• The Grateful Academic

Beautiful Campuses: Winter

Updated: Dec 23, 2021

Beauty /ˈbjuːti/ noun

A combination of qualities that pleases the senses


Winter is upon us and I find myself getting out my scarf and hat again to protect me from the bracing north wind. The trees around campus where I work are now bare, dormant and waiting for the new life that will come with the Spring. Sometimes I feel a little sad that the trees lose their leaves, but in so many ways these naked branches reveal some hidden wonders that were invisible before, like balls of mistletoe and carefully constructed birds nests, hidden from view for so long.


Again this week the weather predictions are for snow, and I tried to remember the last time I witnessed a White Christmas? I still get excited by the prospect of snow! I love the gentle covering and brightness it brings to the landscape and buildings - and of course it reminds me of building snowmen, making snow angels and having snowball fights, which I hope I never feel too old to enjoy!


Interestingly, some research suggests that snow and icy landscapes, promote not only healing effects, but also concerns of harm. In Jessica Finley's 2018 paper, ‘Walk like a penguin’, she explores the potential therapeutic effects of environmental snow and ice. In this article, she explores the parallels between the known health benefits and advantages of 'green' and 'blue' spaces, and whether these translate to the cold environment of snow and ice. Her findings show these 'white' spaces both promoted and diminished physical, mental, and social well-being, but overall positive experiences, such as pleasant walks in a snowy landscape and bonding with others, countered negative assumptions, such as mobility restrictions and vulnerability due to falls.


For me, especially with everything going on with COVID-19, outdoor spaces are hugely important to my wellbeing. I will definitely be taking the opportunity where I can, to wrap-up warm for a daily winter walk, knowing that I can indulge with a mince pie and a mug of hot tea on my return home.


Some of the UK has already experienced considerable snow this year, and some of the campus photos on social media have been breath-taking. Take a look at some of the photos submitted to thegratefulacademic.com.



Would you like to submit one of your photos of beautiful campuses on thegratefulacademic.com? Please contact us via DM on twitter at @gr8fulacademic


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Links to further reading:


Finlay JM (2018). ‘Walk like a penguin’: Older Minnesotans' experiences of (non)therapeutic white space. Social Science & Medicine 198, 77-84. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953617307542

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