culture + environment creating health + wellbeing engaged research

Moral Terrains: An Anthropology of Green Social Prescribing

Green Social Prescribing  is a government initiative to support access to nature in order to tackle health inequalities (see here). Green Social Prescribing involves charities that look after gardens, city farms, walking groups, wildlife groups, and other nature-based activities accepting ‘referrals’ from primary health care, including through ‘link workers’, whose role it is to signpost and support access to the appropriate activities.  

There is now an important body of research that investigates whether, or how, nature is good for health, but this project does something a little bit different: It investigates how human morality might shape relationships between nature and health.  

This means asking questions like: 

These questions are important for advancing contextual understandings of health and health care. But these questions are also of utmost practical utility, because they can help decision makers to plan and resource strategies that can answer to the complex challenges involved in addressing health inequalities.


This project uses 13 months of ethnographic research at field sites in and around Bristol. Ethnographic research means getting to know people by spending time with them, observing what day-to-day life is like. This long-term approach means I can learn what matters most to those involved, and how to do research that can support their needs, strengths and values.  During ethnographic research, I will be spending time at field sites, including gardens, farms, walking and wildlife groups, in and around the Bristol area. But I will also be getting to know regional organisations, trainings and networks, and paying attention to national politics and media, in order to understand Green Social Prescribing within its broader context. The project uses ‘horizontal recruitment’ which means that I am as interested in the perspectives of service users as service providers. It also uses a ‘whole person’ approach, which means I am interested in learning about how Green Social Prescribing fits within the rest of people’s lives.  

As well as ethnographic methods, this project will draw flexibly from a broad tool-box of mixed qualitative methods including informal interviews, audio-recorded interviews, journalling, and creative photography and art workshops. This will provide a range of opportunities for different perspectives to be expressed in different ways. 


Find Out More 

If you would like to know more about the project, or are interested in getting involved, please email me at R.Jones-McVey@exeter.ac.uk.



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About me: 

I’m Rosie Jones Mcvey.

Please feel free to approach me in person to ask about the research.

I’m a social anthropologist, I completed my PhD from Cambridge University 2014-2018, and my previous research has focussed on different cultural and moral ways of understanding brains, minds and behaviours. My most recent project investigated equine-assisted therapies for UK youth and you can read some of the research generated from that project here.