UCL Department of Geography


Dr Russell Hitchings' new book - The Unsettling Outdoors

1 October 2021

Congratulations to Professor Russell Hitchings whose new book, The Unsettling Outdoors: Environmental Estrangement in Everyday Life, was recently published by Wiley as part of the RGS-IBG Book Series.

Unsettling Outdoors

The book draws on a series of in-depth studies to consider how, in the course of everyday life, people can be drawn away from greenspace experiences that are often good for them.

Professor Hitchings, Associate Professor of Human Geography, has been developing this line of research over several years, with a long-standing connection to Geography at UCL.

He explains: “When I first did my MSc here at UCL I became fascinated by how people relate to ‘nearby nature’ in domestic gardens. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to develop this focus through a variety of connected projects.

"I’ve now done studies on why people run on treadmills indoors, what it’s like to be an air-conditioned office worker, and even how people handle the absence of showers at summer music festivals”.

“I've always instinctively felt that greenspaces can be beneficial places to be, and research suggests that is the case. What my book hopes to add is an appreciation of how people can settle into patterns in everyday life that could stop them from receiving these benefits.

"It was also about taking the opportunity to really learn from how exactly people speak about their everyday lives.”.

While his research has been ongoing, the release of the book is timely as we emerge from a pandemic that has altered many people’s relationships to ‘everyday nature’.

“With lots of people working from home for the first time, some of the practices that I explore in my book have really changed for people. And now that many of us have been questioning them a bit more, this could be a good time to establish ways of living that really work for us.

"Otherwise, as I have tried to explore in my studies, we often just get used to things in ways that can encourage us to forget about outdoor benefits.”

Russell has found UCL Geography an excellent home for the development of this line of research: “I do think of this book as very much a product of UCL Geography because I feel that I've been given lots of space to develop my ideas here.

“I think we're given the autonomy to configure projects that really do what we want them to do. And that can allow you to address societal concerns in all sorts of new ways.”

Find out more:

The Unsettling Outdoors

For more information on the research, read Russell’s blog post on the new book, and give him a follow on Twitter.