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2022 THEME

Greenness, Risk, and Psychology


There is a growing body of literature on the importance of "green space" to people's well-being. Populations in places with more high-quality green spaces, like parks or open land, have better health than areas with less green space. It could be that having more vegetation in your neighborhood means that more air pollutants get pulled from the air. It could be that having space outside to play or exercise is what makes the difference. It could even be a complex indicator of neighborhood wealth, safety and empowerment.


We will explore the question of how the greenness of a neighborhood affects wellness and risk perception through lectures on neighborhood indicators of greenness, psychosocial stress, and environmental pollution. We will also examine how air pollution can impact mental health. 


Risk perception is the lens through which we each decide on our actions. During the pandemic, we have all gotten more used to weighing risks and benefits. How we perceive those risks is key, and the human brain is often quite bad at getting these perceptions right. Risk perception is a major part of public health messaging and intervention.


For example, should teachers allow children to go outside for recess during a high air pollution episode, or should they keep them in and increase their inactivity? Which is riskier and why? We will look at the intersection of green space research and risk perception through project-based learning. The exact project focus will be determined by IGNITE participants, in consultation with IGNITE faculty.

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