This article aims to explore the use of the user-centered design (UCD) method, mental model approach, of those who engage in environmental volunteering to work toward the development of a health-related impact measurement tool. It reports a case study which explores the use of one UCD method, a mental model approach. This is an understudied area of research that would be considerably valuable for practitioners in the voluntary sector who wish to create their own health-related impact measurement tool. Focus group interviews are used to explore how volunteers perceive the term health, their conceptual understandings, terminology used, and the attributes to measure it. This study is reported from the perspective of U.K. environmental charity, The Conservation Volunteers (TCV). Findings from this article can be used by other voluntary organizations and charities to help shape their own health-related impact measurement tool and the ways in which these tools can be tailored to suit their individual needs.
Engaging in environmental community-based practices such as environmental volunteering has been shown to offer a range of benefits, including social connectivity. There has been a growth in studies exploring the potential impact of people engaging in environmental community-based practices has on the resilience of social-ecological systems. However, these studies have not fully explored those characteristics environmental volunteering groups undertake which can help to promote and support the resilience of social-ecological systems. This study provides further understanding about social-ecological resilience and examines how environmental volunteering has the potential to promote and strengthen the resilience of social-ecological systems. This is explored through the lens of four characteristics regarded as key attributes fostering resilience in social-ecological systems using focus group interviews: activity, self-organisation, connections and skills and knowledge. The study is reported from the perspective of 13 local community groups in Greater London (UK) who engaged in environmental volunteering as a case study. Findings show there to be variability in these characteristics explored amongst local community groups, providing further contextual insight into how these local community groups operate. By exploring these characteristics, groups were able to understand how they operate, knowledge which can then be used to enhance their future activities to help strengthen the resilience of social-ecological systems.
There are several frameworks which have been developed to describe the Natural Capital assessment approach. However, some of these frameworks are not fully operational in practice, and there is no unified methodology. Furthermore, calls have been made to increase the public's awareness and understanding of Natural Capital issues. To address some of these limitations it has been suggested to incorporate citizen science methods, an approach which has been increasingly growing in the Natural Capital field. The purpose of this article is to present a framework within the context of UK environmental policy as a case study. It illustrates the practicalities and the potential of using citizen science and other forms of public engagement approaches within a pre-existing Natural Capital accounting framework. This article first reviews current UK Natural Capital assessment approaches, as well as the potential for including citizen science and public engagement approaches. Combining these approaches, the inclusion of citizen science within the Natural Capital assessment framework is explored through the development of a conceptual model. We argue that the inclusion of a citizen science approach, and other forms of public engagement within the Natural Capital assessment can support in gathering a multidimensional perspective on comprehensive Natural Capital assets, and ecosystem service benefits. Knowledge generated could then be implemented to support holistic decision-making for nature-based solutions.
The need for the world to follow a more carbon-neutral path is clear, with growing evidence highlighting the existential threat posed by unregulated GHG emissions. Responsibility for achieving this does not only lie with policy makers but is shared with all stakeholders including governments, private sectors, charities and civil society as a whole. Several methodological approaches have been developed to set emission reduction targets, including the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). However, it is yet to be widely adopted, and as thought leaders in the field, universities must take a lead in its interpretation and application. This study is reported from the perspective of a UK university, which is adopting climate change considerations to facilitate achieving Czero by 2030 and will act as an exemplar case. We calculate baseline emissions, science-based reduction targets for different carbon emission reduction methods and options in terms of financing emission reduction pathways at present and in the future. The study outcomes show that incorporating a SBTi methodology can serve as insight into other medium-sized organisations and universities wishing to develop a net-zero pathway. These results have been summarised into a series of recommendations.
Extreme weather alerting systems are one of the central tools utilised in adapting to changing weather patterns resulting from climate change. This paper evaluates the effectiveness of the current alerting systems for hot and cold weather used in England to notify the health and social care sector of upcoming extreme weather events. We consider the views of stakeholders on the current system and explore their perspectives on the proposal to move towards an impact-based system. The paper concludes that while the current system is an effective tool, stakeholders feel they need to draw on additional material to assist with the development of an appropriate response. We also highlight that many stakeholders are concerned about the potential for creating alert fatigue due to a lack of clarity of the geographical area impact of some of the alerts. Consequently, there was a high level of support from stakeholders for the move towards an impact-focused system.
User-Centred Design (UCD) researchers have been investigating smart homes for 20 years and have highlighted the approaches’ effectiveness in identifying the requirements of users. Despite the growing interest in smart homes, research has shown that its adoption remains low. This owes to the tendency for research to often use a technological-centred approach to improve a pre-existing product or tailor it to target users. Visions of smart homes may therefore not have been fully based on a clear understanding of users’ needs and sociotechnical issues of concern. Enabling the public to have a role in shaping the future of smart home technologies and related sociotechnical issues of concern in the early stages of the UCD process have been widely recommended. Specifically, there have been calls to engage the public in sharing responsibility for developing data privacy agreements, data governance frameworks, and effectively domesticating technologies into life and ‘home’ systems. This paper introduces the citizens’ jury method to enable the public to have a role in shaping the future of smart homes and related sociotechnical issues. This is an understudied area of research that would be considerably valuable for practitioners in the usability and smart technology sectors. Findings from this paper are based on a cross-section of UK citizens’, exploring their opinions on sociotechnical issues of data security, accessibility to and control over use of devices and technological appliances associated with smart homes. A set of recommendation are developed to provide guidance and suggested actions on approaching these issues in the future.