An inclusive and sustainable blue space infrastructure for people with disabilities in Scotland post-Covid-19 pandemic

   Hydro Nation Scholars Programme 2022

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  Dr E Hall, Dr Sarah Halliday, Dr Husam Al Waer  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Evidence has consistently shown that using blue and green spaces has a positive impact on physical and mental health. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the ability to access and use blue and green spaces was positively related to people’s mental wellbeing. At the same time, existing inequalities in access worsened, due to lockdown travel restrictions and shielding requirements, disproportionately affecting people with a range of disabilities, older people, people in deprived communities, and those who live further from these spaces. In the emerging post-pandemic period, there is an important opportunity to examine how the wellbeing benefits of Scotland’s blue-green infrastructure can be made accessible, high-quality, sustainable, and resilient, for all.

This interdisciplinary PhD project will examine the health and wellbeing ecosystem services provided by blue-green infrastructure in Scotland for the one million people with disabilities. The project will seek to answer questions including: How can people with a range of disabilities be provided with improved access (physical, socio-cultural and informational) to, and supported to use, blue and green spaces? How can the quality and inclusivity of the blue-green infrastructure, under pressure as usage increases, be enhanced and managed, in a sustainable and equitable way, adaptable to future environmental conditions? The research will include national mapping of locations, quality, and benefits and barriers for use by people with disabilities, of blue-green infrastructure in Scotland; and case-studies of access to, and use and experiences of, and support services to enable access and use, in a diverse set of blue and green spaces in one region. The research will adopt a co-productive, participatory planning, and inclusive design approach, working with people with disabilities and other stakeholders in places in Scotland (including formation of a Project Advisory Group), to produce a development plan for inclusive existing and new blue-green infrastructure. It will directly contribute to Scottish Government’s programme to enhance blue-green infrastructure in communities, to create high-quality, healthy and resilient places to live (as envisioned in the Scottish Government’s (2021) Water-Resilient Places – Surface Water Management and Blue-Green Infrastructure: Policy Framework); and to policy commitments on strengthened access, equality, inclusion, and rights for people with disabilities (Scottish Government (2016) A Fairer Scotland for Disabled People: Delivery Plan 2016-21).


-Examine access (physical, socio-cultural, and informational) to and use of blue and green infrastructure by people with a range of disabilities in Scotland, pre, during, and emerging post, the Covid-19 pandemic, using a questionnaire survey and interviews.

-Map (using a quality assessment tool) the locations, quality, benefits, and barriers (physical, socio-cultural, informational) for access to and use of blue and green spaces, by people with disabilities.

-Assess the quality, inclusivity, and sustainability, and resilience, of existing and new blue and green spaces in places in Scotland, across Scotland and in set of diverse case-study sites in the TAYplan region of eastern Scotland (using a questionnaire survey and interviews).

-By using participatory planning approaches, with people with disabilities and other stakeholders embedded in places, produce a development plan for a high-quality, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient blue-green infrastructure Scotland post-pandemic.

The interdisciplinary supervisory team will cover different aspects of the project: Ed Hall – disability, wellbeing, and social exclusion/inclusion; Sarah Halliday – water quality and access, diversity and inclusion policy and practice; Husam Al Waer – sustainable urban design and participatory planning approaches. The successful candidates will also be supported by the Hydro Nation Scholarship Programme through formal training and networking.

Candidates should have a first-class honours degree in a relevant subject (e.g. geography, urban planning, environmental science, sustainability) or a 2.1 honours degree plus Masters degree (or equivalent).

Applicants are strongly advised to make an informal enquiry about the PhD to the primary supervisor well before the final submission deadline. Applicants must send a completed Hydro Nation Scholarship application form (available here with a Curriculum Vitae and a covering letter to Dr Edward Hall ([Email Address Removed] ) by the final submission deadline of 7th January 2022.



Funding Notes

The Hydro Nation Scholars Programme is an open competition for PhD Scholars to undertake approved projects, hosted within Scottish Universities and Research Institutes. This project will be hosted by the University of Dundee. Full funding is available from the Scottish Government (to host institutions via the Scottish Funding Council). The funding available will be in line with the UKRI doctoral stipend levels and indicative fees. Applicants should have a first-class honours degree in a relevant subject or a 2.1 honours degree plus Masters (or equivalent). Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed on 27th or 28th January 2022.
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