With permission of the school administration, parents of the Bulkley Valley Christian School are invited to participate in a field study concerned with the relationship between attention to natural kinds of things and attention to artifacts or other results of human intentions. The study is being conducted by Ray Chipeniuk, now retired as an associate professor in the School of Environmental Planning at the University of Northern British Columbia but currently still an adjunct professor in the School of Planning and Sustainability at UNBC.

In recent times researchers have established that the experience of semi-natural landscapes promotes mental health.  In cities around the world, rates of clinical depression have risen to around 40%, so the potential benefits of exposure to “nature” may be very large.  The purpose of the present study is to increase scientific understanding of how mixing artifacts into semi-natural landscapes affects people’s experience of being in such landscapes.  Eventually, perhaps, findings from Dr. Chipeniuk’s study will figure in park planning.  (Ray is a Ph.D. in Regional Planning and Resource Development, and planning is, in part, a cognitive science.)

Dr. Chipeniuk would like participants in the study to spend about one hour apiece walking an easy trail at the Canyon Creek Ski Trails site about 25 km east of Smithers in the Babine Mountains.  As they walk, they will note down on a form the natural kinds of things and the kinds of artifacts which come to their attention.  At the end of the walk, which is about 500 m long, they will drop their completed form into a lock-box at the rec site cabin. The form asks for an email address but otherwise participants will be completely anonymous.  For statistical reasons, only one parent per household may fill out the form.  

In return for the contribution volunteers make to the study, Dr. Chipeniuk will donate $10 to the BV Christian School for each completed form he receives from participating parents, up to a total of $500. The offer will be good till the end of June, and the School may wish to use the funds for some student project.

At the end of the study, Dr. Chipeniuk will provide a summary of results to the BV Christian School administration for posting on its Web site.  In addition, he will email a file for the summary to the email addresses the participants have provided.  Ultimately, Dr. Chipeniuk will submit an article on the study to a peer-reviewed academic journal such as Environment and Behavior.  (Some of Dr. Chipeniuk’s published articles are freely available over the Web just by googling his name.)

Parents interested in learning more about this invitation are welcome to contact Ray at chipeniuk@xplornet.com or Raymond.Chipeniuk@unbc.ca.  Ray is a long-term resident of the Bulkley Valley.

Canyon Creek — Form for walk — April 26