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Nadja Klose working in a greenhouse Image courtesy of Nadja Klose
For Nadja, studying the MSc in Landscape and Wellbeing at ECA allowed her to bring together her interests in the natural environment, health and wellbeing, and travel in one degree programme.

Since graduating, Nadja has been able to implement the skills she acquired at ECA in a real-life setting through her role as a wellbeing coordinator in a nursing home. Alongside this, Nadja has been volunteering with Grow Wilder, an Avon Wildlife Trust conservation charity, learning about the conservation of natural habitats and species.

Why I chose to study MSc Landscape and Wellbeing

Coming from Germany, I first fell in love with Edinburgh during a visit in 2016 and I just knew I had to live there some day. After finishing my Bachelor of Arts in British Cultural Studies, I spent some months interning across Europe, before deciding to apply for graduate studies in a health-related field.

As someone with a passion for off-grid travel, I realised that spending time in natural environments had powerful positive effects on my own wellbeing and wanted to investigate this further. I was very excited when I found the MSc Landscape and Wellbeing programme at ECA which offered such a unique, innovative, interdisciplinary, relevant degree programme; and in my favourite city too. Applying was a no-brainer.

Landscape work
Plants in a bed

My time at ECA

I had a great time at ECA, even with the last three months of the degree being affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

I chose to complement the Landscape and Wellbeing core modules with modules in Encountering Health Humanities and Arts, Quantitative Data Analysis, Forests and Environments, and Positive Health for Individuals and Communities, expanding my interdisciplinary understanding of wellbeing and gaining insights into scientific research practices (which was quite a shift from my undergraduate humanities studies).

What I loved most about the programme were the site visits and the design project. Two visits in particular stood out to me: first, the visit to the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh; second, the visit to Maggie’s Centre Lanarkshire. Both visits opened my eyes to the importance of salutogenic environment design, particularly in healthcare settings. I was so impressed by Maggie’s that since then I have visited three more centres. I plan to visit them all in the future, and have registered as a volunteer with them.

The Landscape and Wellbeing design project consisted of re-designing parts of Union Canal with a focus on wellbeing. It was a lot of work, but I really enjoyed the creative process – I wish there had been more design modules available to take. It is one of my aspirations to get involved in biophilic design projects in the future.

If I had to start again, there would be little I would do differently. I had to take on a part-time job to support myself financially during my studies, which meant I didn’t get to experience as many of the extracurricular activities ECA had to offer. I wish I had been more active in societies and built more of a community; however, I absolutely loved my part-time job as a personal assistant for a man with advanced multiple sclerosis, which taught me much about health and wellbeing, accessible environments and resilience. The job inspired me to base one of my assignments on the potential salutogenic effects of indoor botanical gardens on those with multiple sclerosis.

"I want to continue learning about and using my skills for the wellbeing of humanity and the planet, which are, in my opinion, intrinsically linked."

Nadja Klose

Landscape and Wellbeing - MSc alumna

My experiences since graduating

I chose this programme because I was very curious about the subject, not because I had a specific career in mind (and I still don’t). I want to continue learning about and using my skills for the wellbeing of humanity and the planet (which are, in my opinion, intrinsically linked).

Since graduation, I have taken courses in Planetary Health (led by the Planetary Health Academy) and in The Science of Wellbeing (led by Yale University) which wonderfully complemented what I had learnt in the Landscape and Wellbeing programme at ECA, and I have subsequently become interested in the philosophy of Effective Altruism.

I moved to Bristol and took on the role of wellbeing coordinator in a nursing home where I have received dementia and safeguarding training. I wanted to see how I could apply my knowledge about salutogenic environments and therapeutic activities in practice, and I also wanted to work directly with service users.

Over the past few months, I have been able to involve the residents in different nature-based activities, such as seed-planting, tea-making, bird-feeding and olfactory stimulation, which they have really enjoyed.

While my knowledge is an asset in my current role, I have learnt a lot about the barriers to ‘green care’ – access to quality green spaces in institutional care is still not considered essential. The garden at the nursing home I work at is, in my opinion, unfit for purpose. I was able to undertake a Garden Risk Assessment and suggest changes that would make the garden safer and more enjoyable, especially for those residents with mobility issues or dementia. I have been able to implement small changes, such as creating a herb garden and planting wildflowers, but major changes are needed to make the garden truly salutogenic.

Since my move to Bristol, I have also been volunteering with Grow Wilder, an Avon Wildlife Trust conservation charity, learning more about the conservation of natural habitats and species.

My advice to new and current students

To someone just starting out in September, I would say: be curious! Explore what the University of Edinburgh has to offer – take a module or two outside your comfort zone, explore the different (and stunning) campuses, join some societies (especially if you come from a country where university societies are not as common). Get involved where you can, but remember to rest, too. Plus, check out the lunch menu at the ECA Café. Most importantly, Edinburgh has some wonderful green and blue spaces – don’t forget to visit them.

To someone graduating this year, I would say stay open-minded and be prepared for rejection, especially from decision-makers and those providing funding. In my experience so far, they don’t necessarily care about the decades of research and mounting evidence that ‘green’ is indeed good for you.

Associated programmes