Skip to Content

Outdoor Living Project - Macquarie University

Outdoor spaces in the community

In 2012, Macquarie University initiated a pilot study exploring the impact of outdoor places on student learning. The findings indicated that students "who frequented outdoor campus places and made use of the facilities and the landscape, were afforded opportunities for holistic and transformative learning that contributed to a sense of well-being and belonging." Macquarie University has since expanded the study to include the City of Ryde, given its similar focus on outdoor spaces as evident with the development of the Integrated Open Space Plan. Today, the study continues to expand and now looks broadly at the use of outdoor places throughout the greater Sydney basin area.

The project aims to explore and document the unique qualities of outdoor places in the Sydney community and explore how they are used and valued by residents. Submissions to The Outdoor Living Project may be selected for inclusion in an upcoming book and/or gallery exhibition.

Macquarie University campus How you can get involved

Tell us through a short written description and photograph/s how the outdoor places in Sydney contribute to your everyday life.

What to do:

  1. Take a photo (s) of one or more outdoor places located in the Sydney area that you use on a regular basis. This can range from a community garden that you help grow to the park where you enjoy your morning run or even to the outdoor plaza where you have your coffee. All outdoor spaces can be included.
  2. Photographs can be as professional or as simple as you like. Preferably, high resolution photographs allow for quality printing but snaps taken on your phone are fine too.
  3. Write a short description(s) of between 50 and 150 words depicting what the outdoor place(s) is and how you use it. Please also include some of the benefits (or disadvantages) you gain from using the outdoor space(s).
  4. Complete the online application form and upload both your photo(s) and description(s) via the online form. You must read and agree to the Consent Form before submitting your entry.
  5. To see if your location is eligible for submission, feel free to refer to the map on this link:


Submit your application

Submission Criteria:

To participate in this research project you must be living in the greater Sydney area and be over 18 years of age.

For information about the project and to register your interest please email:

Research Findings, Exhibition and Book

The research team will present the general research findings to the local community and research participants at the end of the project. With your permission, the photographs will also be included in a purpose built photographic exhibition and/or book published at Macquarie University.

 Privacy clause: Your personal details will only be accessible by the research team. They will not be released to Ryde Council or the local community without your permission.


Please contact for any enquiries.

The ethical aspects of this study have been approved by the Macquarie University Human Research Ethics Committee. If you have any complaints or reservations abut any ethical aspect of your participation in this research, you may contact the Committee through the Director, Research Ethics (telephone (02) 9850 7854; email Any complaint you make will be treated in confidence and investigated, and you will be informed of the outcome.

Electronic Information and Consent

Project Title

How do people living in the suburb of Ryde use and value the outdoor places within their community?

Project Description & Aims

You are invited to participate in a study, which explores your use and experiences of outdoor places in the area of Sydney. Research demonstrates that the outdoor environment is declining as an arena voluntarily inhabited by people of all ages. By giving more attention to outdoor places through this study, participants may not only learn more about their surroundings but also about themselves. Practical examples of how residents are using local outdoor places will also offer opportunities for those responsible for managing outdoor places to make informed decisions when designing processes to ensure the protection and sustainability of local ecosystems.

The study is being conducted by:

Dr Trudy Ambler
(Chief Investigator)

Faculty of Arts

Phone: 02 9850 7938

Dr Greg Robertson

Department of Education

Phone: 02 9850 9849

Steve Bailey

Student Well-being

Phone: 02 9850 9493

Veronica Monro
(Research Assistant)

Faculty of Arts

Phone: 02 9850 7938

Participant Activities

As a participant you will be invited to submit a short description (100 to 150 words) and to take a photograph/s of the outdoor places in Sydney that contribute most to your everyday life. The research findings will be made available to interested members of the local Sydney community and research participants. The photographs and descriptions will also be included in a purpose built photographic exhibition and/or book publication about the research. 

What's in it for you? Participation in this research project will help you to become engaged in the life of the Sydney community and you will also be able to gain an increased understanding of the ways in which your life is influenced by your connection with outdoor places.

Discussions will be held with you and other participants to talk about the proposed photographic exhibition and book publication. Researchers will negotiate with each participant whether or not they would like their name to be included in the exhibition and/or book.

Time and remuneration

We anticipate that all activities you will be involved in for this research will take approximately 1 hour of your time (however this is dependent on the amount of time you choose to invest taking photographs and writing narratives). Your narrative and photographs should be submitted to

Research Results

A summary of the results of the data will be made available on the project website located at Reports generated from the data will be shared among the Macquarie University and wider academic community through presentations and publications.


Any information or personal details gathered in the course of the study are confidential (except as required by law and/or negotiated with each participant). No individual will be identified in any publication of the results. Only the researchers and research assistant will have access to the data. All data will be securely stored, and will be held for a minimum of 5 years from last publication, after which time it will be destroyed.

Participation in this study is entirely voluntary: you are not obliged to participate and if you decide to participate, you are free to withdraw at any time without having to give a reason and without consequence. Your participation and/or withdrawal from this research will in no way affect your academic standing or relationship with Macquarie University.

By submitting your work through this electronic form (below) on the website you are agreeing to participate in the Outdoor Learning Places research, knowing that you can withdraw from further participation in the research at any time without consequence.