Well-being and Self-transformation in Natural Landscapes
Palgrave Macmillan/ Springer Nature
Out October 2018
Welcome to Sharing Natural Scotland – a website where I write about my research with groups of people in rural ‘natural’ landscapes in Scotland and what I find out. My research is always based on three things: The self, the group and the environment, and how they interact with one another.
Why is Scotland relevant?
Notions of ‘nature as transformative, or inherently good for the human condition, are not a contemporary phenomenon. Though, it is still an area that researchers are aiming to comprehend.
The Scottish ‘natural’ landscape has been celebrated and represented as transformative for hundreds of years – From the philosophy of Scottish Common Sense Realism in the 18th century, influencing Transcendentalism around the world, the ‘ancient’ Celtic Ossian transcriptions of James Macpherson (and the controversy surrounding them) and of course the metaphysical aesthetic of the ‘sublime’ in nature through Scottish Romanticism in the 19th century as well as the writings of Nan Shepherd among the Cairngorms during WW2 – The Scottish ‘natural’ landscape and it’s representations have been at the fore of a history of human engagements in nature and the comprehension of these experiences. This was furthered by the work of John Muir (John of the Mountains), an East Lothian man, in the late 19th and early 20th Century. He firmly placed Scotland’s natural landscapes on the world map in relation to the positive worth of nature engagements by taking his vision, philosophy, activism and conservation of Wilderness to America.
Why are activities in ‘nature’ deemed to be positively transformative?
Nature and ‘natural’ or ‘wild’ spaces outside of urban environments are no longer considered a threat. Instead ‘natural’ spaces are considered to offer a sense of well being, insight and self-efficacy. The ‘natural’ landscape of Scotland is an iconic one and alongside the Land Reform Act and the ‘right to roam’ these spaces, it is an ideal landscape to explore the culture: nature dualism and why ‘nature’ engagement is considered and experienced as positive.
I see Scotland at the forefront of the nature and well-being movement and I believe that my research in Scotland has come a long way in understanding the human motivation to engage in these landscapes and the phenomenological experience of doing so. Around the world researchers are tackling these themes. The Scottish rural landscape and those who engage with these spaces for the sake of positive transformation, as a case study, is a significant one.
I am interested in this personal transformation, the self, group dynamics, the non-human as social, liminality, anthropocentrism and ecocentrism (and the complexities of these terms), belonging and mental well-being – all in relation to the rural landscape in Scotland.
For my PhD research findings, have a look at ‘Research.’ Here you will also find details of all of my research outputs since 2014. For all current, upcoming and continuing research and collaborative projects see ‘New Research and Collaborations.’ If you want to know more about me check out ‘About Me’ and if you would like to get in touch, please just drop me a line at my email address that you can find under ‘Contact Me.’
I intend this site to be simple to navigate and to share all of my work, projects, seminars, workshops and papers with anyone interested. I am always open to new ideas, new projects, new learning and collaboration so please do get in touch!