Urban human-nature resonance for sustainability transformation



In the era of exceeding planetary boundaries and rapid urbanization, (re-)connecting society and people with nature can be considered as a major leverage point for sustainability transformation. Surprisingly, we know little about human-nature connection in an urban and sustainability transformative context.

Objectives and approaches of the junior research group

This interdisciplinary junior research group will develop and test the novel conceptual account "urban human-nature resonance" for

  1. describing urban human-nature connection integratively,
  2. assessing human-nature connection depth in terms of responsive human-nature relationships and
  3. exploring human-nature connection impacts on sustainability transformation.

The interdisciplinary approach is based on relational values of ecosystem services, on the theory of resonance describing responsive human-nature relationships and on deep ecology. The project hypothesizes that in the face of a need to limit resource consumption, responsive human-nature connection recognizes that caring for nature means caring for oneself.

Four contextual research questions are in the focus of the project:

  1. Which types of human-nature relationships can be found in cities?
  2. How do human-nature relationships influence urban human-nature resonance?
  3. To what degree does urban human-nature resonance have an impact on a respectful human-nature relationship in contrast to mute human-nature relationships?
  4. Which responses support a respectful human-nature relationship?

To answer the research questions, the project includes conceptual and empirical research with a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods. Three subprojects will explore urban human-nature resonance based on a multi-level approach. It will take into account collective actors (e.g., government agencies, NGOs), individual human-nature connections and urban human-food relationships as a thematic perspective. As an example of a Western and growth-oriented society, the empirical research aims at including big cities of Germany. The research group will provide a fresh interdisciplinary approach to urban ecology research and sustainability transformation studies exploring urban human-nature connection qualities for a flourishing urban life.