PhD Defense | Green Care practices and place-based sustainability transformations: a participatory action-oriented study in Finland | by Angela Moriggi

June 1 2021, at 11.00 am (CET) Angela Moriggi will defend her PhD-thesis ‘Green Care practices and place-based sustainability transformations: A participatory action-oriented study in Finland‘. See the Abstract below. The full thesis can be downloaded from the WUR Library after the defense ceremony, or by clicking its DOI.

The ceremony will be live-streamed by Weblectures.wur.nl, but is recorded and can be viewed later as well. Angela Moriggi was appointed as research fellow at the EU funded MSCA ITN project SUSPLACE, employed by the Natural Resources Institute of Finland (LUKE) and PhD-candidate at the Rural Sociology Group of Wageningen University. Since April 2021 she holds a position as research fellow at the Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture, and Forestry (TESAF) of the University of Padova.

Abstract

This study aims to contribute to the field of sustainability transformations by exploring the role of change agency and social entrepreneurship in the context of Green Care. In order to do so, it investigates Green Care practices in Finland, focusing on the practitioners of nature-based activities targeting well-being, social inclusion, pedagogy, and recreation. Drawing from care ethics and relational approaches to sustainability, I address change agency from two perspectives. First, I delve into the values, emotions, and mindsets (the inner dimensions) of Green Care practitioners and how they translate into caring practices for both humans and non-humans; second, I analyse practitioners’ change agency in relation to the specificity of place and place-based resources. Methodologically, I use an in-depth case-study qualitative approach, engaging three communities of Finnish practitioners: a care farm, a biodynamic farm, and a nature-tourism company. I combine transdisciplinary and participatory action-oriented principles and techniques, using both traditional and creative methods, including semi-structured interviews, video interviews, Photo-voice, and co-creation workshops. Findings reveal that many caring practices can be considered transformative, especially when they are motivated by deep ethical values and emotions and when they are attentive to the needs and capacities of both humans and non-humans. When Green Care practitioners shape their services in line with their sustainability values and visions, their potential impact extends beyond the target users to the wider community and place. In the process, practitioners mobilize a vast array of personal, community, organizational, and structural resources. I provide a comprehensive overview of these resources and differentiate between conditions that enable processes of sustainability transformation, such as personal passions and sense of place, and those that constrain it, such as regulatory frameworks and financial means.