Dr Jenny Roe, Lecturer in the School of the Built Environment at Heriot-Watt University, has been awarded a Beltane Public Engagement Fellowship. Beltane is a public engagement initiative working to foster growth of, and change perceptions about, public engagement.
Jenny's research looks at the relationship between the natural environment and wellbeing. Her Beltane Fellowship will look at ways in which botanical gardens can be made accessible to a more socially diverse range of users, using the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh as a case study. At present, botanical gardens tend to be used mostly by middle-class, white people, which is not always representative of the population living near the gardens. As a result, more deprived communities can miss out on the health and wellbeing benefits of botanical gardens even though they live close to them.
Jenny's Beltane-supported project will explore how the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh can be made more accessible to nearby communities such as Pilton or Leith. A key part of Jenny's Fellowship will be the initiation of a process to design a new nature play space at the Botanics. The new space will be developed incrementally through a process that requires the participation of local communities. This development process will allow the communities involved to have ownership of what is created.
If you are interested in engaging your research with the public, two new Beltane fellowship call has just been announced with further details available here.
The Beltane network is supported by four Edinburgh universities: the University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh Napier University and Queen Margaret University, with Heriot-Watt's involvement supported by its own public engagement initiative, HW Engage.