On 1 January 2012, Dr A.E. van den Berg became professor by special appointment in Experiencing and Valuing Nature and Landscape at the Faculty of Spatial Sciences (FRW) of the University of Groningen. The founding of a chair in Experiencing and Valuing Nature and Landscape comes at a time when there is wide general concern about the violation of nature and landscape values. With Van den Berg as the holder of the chair, the Netherlands has gained an active advocate for more academic research into the consequences of these developments for the health and wellbeing of people.
Agnes van den Berg (Apeldoorn, 1967) studied experimental psychology at the University of Groningen and gained a PhD in 1999 from the same university with research on how nature development areas are experienced. In 1997 she moved to Wageningen to work as an environmental psychologist at the Alterra knowledge institute. With the publication of the essay ‘Van buiten word je beter’ [Fresh air makes you healthy] in 2001, she moved the importance of nature for the health of the public high up the social and scientific agenda. Since 2003, Van den Berg has been combining her applied research at Alterra with an academic appointment at Wageningen University. Within the NWO project ‘Vitamin G’ (where G stands for green), she is working on the scientific basis of the relationship between green in the living environment and health. She also plays an active role in the translation of academic knowledge of the experience of nature and health into practical advice and guidelines. She regularly gives presentations and interviews on themes including the importance of nature for the development of children, the contribution paid by gardening to healthy ageing, and designing with how it will be experienced in mind.
The chair has been funded by the National Fund for Rural Areas, founded in 1994 by the government to facilitate activities in the field of nature, woodlands and landscape. The position is for 0.2 FTE and is with the Department of Cultural Geography at FRW.
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