Everyday encounters with nature: Students’ perceptions and use of university campus green spaces

Author: , and
Key words: , , , , ,
Issue: Volume 7, Issue 1, 2013


Green spaces are an integral part of many university campuses. Universities with attractive green space areas often highlight these as attributes which contribute positively to the student experience and the image of the university. This study’s survey of students at Liverpool Hope University reveals insights about students’ perceptions and use of campus green spaces. The vast majority of students both use and appreciate green spaces, and consider them important for the image of the university and as an essential component of the campus environment. The aesthetic qualities of the campus and its design and management style, influence perceptions and use of its green spaces with formal, manicured gardens and lawns being much preferred over more naturalistic areas. We show that a university campus needs multiple forms of green spaces to satisfy the needs of a diversity of student users, and consider the implications for a university’s green space development.

Full text

Permalink (doi)

Authors Affiliations

Janet Speake,* Sally Edmondson, Haq Nawaz
Department of Geography, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool, UK
* Corresponding author. Email: speakej@hope.ac.uk


Abu-Ghazzeh, TM 1999, ‘Communicating behavioural research to campus design’, Environment and Behavior, vol. 31, pp. 764-804.[CrossRef]

Ahmed, MK & Hassan, R 2003, People’s perception toward value of urban green spaces in environmental development, Proceedings of XII World Forest Congress, Quebec, Canada, viewed on 26th January 2013, http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/ARTICLE/WFC/XII/0347-B5.HTM.

Alvey, AA 2006, ‘Promoting and preserving biodiversity in the urban forest’, Urban Forestry and Greening, vol.5.4, pp. 195-201. [CrossRef]

Bonnes, M, Passafaro, P & Carrus, G 2011, ‘The ambivalence of attitudes toward urban green areas: between proenvironmental worldviews and daily residential experience’, Environment and Behavior, vol. 43.2, pp. 207-232. [CrossRef]

Bradley, C & Millward, A 1986, ‘Successful green space- do we know it when we see it’, Landscape Research, vol.11, pp. 2-8. [CrossRef]

Burgess, J, Harrison, CM & Limb, M 1988, ‘People, parks, and the urban green: a study of popular meanings and values for open spaces in the city’, Urban Studies, vol. 25, pp. 455-473. [CrossRef]

Chiesura, A 2004, ‘The role of urban parks for the sustainable city’, Landscape and Urban Planning, vol. 68, pp. 129-138.[CrossRef]

Clifton, RA, Etchevery, E, Hasinoff, S & Roberts, LW 1996, Measuring the cognitive domain of the quality of life of university students, Social Indicators Research, vol. 38, pp. 29-52. [CrossRef]

Coakley, JJ & White, A 1992, ‘Making decisions: Gender and sports participations among British adolescents’, Sociology of Sport Journal, vol. 9, pp. 20-35.

Coeterier, JF 1996, ‘Dominant attributes in the perception and evaluation of the Dutch landscape’, Landscape and Urban Planning, vol. 34, pp. 27-44. [CrossRef]

Dixon, M, Webb, M, Cook, G & Forster, J 2007, Biodiversity on Campus: An EAUC practical guide, Cheltenham, UK, The Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges.

Dober, RP 2000, Campus Landscape: Functions, Forms, Features, New York, John Wiley & Sons.

Dunnett, N, Swanwick, C & Wooley, H 2002, ‘Improving urban parks, play areas and open spaces’, Urban Research Report, London, DTLR.

Dyment, JE & Bell, AC 2008, ‘Our garden is colour blind, inclusive and warm: reflections on green school grounds and social inclusion’, International Journal of Inclusive Education, vol. 12, pp. 169-183. [CrossRef]

Forsyth, A 2003, People and urban green areas: perception and use, Design Center for American Urban Landscape, viewed on 9th August 2009, http://www.designcenter.umn.edu/reference_ctr/publications/pdfs/db4.pdf.

Frumkin, H 2001, ‘Beyond toxicity: Human health and the natural environment’, American Journal of Preventative Medicine, vol. 20, pp. 234–240. [CrossRef]

Fuller, RA, Irvine, KN, Devine-Wright, P, Warren, PH & Gaston, K 2007, ‘Psychological benefits of greenspace increase with biodiversity’, Biology Letters, vol. 3, pp. 390-394. [CrossRef] [PMid:17504734] [PMCid:2390667]

Gearin, E & Kahle, C, 2006, ‘Teen and adult perceptions of urban green space in Los Angeles’, Children, Youth and Environments, vol. 16, pp. 25-48.

Gilbert, OL 1989, ‘The ecology of urban habitats’, London, Chapman and Hall. [CrossRef]

Giles-Corti, B, Broomhall, MH, Knuiman, M, Collins, C, Douglas, KNgK, Lange, A & Donovan, RJ 2005, ‘Increasing walking: How important is distance to, attractiveness, and size of public open space’, American Journal of Preventive Medicine, vol. 28, pp. 169-176.

