UCL Global


Global Engagement Funds Case Study: Europe

Dr Carla Washbourne, Lecturer in Environmental Science and Policy, used a grant to collaborate with researchers in Frankfurt, Germany


21 September 2018

Dr Carla Washbourne

Lecturer in Environmental Science and Policy

“I used the Global Engagement Funds for a project that aimed to understand how different people view the relative importance of a range of ‘services’ provided by the urban environment.

The research formed part of the SUCCESS project based at Newcastle University, which looks at whether it’s possible to design urban green spaces in order to optimise the way they do things like filter water, mitigate flooding, or capture carbon or provide biodiversity space.

Our work centred particularly around a survey that was open to anybody who was interested, asking people what they thought about urban green spaces and what they valued most within them.

To conduct analysis of the data we collected, I travelled to Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung in Frankfurt, where Peter Manning, one of my collaborators, is based. His team has a great deal of expertise in terms of modelling and statistics and the environmental theory around it.

I’d first encountered Pete Manning when he was at Newcastle University, in what was then known as the Department of Agriculture. When it comes to research collaboration, keeping track of your network is important; back then we’d had a couple of conversations about the fact that we were both interested in urban spaces, as well as the priorities people had for those spaces.

During the week I spent in Frankfurt, I went through the survey data and used different tools to investigate the patterns that emerged. One of the things we were trying to do was not only to find out generally what people valued in urban spaces, but then also to see where this varied between people who had self-identified as being from a different professional group.

We now want to use this information to think about what this means for how we design these green spaces, and the priorities we have in cities. We’ll now hopefully be able to feed our findings into the wider SUCCESS project.

Applying for the Global Engagement Funding was really straightforward - and we’ve actually been funded for another project in 2018/19. We’ll be working with colleagues in South Africa on further research into urban green spaces and what people want from them.

We want to bring together decision makers and community members in London together using a platform they've already used in Johannesburg and Cape Town called a ‘City Lab’, to discuss what we’re currently doing in our urban green spaces, and what the opportunities and challenges are.”