Environment and Society
Mentor: Dr. Courtney Flint
Utah Wellbeing Study: Environment Insights
Wellbeing and the components that contribute to it have been of interest to humans as far back as time can tell. The literature on the facets of wellbeing has evolved in recent years to encompass a multitude of factors, including physical, mental, and emotional health; social connections; access to education and health services; and the role of landscapes and environmental quality, in addition to many other components. Further, the methods of evaluating individual and community wellbeing have also become more holistic in recent years. Instead of simply using quantitative, observational data such as the number of emergency room visits or the number of individuals obtaining a degree in a certain area to measure wellbeing, perceptual measures of wellbeing have become more popular. These measurements are obtained directly by asking individuals about their personal and community wellbeing. Information gleaned from social surveys and interviews is important for informing policymakers and community organizations about potential for areas of improvement in their community’s wellbeing. In order to improve understanding of perceptual wellbeing in Utah, a 5-year study funded by the Utah Agricultural Station began in 2018 with the goal of measuring perceptual wellbeing across a variety of Utah communities. To gain insight into potential areas of focus for the project, a pilot study was implemented in Logan and Salt Lake City in the spring and summer of 2018. The pilot study consisted of a series of multiple-choice questions completed via a short iPad survey at various community locations and the Utah State University campus and a series of open-ended interview questions. Preliminary findings from the pilot study, including geographical differences in the relationship between overall wellbeing and environment and landscape factors, will be addressed in the presentation. Additionally, information gained about the usefulness of perceptual wellbeing in decision-making through interviews with Utah policymakers, state employees, and representatives of Utah non-governmental organizations will be addressed.