UCL Grand Challenges


Current Activities

Green/Blue Spaces and Health

In academic year 2019-2020, the Grand Challenge of Global Health (GCGH) is delivering the special initiative: Green/Blue Spaces and Health. As part of this initiative, GCGH has awarded support to the value of £8,834 to two research projects. The funded projects will aim to explore the relationship between natural environments and health.

  • GBStressFree: Green-Blue Spaces for Stress-Free Travel (£6,834)

Mr Emmanouil Chaniotakis - School of Environment, Energy and Resources (Bartlett) | Ms Marie Mueller - Department of Psychology and Human Development (IOE) | Prof. Eirini Flouri - Department of Psychology and Human Development (IOE) | Dr. Ana Basiri - Centre for Advanced Spacial Analysis (Bartlett) 

Long commutes are associated with chronic stress, physical and emotional exhaustion, and other psychological and behavioural consequences. At the same time, research suggests that green-blue spaces can have positive effects on health and well-being, for example, by reducing stress levels. The aim of this study is twofold: first, to highlight the positive impact of green-blue spaces on people’s health and well-being, and secondly, to define a ‘stress-reducing’ route planner.

The results of the project will inform a new paradigm in urban and transport planning that can improve people’s health and well-being. The team will bring together stakeholders from different backgrounds and with different roles to raise awareness and communicate the findings, set the stage for co-creation of activities in the future, and give directions with regard to future research.

  • Heritage sites: policy making, health and wellbeing (£2,000)

Dr Antonio Sennis - Department of History (SHS) | Dr Johanna Dale - Department of History (SHS) | Dr Carla Washbourne - Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy (Faculty of Engineering Science)

This project will analyse the connections between the remains of two medieval hospitals (Maldon, Essex, and Ilford, East London) and local communities in terms of their heritage, and in relation to their historical and cultural concepts of health and wellbeing.
- In Maldon, the team is establishing a ‘medieval route’ that, starting from the remains of the leper hospital, will take visitors through a number of local heritage sites. Among other things, the route (circa 5 Km long) will link heritage sites to the benefits of physical exercise.
- Ilford has a quite substantial ethnic-minority population. The project will explore the possibility of linking research on medicinal herbs and food to a local project that involves residents and helps them reflects on the role of their shared traditions in the practice and maintenance of a general wellbeing. 

The team will document insights from these activities around engagement and decision-making processes at community level for supporting the use of these sites and explore how these have the potential to influence local, regional or even national policies. 

Support for collaborations through the Institute for Global Health

Following on the Global Health Networking Event, held in January 2020 by the Institute for Global Health, UCL Grand Challenges have awarded funding to two projects aiming to address challenges in low and middle-income countries.

  • Mapping the ‘Wicked Problem’ of Arsenic Poisoning in Bangladesh (£2,000)

Prof. Joanne Santini - Division of Biosciences (Life Sciences) | Dr Kate Roll - Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (Bartlett)

  • Understanding the impact of displacement on mental health: a cross-sector cross-country initiative (£2,000)

Prof. Monica Lakhanpaul - Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health (Population Health Sciences) | Dr Kelly Dickson - Department of Social Science (IOE) | Dr Mukdarut Bangpan - Department of Social Science (IOE) | Dr Miriam Orcutt - Institute for Global Health (Population Health Sciences) | Hannah Sender - Development Planning Unit and Institute for Global Prosperity (Bartlett)

Areas of Interest

Areas of interest for GCGH include, but are not limited to: non-communicable diseases, antimicrobial resistance, environment and health, and mental health.