The Department of Science, Natural Resources and Outdoor Studies currently runs research activity in two distinct areas; The Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas, and Experiential Learning in the Outdoors. We are dedicated to producing high-quality research that informs both teaching and positive change in the natural world.

Centre for National Parks and Protected Areas (CNPPA)

An international and national centre of excellence for the trans-disciplinary study of national park and protected area management – developing sustainable solutions to global challenges 

Set in the heart of the Lake District in Ambleside, the University of Cumbria is the only university in the world based within a national park. It is therefore in a unique position to be home to the Centre for National Parks. This is reinforced by the Lake District’s pending application with UNESCO for World Heritage status as a cultural landscape.

The Centre undertakes research into all aspects of National Park and protected area sustainability and leadership and builds on fourteen years of research experience conducting world class research on wildlife conservation around the globe. In the past the centre has focussed primarily on conservation and animal behaviour/management issues, and more recently has a greater emphasis on trans-disciplinary, holistic approaches to conservation and protected area management, including issues such as climate change, sustainable development and food security. This applied research feeds directly into our teaching, enabling us to use ‘real-world scenarios’ to enhance the students experience and offer opportunities for placements, applied field work and dissertation research.

The Centre continues to evolve to focus on world class academic excellence with a global reach, the purpose of which is to inform and influence policy and governance, develop best practice through innovation of resource use and promote knowledge transfer.

We work collaboratively with other universities, national parks and other bodies responsible for supporting protected areas to develop and learn from real world research and applied practice, both overseas and in the UK.

The University of Cumbria has a strong reputation with respect to National Parks due to its research and teaching in science and natural resources, outdoor studies, business and sustainable leadership, health and well-being and education. This multi-disciplinary approach is central to the aims of the Centre and is embodied within the existing key strands of research:

Bringing this knowledge and expertise to the Centre will enable it to address effectively the many critical issues relating to the management of national parks and other protected areas in the 21st Century.

Against this background, the Centre aims to become:

“An international and national centre of excellence for the trans-disciplinary study of national park and protected area management – developing sustainable solutions to global challenges”

For more information about the Centre please contact:

Experiential Learning in the Outdoors

Outdoor Studies has been a subject at the university and its legacy institutions for over fifty years. The research group works with international, national and local research needs in outdoor education, recreation, wellbeing and human nature relations, making best use of the location and Cumbrian needs and interests, and promoting research-led teaching and learning.

The group host the Outdoor Learning Research Hub national centre and  the NW Outdoor Learning Research Hub which is  part of a network that are coordinated by the University of Cumbria in partnership with the Institute for Outdoor Learning. The research team also have significant international collaborations involving partner universities in Norway, Germany, Australia and Canada. Members of the group currently sit on various editorial teams for relevant journals and take part in private research oriented consultancy. Details of our publications can be found on Insight.

Current research activity falls into four main areas; Citizenship and Environment, Outdoor Education, Health and Environment and Outdoor Recreation. This is supported by a growing number of PhD students and research assistants.

The institute looks to work collaboratively with other internal research hubs and centres in the university, the Brathay Research Hub, the Learning Away Consortium and the European Outdoor Education Network.

Read more about our research