Gill, SE, Handley, JF, Ennos, AR & Pauleit, S 2007, ‘Adapting Cities for Climate Change: The role of the green infrastructure’, Built Environment, vol. 33.1, pp. 115-133. [CrossRef]

Gobster, PH, Nassauer, JI, Daniel, TC & Fry, G 2007, ‘The shared landscape: what does aesthetics have to do with ecology’, Landscape Ecology, vol. 22, pp. 959-972. [CrossRef]

Greendorfer, SL 1993, ‘Gender role stereotypes and early childhood socializations’, Psychology of Women Quarterly, vol. 11, pp. 327-340. [CrossRef]

Griffith, JC 1994, ‘Open space preservation: an imperative for quality campus environments’, Journal of Higher Education, vol. 65, pp. 645-669. [CrossRef]

Groen, JA & White, MJ 2003, ‘In-state versus out-of-state students: the divergence of interest between public universities and state governments’, Journal of Public Economics, vol. 88, pp. 1793-1814. [CrossRef]

Gumprecht, B 2007, ‘The campus as a public space in the American college town’, Journal of Historical Geography, vol. 33, pp. 72-103. [CrossRef]

Herzog, TR & Flynn-Smith, JA 2001, ‘Preference and perceived danger as a function of the perceived curvature, length, and width of urban alleys’, Environment and Behavior, vol. 33, pp. 653-666. [CrossRef]

Hvenegaard, G 2007, ‘A Novel approach to deepen understanding of undergraduates’ environmental background’, International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education, vol. 16, pp. 328-338. [CrossRef]

Irvine, KN, Devine-Wright, P, Payne, SR, Fuller, RA, Painter, B & Gaston, KJ 2009, ‘Green space, soundscape and urban sustainability: an interdisciplinary, empirical study’, Local Environment, vol. 14, pp. 155-172. [CrossRef]

Jim, CY & Chen, WY 2006, ‘Recreation, amenity use and contingent valuation of urban green spaces in Guangzhou, China’, Landscape and Urban Planning, vol. 75, pp. 81-96. [CrossRef]

Kahn, PH, Friedman, B, Hagman, J, Feldman, E, Carrere, S, Severson, R, Gill, B & Stolyar, A 2008, ‘A plasma display window? The shifting baseline problem in a technologically mediated natural world’, Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol. 28, pp. 192-199. [CrossRef]

Korpela, KM, Hartig, T, Kaiser, FG & Fuhrer, U 2001, ‘Restorative experience and self-regulation in favorite places’, Environment and Behavior, vol. 33, pp. 572-589. [CrossRef]

LaFargue, L 2004, Nature is to nurture: a post occupancy evaluation of the St. Michael Health Care Center, Texarkana, TX, Master thesis, Louisiana State University, Department of Landscape Architecture, Louisiana.

Lindemann-Matthies, P & Bose E 2008, ‘How many species are there: public understanding and awareness of biodiversity in Switzerland’, Human Ecology, vol. 36, pp. 731-742. [CrossRef]

Lindholm, G 1995, ‘Schoolyards: the significance of place properties to outdoors activities in schools’, Environment and Behavior, vol. 27, pp. 259-293. [CrossRef]

Maas, J, van Dillen, S M, Verheij, R A, & Groenewegen, P P 2009, ‘Social contact as a possible mechanism behind the relation between green space and health’, Health and Place, vol. 15, pp. 586-595. [CrossRef] [PMid:19022699]

McFarland, AL, Waliczek, TM, Zajicek, JM 2008, ‘The Relationship Between Student Use of Campus Green Spaces and Perceptions of Quality of Life, Horticulture Technology, vol. 18, pp. 196-319.

Maller, C, Townsend, M, Pryor, A, Brown, P & St Leger, L 2006, ‘Healthy nature healthy people: ‘contact with nature’ as an upstream health promotion intervention for populations’, Health Promotion International, vol. 21.1, pp. 45-54. [CrossRef] [PMid:16373379]

Miller, JR 2005, ‘Biodiversity conservation and the extinction of experience’, Trends in Ecology and Evolution, vol. 20.8, pp. 430-434. [CrossRef] [PMid:16701413]

Misra, R & McKean, M 2000, ‘College students’ academic stress and its relation to their anxiety, time management and leisure satisfaction’, American Journal of Health Studies, vol. 16, pp. 41-51.

Nathan, R 2005, My Freshman Year: what a professor learned by becoming a student, New York, Cornell University Press.

Nikolopoulu, M & Lykoudis, S 2007, ‘Use of outdoor spaces and microclimate in a Mediterranean urban area’, Built Environment, vol. 42.10, pp. 3691-3707.

