Urban jungles: Human health and the shared imaginaries of urban greenspace

Donnerstag (21. September 2023), 16:30–18:00
HZ 9
Blake Walker (FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg)
Dominik Kremer (FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg)
Research efforts using geographic information systems to untangle the complex relationships between ‘natural’ spaces and human health in urban contexts continue to uncover increasingly nuanced effects. Drawing on the concept of therapeutic spaces, we outline challenges and opportunities for this pursuit, calling for a broader embrace of methodological and epistemological plurality.


‘Natural’ spaces as health-promoting features of the urban landscape continue to garner attention in applied medical and health geography research agendas. A growing literature indicating correlations between green-/bluespaces and individual self-reported health, resilience, and wellbeing recognises the urgent need for methodological plurality and advances in mixed-method approaches combining quantitative/geospatial modelling and qualitative techniques.

As these studies increasingly engage with the subjective nature of the health-environment relation, interdisciplinary efforts amongst researchers explore health, resilience, and wellbeing. Confronting the challenges implicit in epistemologically broadening a traditionally positivistic spatial-epidemiological paradigm poses significant challenges for researchers who are continually developing new evidence of the health-environment relation. The challenge is twofold: (1) Identifying theory-based concept spaces suitable to inform also the geospatial analyses in mixed-method and triangulation approaches, and; (2) identifying geospatial analyses that are scalable, but understandable and transparent enough to be intermixed in specific, ideally different theoretical frameworks. Therapeutic landscapes provide a functional framework that combines common means of epistemological data analysis with humanist geography explaining everyday individual sense-making in geographic environments. In developing a related research agenda, we encourage make-and-break experiments with rapid exploration spikes and post-evaluations to determine the quality of the fit for either (1) or (2). In this discussion, we sketch out the often divergent trajectories of health-greenspace in urban contexts, drawing on a range of case studies across the methodological and thematic spectra.