2012-2016, BA Environmental Art Design, Hubei Institute of Fine Arts
2016-2017, MA Landscapes Studies, The University of Sheffield
I am interested in how natural environment can encourage healthy ageing. My research is primarily focused in China. My previous research as a master’s student focused on inter-generational perceptions of Chinese children’s contact with nature and use of urban green spaces.
How nature contributes to an age-friendly community to encourage healthy ageing: Using behaviour maps and go-along interview methods
My research interests focus around the ways in which different people experience, interact with, understand and represent landscape, and especially wild or natural-looking vegetation; and the desire to see a more holistic and environmentally friendly approach to planning and designing urban greenspace and green structure. My aim is often to challenge professional ideas about what might be publicly acceptable, and to test/explore established theoretical frameworks from different academic disciplines that are relevant to my field of enquiry (such as environmental psychology, social anthropology and cultural geography).
Older people are especially susceptible to their physical and social environment. Both are key features of an age-friendly community that supports older people with healthy ageing. An age friendly community requires a close person-environment fit to cohere older people’s individual needs, physical environmental conditions and social environmental conditions. As a part of physical environment natural environments are known to be beneficial for older people. They influence older people’s activities of daily life, health status and wellbeing. Evidence denotes that the benefits of contact with natural environment include the restorative effects, the facilitation of social contacts and opportunities for physical activity.
This study aims to explore which aspects of the natural environment influences Chinese older people’s health and wellbeing and how natural environments could improve socio-environmental conditions for the elderly and contribute to health and social care in an age friendly community.
China has a truly different social, economic and cultural context for ageing compared with Europe and North America. Chinese older people’s perceptions of their community and their needs from physical environment and social environment are likely to differ from these countries. At the very least research findings and good practice from these countries cannot be applied uncritically in a Chinese context. The ways in which the natural environment matters for older people and the role of natural environments in age friendly community need to be further studied in Chinese context.
This study will use qualitative methods to explore older people’s perceptions of the role of nature in their social and physical surroundings. It draws on a combination of behavioural mapping and go-along interviews to understand more about the role of natural environments (e.g. parks, community gardens) in two different communities with similar size, density, but different in natural environments in Beijing, China to reveal older people’s behaviour and experiences in natural environments in their local residential context. The go-along qualitative interviews focus on understanding the research participant’s point of view, to explore how they use and what they need from natural environment. As a part of Ph.D. research, this paper will outline the theoretical framework, research design and methods to be used in the study, how it builds on existing research and exploring the particular demands of doing this research in a Chinese context.
The expected findings will help generate insights into Chinese older people’s relationship with the natural environment, and urban environments can be improved to meet their needs. They will also have implications for how communities deliver services to older people and how the natural environment contributes to building age friendly community to promote older people’s healthy ageing.