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How can urban green spaces be maintained and managed to encourage social interactions?


Green spaces in an urban city are important for many purposes. One is that they can generate and increase social interaction between people from different backgrounds, which in turn can make an impact on social sustainability. Shelley Kotze, PhD student in Human geography will take a closer look at the planning of urban green spaces within the framework of her PhD project.

For urban green spaces to be sustainable in the long-term, their maintenance needs to be in the planning process. Shelley will be framing her studies as a critical exploration of the process of planning of urban green space; this includes how the ongoing management and maintenance of said space is considered and written into the planning process, and how well that is translated into action.

- I hope that a better understanding of this process will contribute to the better management of urban green space, in that it actually reflects the plans which municipalities spend so much public money on, says Shelley Kotze.

It is not only the social interaction that can benefit from well-functioning green spaces. There is also the dynamics of the importance of public green space and outdoor recreation in Sweden alongside the growing interest on urban green space as an area, which can provide climate change education and mitigation.

About Shelley Kotze

Shelley KotzeShelley is from Devon, in the UK. She moved to Cape Town, South Africa in 2010 to live with her husband, and then to Sweden in 2017. She recently started her PhD education at the Unit for Human geography at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg. She has a BA Honors (First class) Geography and Education Studies from Exeter University, and MSc Geography (Cum Laude) from University of South Africa.

Shelley’ research interest is looking at interactions between people and place, predominantly social interactions within urban green spaces. She has also been working on issues of immigrant integration, gender mainstreaming in projects and the influence of trust on project building.

Finding her place in Sweden

Shelley came to Sweden since her husband got a job here, and they now live with their family just outside Gothenburg. It is her first visit to Sweden and she is adjusting to the new environment. As an international PhD student, she is looking forward to develop her 'Swedish knowledge'. She will be working with Swedish policy, professionals and doing case studies, so it is not just learning the language, it is learning about the novelties and nuances as well as new customs and traditions.

- Sweden is very different to South Africa (and England) in so many ways, but many of the social issues are so similar. I am slowing finding my place in Sweden. Right now the darkness is a bit hard to get accustomed to. It is just much easier to feel at home on warm sunny day, says Shelley Kotze.