Promoting health and climate protection with active mobility

Whether on foot, by bike, bus or train: This is the key to a climate-friendly and at the same time healthy mobility transition. Dr. Vivian Frick and her junior research group AMBER are investigating how this can be stimulated.

Environment and sustainability

The topics of environment and sustainability have accompanied Vivian Frick for as long as she can remember. When she decided to study psychology and political science, she also kept these interests in mind. Studying psychology was important to her in order to better understand how people think, feel and act. She always focused on the questions: How can people be motivated to live a sustainable life in harmony with nature? What does it take for people in the Global North to cut back on their consumption so that people in the Global South can also lead a good life? How do we motivate people to act sustainably not only as consumers but also as citizens in a democracy?
As a student, she was already involved in the Initiative Psychology in Environmental Protection (IPU) and the Swiss Association of Student Organizations for Sustainability (VSN). "Today, I continue to be involved with the IPU, the Association for Ecological Economic Research (VÖW), Solidarity Agriculture and other environmental organizations. Being politically and civically involved in sustainability is at least as important to me as, say, not flying or eating meat."

AMBER junior research group

She developed the idea for the research of the junior research group AMBER (Active Mobility for maintained Benefits of Health and Environment) with her colleague Dr. Jan Keller from the Free University of Berlin, as both had long been looking for suitable research opportunities to bring together environmental and health psychology. In the junior research group, competencies from health and environmental psychology, public health, meteorology and sustainability management complement each other. In an inter- and transdisciplinary research design, the junior research group works closely with corporate and civil society practice partners and a scientific advisory board.
"After all, many sustainable transformation paths, i.e. fundamental change, are also beneficial for health - and vice versa: you see this not only in active mobility, but also in nutrition, urban planning or climate change adaptation." Therfore Vivian Frick usually rides her bike to work, just like almost all of the employees at the Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IÖW), where she conducts the research with the junior research group.

Climate protection through active mobility

Even as a citizen, the results of her research are important to environmental and social psychologist Vivian Frick: She wants them not only to be heard politically, but also to be implemented. For example, citizens told her that dangerous points or heat islands in the city would discourage them from cycling or walking. This needs to be addressed with changes in the traffic concept or with more urban greening, according to Frick. "Citizens, as so-called change agents, can make a decisive contribution to the mobility turnaround through various measures and their own behavioral changes." She hopes that her research findings will lead to more movement, better air and a shared commitment to a more livable city.

AMBER and Career

The project is very important to Dr. Vivian Frick, as it allows her to explore a new research topic in depth and with a transdisciplinary team - the connection between health and sustainability, as well as the importance and possibilities of civic engagement in our society and in environmental protection - as part of a post-doctoral thesis. The cooperation with other research disciplines and practice partners in this BMBF funding program, as well as the long time horizon of five years, opened up a particularly large number of learning opportunities for sustainability research.
"Projects in third-party funded research often have very short project durations and less thematic freedom. In addition, it is great fun to exchange ideas with researchers from a wide range of disciplines and to accompany doctoral candidates on their scientific career paths."

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