Özgüner, H, Kendle, AD & Bisgrove, JR 2006, ‘Attitudes of landscape professionals towards naturalistic versus formal urban landscapes in the UK’, Landscape and Urban Planning, vol. 81, pp. 34-45. [CrossRef]

Purcell, T, Person, E & Berto, R 2001, ‘Why do preferences differ between scene types?’, Environment and Behavior, vol.33, pp. 93-106. [CrossRef]

Sanesi, G & Chiarello, F 2006, ‘Residents and urban green spaces: the case of Bari’, Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, vol. 4, pp. 125-134. [CrossRef]

Schiffman, L & Kanuk, L 1987, Consumer Behavior, New Jersey, Prentice-Hall.

Schipperijn, J, Stigsdotter, UK, Randrup, TB & Troelsen, J 2010, ‘Influences on the use of urban green space- A case study in Odense, Denmark’, Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, vol. 9, pp. 25-32. [CrossRef]

Scott, D & Munson, W 1994, ‘Perceived constraints to park usage among individuals with low incomes’, Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, vol. 12, pp. 79-96.

Shaftoe, H 2008 Convivial Urban Spaces: creating effective public places, London, Earthscan.

Strauss, A & Corbin, J 1998, Basic of Qualitative Research: Techniques and procedure for developing Grounded theory, London, Sage.

Swanwick, C, Dunnett, N & Wolley, H 2003, ‘Nature, Role and Value of Green Space in Towns and Cities: An Overview’, Built Environment, vol. 29, pp. 94-106. [CrossRef]

Thompson, K, Austin, K, Smith, R, Warren, P, Angold, P & Gaston, K 2003, ‘Urban domestic gardens (I): Putting small-scale plant diversity in context’, Journal of Vegetation Science, vol. 14, pp. 71-78. [CrossRef]

Thompson, K, Hodgson, JG, Smith, RM, Warren, PH & Gaston, KJ 2004, ‘Urban domestic gardens (III): Composition and diversity of lawn floras’, Journal of Vegetation Science, vol. 15, pp. 373-378. [CrossRef]

Ulrich, RS & Addoms, D 1981, ‘Psychological and recreation benefits of a recreational park’, Journal of Leisure Research, vol. 13, pp. 43-65.

Ulrich, RS, Simons, RF, Losito, BD, Fiorito, E, Miles, MA & Zelson, M 1991, ‘Stress recovery during exposure to natural and urban environments’, Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol. 11, pp. 201-230. [CrossRef]

Van den Berg, L & Russo, AP 2004, The student city: strategic planning for student communities in EU cities, Aldershot, Ashgate.

Van den Berg, AE & van Winsum-Westra, M 2010, ‘Manicured, romantic or wild? The relation between the need for structure and preferences for garden styles’, Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, vol. 9, pp. 179-186. [CrossRef]

Van Herzele, A & Wiedemann, T 2003, ‘A monitoring tool for the provision of accessible and attractive urban green spaces’, Landscape and Urban Planning, no 63, pp. 109-126. [CrossRef]

Walsh, C, Larsen, C & Parry, D 2009, ‘Academic tutors at the frontline of student support in a cohort of students succeeding in higher education’, Educational Studies, vol. 35.4, pp. 405-424. [CrossRef]

Woolley, H 2003, Urban Open Spaces, Spon Publishers, London. [CrossRef]

Zheng, B, Zhang, Y & Chen, J 2011, Preference to home landscape: wilderness or neatness? Landscape and Urban Planning, vol. 99, pp. 1-8. [CrossRef]

This post has already been read 11901 times!

About journal

Title: Human Geographies - Journal of Studies and Research in Human Geography
ISSN online: 2067-2284
ISSN print: 1843-6587
Imprint: University of Bucharest
Frequency: Biannual (May&November)
First volume: 1/2007
Current volume: 17/2023
Language: English
Indexed in: SCOPUS, ERIH PLUS, EBSCO (SocINDEX), ProQuest (Social Science Journals, SciTech Journals, Natural Science Journals), Index Copernicus, National Technical Information Service (NTiS), Bodleian Libraries, ExLibris SFX, DOAJ, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Library, Google Scholar, Ulrich
Creative Commons License


Prof. dr. Liliana Dumitrache
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Geography- Human and Economic Geography Department, 1 Nicolae Balcescu Av., 010041, Bucharest, Romania

Dr. Daniela Dumbrăveanu
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Geography- Human and Economic Geography Department, 1 Nicolae Balcescu Av., 010041, Bucharest, Romania

Dr. Mariana Nae
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Geography- Human and Economic Geography Department, 1 Nicolae Balcescu Av., 010041, Bucharest, Romania

Dr. Gabriel Simion
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Geography- Human and Economic Geography Department, 1 Nicolae Balcescu Av., 010041, Bucharest, Romania

SCImago Journal & Country Rank