Virtual Workshop


Nature, Health and Digital: Transcending Borders of Exclusion Through Immersive Solutions


28. September 2020

9:00 – 12:00 UK time (UTC+1) 

Nature, Health and Digital:

The significance of the physical qualities of nature for the promotion of health and well-being, through healing places (Gesler 2003), therapeutic landscapes (Gesler 2005) or green and blue spaces, has been well established (cf. Rosenberg 2017a). However, not all socio-demographic groups in society have the capacity or resources to travel to these places for recreation or leisure. For example, it is known that elderly populations can experience increased social isolation as they spend up to 90% of their time indoors (Bamzar & Hous, 2016). Indeed, reduced access to recreational activities impacts people’s physical and emotional well-being, preventing them remaining active and connected in later life (Scottish Government, 2016). Recognising this and the benefits of access to nature on mental health and well-being for those who are socially isolated for a wide range of reasons, this workshop raises the question: What is the potential of digital representations of nature for the promotion of health and well-being? While some scholars postulate that our sensuous experience of place through the digital is restricted to the audio-visual dimension (Zook et al. 2004, Kellerman 2006), others underlined how an “imaginative” (Sheller and Urry 2006: 207), or “cognitive/imaginary” (Lemos 2008: 98) mobility enables the “imaginary sensuous perception of place” (Bork-Hüffer 2016: 2164). It has further been pronounced that our sense of place and nature are increasingly (co-)produced through entangled, interdependent and conflating ONline and OFFline spaces (cON/FFlating spaces, Bork-Hüffer and Yeoh 2017). This quality of the Internet and digital media becomes ever more significant through extended reality technologies (AR, MR, VR) and their digital representations of place and nature. At the same time, differences not only in the physical and material access, but also the operational, formal, informational and communication skills needed for making an effective use of the internet and digital technologies result in digital inequalities between individuals, groups and regions (van Djik 2012, Kleine & Poveda 2017). In this virtual workshop we will discuss this question on the basis of different empirical and theoretical contributions. 

The links to the virtual conference room (zoom) are sent directly to the participants. You can  register as listener here until 24 September 2020.


Logo University of Innsbruck


This workshop is organised by


Tabea Bork Hüffer

Tabea Bork Hüffer

Universität Innsbruck

Caroline Scarles

Caroline Scarles

University of Surrey

David Sheffield

David Sheffield

University of Derby


The links to the virtual conference room (zoom) are sent directly to the participants.

You can still register here until 24 September 2020.


COVID-19 als Zäsur?

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9:00 (UTC+1)


 by Caroline Scarles & Tabea Bork-Hüffer


9:20 (UTC+1)

Panel 1: Health, Nature and Digital

digital shorts & discussion, moderation David Sheffield

Digital Shinrin-Yoku? Health Benefits of Virtual Reality Nature Surroundings

Gerhard REESE and Claudia MENZEL (University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany)

Investigating the Role of Simulated Natural Environments in the Effectiveness of a Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Programme

Eun Yeong CHOE (University of Sheffield, UK), Anna JORGENSEN (University of Sheffield) and David SHEFFIELD (University of Derby, UK)

It Feels Like My Feet are Getting Wet: Socialisation and Connectedness in Care Homes Through Virtual Encounters with Nature

Caroline SCARLES, Naomi KLEPACZ, Jean-Yves GUILLEMAUT, Susanne VAN EVEN and Michael HUMBRACHT (University of Surrey, UK)

VR Healing: Potentials of Virtual Healing Places for Therapeutic Interventions for Mobility-Impaired Adolescents

Tabea BORK HÜFFER (University of Innsbruck, Austria), Ibrahim DURAN (UniReha Cologne, Germany), Christina STARK (University Hospital Cologne) and Eckhardt SCHÖNAU (University Hospital Cologne and UniReha Cologne)

10:30 (UTC+1)

COVID-19 als Zäsur?


10:45 (UTC+1)

Panel 2: Leisure, Nature and Digital

digital shorts & discussion, moderation Tabea Bork-Hüffer

Immersive Engagements in the Digital Worlds of Static Cycling

Paul BARRATT (Staffordshire University, UK)

Logics of Affection and the Production of Encounter Value: Likes for Wildlife in Namibia

Nina SCHIEGL (University of Frankfurt, Germany)

Accessing Urban Open Spaces – Might Viewing them Suffice?

Anna-M. BOLTE and Theo KÖTTER (University of Bonn, Germany)

11:45 (UTC+1)

Closure of workshop

by Caroline Scarles


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