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People walking in a field

Project description

Walking is a basic and universal form of travel. There are many words for different types of walks. When we walk to work, we commute. When we walk in large numbers, we march, or parade. Walking as research can allow us to interrogate the past, critique the present, and imagine the future

Primary participants

Principal Investigators:

Alexander Hibberts (Lead-PI), PhD candidate, Department of History, 

Nick Pepper (Co-PI), PhD candidate, Department of History (Northumbria University)

The body as a tool – the act of walking as a creative methodology – is a vital link between theory and practice particularly when studying landscapes, both historic and contemporary. McNeill (2003) asserts that environmental history ‘is as about as interdisciplinary as intellectual pursuits can get’. Environmental historians have always been ready to put on ‘walking shoes’ and venture into the 'fields, woods, and open air' (Worster, 1988).

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Despite bringing diverse disciplinary preconceptions, a shared experience of walking and the tactile environment will spark cross-disciplinary exchange and innovation. Each discipline brings unique perspectives, methodologies, and expertise, allowing for a holistic examination of the complex interactions between natural and human systems. Structured and spontaneous discussions on the walk and reflexive exercises afterwards will take several forms. Each participant will lead a section of the walk, encouraging others to view surroundings from their standpoint. All will also collect intriguing objects to facilitate later conversation, write short diary entries, and record their individual walks on personal phones. Remote sensors will also collect physiological data.  

Senior academics and non-academic partners, including NNPA and a creative practitioner, will support translation of this walking experience into outputs: a reflective seminar discussing unexpected discoveries and connections; the production of academic outcomes such as a collaborative journal article and conference papers; a public film to be shown at The Sill and other community venues in NNPA; a policy document for NNPA, other national parks, and local government to empower communities to actively participate in decision-making on heritage, landscape, and environmental sustainability. Walking between The Sill and Greenlee Lough also feeds into NNPA visitor access consulations to connect these two amenities whilst protecting the lough’s rare flora.