecting on their learning journey and learning plan over the course

Effective and influential contributors:
Through real world problem-based learning
KeywordsEducation for sustainable development,health,environment,ecosystems,community engagement
Course organiserDr Alette Willis
Tel: (0131 6)50 3881
Course secretaryMiss Morven Sutherland
Tel: (0131 6)51 3972
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