Urban Nature & Social Justice

Research Direction 1

Urban environment and suicide behaviours

This rapid urbanization has created more cities with high-density built environments and urban dwellers globally. People living in high-density cities are more vulnerable to health problems and suicidal tendencies than those living in less densely populated cities. Urban dwellers, particularly those with lower SES in high-density cities, are much more vulnerable to these health issues. We aim to identify pathways and propose a theoretical model that can depicts the complex relationships between the socioeconomic, demographic, and built environment factors; the mental health, physical health, and social health status; and the suicidal intention and suicidal death rate of residents.

Research Direction 2

Urban environments, safety, and crimes

In cities around the world, there are many environmental interventions based on different criminological theories that have been invested to improve safety. However, a lot of ordinary but neglected spaces are perceived as unsafe, such as alleys. It is still unclear how vegetation might impact people’s perceived safety. Previous studies suggest that vegetation creates insecurity in urban environments, but others argue that vegetation increases nature surveillance and perceived safety. Our research aims to uncover the relationship between perceived safety and special urban spaces such as alleys, as well as reveal how perceived safety is impacted by vegetation. We review important criminological theories, propose effective urban interventions method, and support policymakers, and environmental designers to update urban design theories to create safer environments around the world.

Research Direction 3

Nature and children’s development

Green spaces can significantly benefit children’s physical health, mental health, and personal development from infancy into adulthood. Our work aims to investigate how to promote physical, mental, and social health in urban environments from the perspective of grit-oriented nature education and pediatrics. The findings can provide city managers and design professionals solution on improving the urban environment to influence citizens’ lifestyles, and equip education professionals with new teaching method that incorporate nature experiences.

Research Direction 4

Green spaces and health disparity caused by socioeconomic disparity

Racial health disparity is a significant problem in many countries and can lead to social conflicts, economic crises, and loss of life. Exposure to green space reduces health disparities among people of different socio-economic and demographic groups. However, a detailed methodology and application are lacking for governments, landscape designers, and city planners to improve environmental justice. The research provides a set of original methods for design practice in a complex social and economic context, and to raise awareness regarding the health, dignity, and freedom of the public.