Day Two, 2pm - Open Space

The World Health Organisation states that environment is a major determinant of health, estimated to account for almost 20% of all deaths in the European Region. Factors such as climate change, population, air quality, noise, and sanitation all contribute to the growing concern to develop research into the relationship between our environment and our wellbeing. Movements such as ‘One Health’ have reinforced the interconnection of the health of humans, animals and ecosystems, and the need for a multidisciplinary approach. But in the light of current environmental crises, the positive impact of what we might term the ‘natural’ world on the human experience can be overlooked. Indeed, because of such fundamental interconnectivity, the histories, narratives, physical and chemical materialities, and ‘nature’ of the world can tell us much about our humanity and health.

Drawing upon historical, literary, geographical, medical and scientific disciplines, this roundtable session will consider a range of examples to explore the meanings of human and animal interactions with the environment. The panel will ask: how do our experiences in nature, and the meanings that we attach to it, foster physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual wellbeing? How do different forms of life interconnect? In what ways does the environment provide a hostile context, inconducive to health? How might a history of the natural world enhance our understanding of medicine and cure? And in what ways might increased collaboration between disciplines enable a better understanding of the ways in which we perceive and interact with the non-human world?

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