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What are the benefits of human-nature connections?

How does human use, behavior, and experience influence built and natural environments?

How do communities and individuals plan for and respond to environmental change?

Human population growth, uncertain environmental conditions, and shifting development patterns all challenge conventional ways of thinking about and managing parks, recreation, and tourism. Making advances toward sustainability will require questioning existing practices and developing new models and approaches. The mission of the Human Dimensions of the Built & Natural Environment research circle is to generate and communicate science that builds human capacity for stewardship, fosters sustainable natural resources and communities, and supports opportunities for outdoor recreation and tourism.

Collectively, our work demonstrates the need for and value of diverse environmental social science research in order to transform knowledge, practice, and policy. We share an approach to research that is driven by a desire to understand and untangle deep connections between environment and society.  We recognize political, economic, social, and cultural institutions as active players in both how experiences with nature affect individuals and, in turn, how individuals affect nature.

Our goals are to improve integration across social and biophysical sciences, respond to policy needs, and improve real-world conditions as they relate to parks, recreation and tourism management. Graduate students and faculty collectively decide how to best use research circle meetings to advance our mission. Examples of this effort include conducting collaborative research resulting in peer-reviewed publications, discussing books that advance key ideas that unite our research, and providing constructive feedback on our colleagues’ work as it develops.

Why does it matter?

Our scholarship has real-world impacts as we…

  • Enhance conservation through park, recreation, and tourism opportunities.
  • Develop tools and build capacity for conservation management
  • Inform efforts to improve resource equity and environmental justice.
  • Uncover factors that shape how youth experience and learn about their environment, empowering students to affect change.
  • Collaborate with other scientists, managers, and the general public to foster sustainability and resilience.

Learn more about Human Dimensions Research

Graduate Faculty Engaged in Research in this Area

Bethany Cutts, Lincoln LarsonJerry LeeYu-Fai LeungErin Seekamp, Kathryn Stevenson, Jelena Vukomanovic