Dr Sarah Bell
University of Exeter Medical School, Knowledge Spa, Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro, TR1 3HD
Dr Sarah Bell is a Lecturer in Health Geography, whose research focuses on the intersections between human health, wellbeing and the interlinked physical, social and cultural environments encountered through the life course. Sarah’s work is underpinned by a passion for qualitative methodological development, designing sensitive approaches that promote critical awareness of alternative ways of embodying, experiencing and interpreting diverse everyday geographies.
Sarah joined the European Centre in January 2012, where she developed a novel geo-narrative research approach to understand and situate people’s ‘green’ and ‘blue’ space encounters in the context of their everyday and whole lives. This combined GPS and accelerometer data with in-depth narrative and mobile go along interviews to explore the dynamic ways in which people seek out and experience such settings to foster a sense of health and wellbeing (or otherwise) over time.
During the PhD, Sarah developed a particular interest in the varied ways in which people come to embody such nature-based settings with the onset and progression of sensory impairment, and how such settings could be managed and interpreted in more socially inclusive ways. She was able to explore this further in a post-doctoral project, using in-depth narrative interviews to examine the mental health impacts of life with Ménière’s disease; a long-term progressive vestibular disorder, defined by episodes of severe and debilitating vertigo, aural fullness, tinnitus and sensorineural hearing loss. This work reiterated the importance of designing qualitative research methods that are carefully tailored to people’s everyday lives and sensory abilities.
Building on this, Sarah secured funding through the Economic and Social Research Council’s Future Research Leaders scheme to explore the role of diverse nature-based settings in the sensory, affective and emotional geographies of visual impairment through the life course (including individuals born with and those acquiring visual impairments later in life). In examining these aspects of experience, and establishing a collaborative stakeholder network (e.g. with landscape architects, planners, land-owning and recreational organisations, and visual impairment support and advocacy groups), this research aimed to promote more inclusive, multisensory opportunities to experience a sense of wellbeing with nature. Visit www.sensing-nature.com for more details.
Sarah is now building on this work through a new AHRC-funded network grant, designed to encourage more socially inclusive landscape decision-making to support health and wellbeing amongst diverse individuals and groups: "Unlocking Landscapes: History, Culture and Sensory Diversity in Landscape Use and Decision Making".
- 2015 PhD (University of Exeter Medical School)
- 2007 MSc Practising Sustainable Development (Royal Holloway, University of London)
- 2006 BA Biological Sciences (Oxford University)
Research group links
Sarah’s main research interests include:
- The role of nature-based settings as therapeutic landscapes through the life course;
- Geographies of health, wellbeing, impairment and disability;
- Engaging citizens and communities in their local natural environments;
- Evaluating the impact of research on policy.
- 2020 - 2022: "Unlocking Landscapes: History, Culture and Sensory Diversity in Landscape Use and Decision Making", AHRC-funded Research Networking Highlight Notice Award, Co-I.
- 2019-2020: "Living Well With Weather", Wellcome Trust Small Grant in Humanities and Social Sciences, Co-I
- 2018: "Nature Narratives: Vocalising Nature Sense", ESRC IAA Funded Project Co-Creation Award, PI
- 2017: "Nature Sense", ESRC IAA Funded Impact Cultivation Award, PI
- 2016-2018: "Sensing Nature", ESRC Future Research Leaders Fellowship, PI - www.sensing-nature.com.
Royal Geographical Society Geographies of Health and Wellbeing Research Group (https://ghrg.wordpress.com/)
The Landscape, Gardens and Health Forum (http://www.lghn.org.uk/latest-news--updates)
Publications by category
Publications by year
Sarah_Bell Details from cache as at 2019-12-12 05:09:12
I enjoy teaching on a range of themes rooted within critical health geography, including: therapeutic landscape encounters; geographies of health, wellbeing and disability; political ecologies of health; green/blue space and health; and environmental justice and health. I also enjoy teaching research methods, with a particular focus on qualitative and mixed methods research approaches. I'm very happy to supervise undergraduate or postgraduate dissertations that fall within these fields, as well as studies around the mental health/wellbeing impacts of illness, impairment and disablism.