PhD project

Educating for sustainability through outdoor learning

On this page
Application deadline

28 February 2023

This research focuses on sustainability as a means of avoiding the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. An understanding of biodiversity [the myriad of organisms and habitats fundamental to sustained functioning of the environment] and our impact on this, is at the heart of sustainability. To place this in context this research adopts an ecosystem services approach to the environment thereby recognising the different services afforded in terms of productivity, ecological support, environmental regulation and cultural services, including human well-being. Education and environmental awareness clearly have a role to play in influencing and directing human activity if impact is to remain sustainable. This research aims to explore the many facts of outdoor learning as a vehicle to development and engage a sense of nature connectiveness and understanding. The context and focus will be through statutory and further/higher education activities, as well as public and family engagement in outdoor initiatives such as citizen science projects, gardening and facilities including botanic and zoological gardens and allotments.

Several personally initiated small and medium scale research initiatives within this arena have been in operations for several years, for example a series of annual pond dipping sessions at the UoD Botanic Garden that contribute data to a longitudinal database exploring the impact of human activity on the water environment within the garden. So too a small-scale exploration of outdoor learning and nature connectiveness with both initial teacher education students and undergraduate environmental science and geography students. This latter research went on to indicate a tentative positive correlation between outdoor learning and nature connectiveness, suggesting further research and application would be beneficial.

At present the holistic research remains fragmented and as lead researcher I’d welcome the opportunity to scale this up and seek external funding to support doctoral and other students. Initially to underpin the empirical research with a review of literature into outdoor and environmental education in relation to sustainability and nature connectiveness. Further to this, broadening the empirical work across the educational arena and seek to identify good practice and impact driven initiatives.

How to apply

  1. Email Dr Liz Lakin to:
    • Send a copy of your CV
    • Discuss your potential application and any practicalities (e.g. suitable start date).
  2. After discussion with Dr Lakin, formal applications can be made via our direct application system.

Apply for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Education.

Apply now


Principal supervisor