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 Rachel Manning

Rachel Manning

PhD Research Student

 Amory 360


Amory Building, University of Exeter, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4RJ , UK


Coming from a background in education, my research interests have developed to move towards a focus on Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). I am interested in how education, both formal and informal can help develop sustainable competencies in individuals. I am also interested in ways we can reconnect people to our natural surroundings and the benefits that arise from this, in turn linking this into developing effective education for positive social change.

I graduated from Plymouth University with a BA in Education Studies with Outdoor Education. Having discovered my interested in ESD I went on to complete an MSc in Learning for Sustainability. In my research, I worked closely with The Centre for Sustainable Futures to assess the effectiveness of their informal learning programmes in developing key competencies of ESD in students. 

Following on from my MSc I worked again with The Centre for Sustainable Futures on an ongoing research project ‘What happens to the sustainably educated’. The research aims to gain a deeper understanding of the sustainability education work at Plymouth University, beyond the traditional student experience and develop a long term understanding of ESD teaching and learning approaches.

I am currently undertaking a PhD at Exeter University, in partnership with The Field Studies Council, exploring the role and potential of environmental and experiential education in enhancing wellbeing. My work is focusing on gathering student’s perspectives on environmental education to understand the mediators of positive and negative emotions in residential environmental education, drawing from theories of social constructivism and the capabilities approach.

Broad research specialisms:

Education for Sustainable Development, Outdoor Learning, Environmental Education, Experiential Education, Systems Thinking, Nature Connection, Sustainability in Higher Education, Informal and Formal Learning


BA Education Studies
MSc Learning for Sustainability


Research projects

Project Title: Exploring the role and potential of environmental and experiential learning in enhancing well being

Supervisors: Dr Ewan Woodley, Dr Jon Cinnamon, Prof Stewart Barr

Funding Body: Field Studies Council and Exeter University

Project Description:
This project aims to explore the role and potential that environmental education can play in enhancing wellbeing, particularly through residential educational experiences and social learning. In particular, the student will explore the role of different pedagogic practices in promoting wellbeing and will examine the sustainability of such impacts. Using Slapton Ley Field Centre and National Nature Reserve (South Devon) as a case study, the research will explore the underlying pedagogic discourses of ‘field experiences’ and their connections to evolving forms of social practice developed by visitors to field studies centres, and through experiential learning more generally.

The project will address the following objectives:

  • To explore the ways in which the concept of well-being is manifested within experiential learning practices at the FSC through primary empirical research, using volunteer ethnography and in-depth interviews.
  • To explore the types of well-being associated with experiential learning at FSC Slapton through visitor surveys and follow-up interviews.
  • To understand the role and impact of experiential learning in promoting practical strategies for enhancing well-being within environmental education


Supervision / Group

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