SPARKS - Social parks. Urban greeenspace as a focus for connecting communities and research

Lead Research Organisation: University of Abertay Dundee
Department Name: Sch of Science Engineering and Tech


Abstracts are not currently available in GtR for all funded research. This is normally because the abstract was not required at the time of proposal submission, but may be because it included sensitive information such as personal details.


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Description The SPARKS project aimed to integrate physical, social science and design through research on parks and other urban 'social' green spaces - Social Parks. The project brought together researchers who are collectively interested in these social spaces, thereby stimulating cross-disciplinary interaction and analysis. A full appreciation or 'valuation' of the role of these urban spaces in contributing to a 'big society' requires cross-disciplinary input, engagement with, and for, communities, and analysis at differing spatial and temporal scales.

The project aimed to connect communities and research, and enhance community involvement. Users will be encouraged to reflect on how their behaviour and attitudes have changed when places/sites are re-designated, for example, from waste land to 'urban park' or city park to community park. The project aims to explore not just how urban green spaces might frame behaviour but how they may change behaviours.
Some questions have been identified to help frame this enquiry. What do we know about these spaces: what is the 'value' of green space over other land use types and the added value of water (or other significant features) within parks; how might local parks affect health and well-being and how might communities explore new uses for parks that celebrate identity and belonging? How are they changing: what is the adaptive capacity of communities in the face of climate change? What does the future hold for urban parks and green-space and what new roles should/can parks and urban green-space play in generating greater community cohesion in the 'Big Society'?
Exploitation Route Outputs include a designed event based on the individual efforts from existing projects and the collective efforts from this project. A non-academic summary report has also been prepared - which can potentially inform Local Government, other government departments, 'third sector' organisations and community groups who are increasingly engaged in park-related issues. This report identifies 'case studies' of good practice and outlines a future direction for delivery of a cross-disciplinary evidence base relating to urban green spaces and their role in connecting communities. In addition, the main findings have been circulated by project partners to local authorities /city councils.
Sectors Education,Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism

Description The sparks project was short term but the collaborations and new exposures to different disciplinary interests has been developed by the project partners to develop continued collaborative work with the communities engaged in the sparks project. For example: 'Language as Talisman' project. Kate Pahl (sheffield) was awarded a Development Grant from February - November 2012 from the AHRC's Connected Communities programme to do a study called Language as Talisman in partnership with the Youth Service in Rotherham together with Jane Hodson, Richard Steadman-Jones and Hugh Escott, from the English Department at the University of Sheffield, as well as David Hyatt, School of Education. The project focused on language in community contexts and included a research review of the literature on language and dialect in Rawmarsh, Rotherham as well as a community project to engage families and young people in creating stories, poems, films and other linguistic forms on the theme of language in the community.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description Creative Scotland investment grant
Amount £83,408 (GBP)
Funding ID CSL12-03808/LI12123 
Organisation Creative Scotland 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2013 
End 01/2014
Description Abertay and SEI York 
Organisation Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)
Country Sweden 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution partnership in research - ideas, innovations, new approaches to understanding urban spaces - particularly multiple function/benefits from green infrastructure
Collaborator Contribution new methods for data collection involving public participation, ideas stemmed from interactions during and after the Connecting Communities research agendas
Impact subsequent research bids and collaborations
Start Year 2010