Jo Birch is a Research Associate in the Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Sheffield. Beginning as a geographer, Birch has worked within and across many disciplines exploring how people’s lives are spatial, material and place-based. She studied for a BA(Hons) degree at the University of Warwick, then worked as a teacher before completing a PhD at Durham University in Environmental Education.
Birch recently completed research exploring how urban nature supports the mental wellbeing of city residents, focusing on cultures and values of nature and health as part of the Improving Wellbeing Through Urban Nature (IWUN) project, which was funded by the Valuing Nature Programme and administered by NERC (2016-2019). Currently, She is a Researcher Co-Investigator studying co-produced and community-led urban flood resilience. MAGIC (Mobilising Adaptation – Governance of Infrastructure through Coproduction) is a Climate Resilience Programme project administered by NERC (2020-2022).
Much of her work considers processes of co-production and co-design, often involving young people and other marginalised groups. She seeks to understand the physical spaces they need and value, recognising them as agents of their own lives and of wider social change. Through the course of my research, Birch has come to view relationships between people and the non-human world as important in their mutual wellbeing. Her aim is to bring these relationships to the attention of those working within academic, professional and community contexts.