Skip to main content Accessibility information

Dr Tracy Ann Hayes

Senior Lecturer

School of Education

01752 636700

Tracy Hayes, lecturer at Plymouth Marjon University

Role Summary

Tracy joined Plymouth Marjon University in September 2022, from the University of Cumbria, where she lived and worked for 10 years. Prior to this, she was based in the Midlands, where she was employed as training manager for an association of youth clubs. Her doctoral research creatively explored the relationship that young people have with the natural environment. She has published for public, practitioner and academic audiences, including BERA (British Educational Research Association) and IOL (Institute of Outdoor Learning). Tracy has a diverse range of practical and professional experiences through working in and researching with the voluntary and statutory sectors. She loves walking, gardening, reading – and playing outdoors. 


PhD - Transdisciplinary Research in Outdoor Studies (Lancaster University)

Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (University of Cumbria)

MA Youth Work (JNC) and Community Development (ESB) (De Montfort University)

Diploma in Teaching (14+) in Lifelong Learning and Skills (DTLLS) (MKLC Training)

Certificate (Level 6) in Leadership and Management (Chartered Management Institute)

Certificate (postgrad) in Education for Sustainability (London South Bank University)

BSc (Hons) in Natural Sciences (The Open University)


I teach on a range of modules across the YCW programmes, including:

  • Professional placements - undergraduate and postgraduate
  • Research methods
  • Practitioner research - dissertations
  • Participatory group work

I also supervise Doctoral researchers on a range of topics related to my research approaches and interests (see below). 


Main Research Approach and Methodology

  • Transdisciplinary/Interdisciplinary qualitative research.
  • Creative, narrative and participatory approaches including auto/ethnography, auto/biography and action research.

Main Subject/Interest Areas

  • Youth, Young People and Communities, with a focus on SEN/D and inclusion
  • Outdoor play and Playfulness
  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Nature: Human – non-human/more-than-human relationships; Conservation education
  • Geographies of children, youth and families
  • Safeguarding and child protection; Personal, Professional, Reflective and Inclusive Practice

Current Collaborative Research (last 5 years)

Intergenerational responses to climate change and biodiversity loss (2022) Lead author for collaborative research project, bringing together and sharing findings and methods from a range of projects across the country through conference presentations and publications. Open access journal article In it together! Cultivating space for intergenerational dialogue, empathy and hope in a climate of uncertainty, available here.

Prism Arts Collaborative Research (2021-2) Researcher and co-author for dissemination activities (including oral and written presentations) on ‘A Picture of Me’. This was an ACE (Arts Council of England) funded project, which enabled Prism Arts to pilot a new way of working that puts the voices of learning disabled and or autistic people at the centre of creative approach, enabling participants to discover and share their own story. 

Therapeutic Horticulture and Therapeutic Agriculture (2021-22) Co-researcher and lead author for collaborative applied research into therapeutic horticulture and agriculture as supports for vulnerable young people’s wellbeing. This was funded by National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) North-East-North-Cumbria (NENC), under the Inequalities and Marginalised Communities theme. Report available here 

Cumbria County Council Youth Consultation: Copeland Youth Activities (2021) Co-researcher and co-author for consultation and report commissioned by Cumbria County County through Cumbria University to consult young people about the provision of youth activities to shape the council’s strategic plans. Final report: Stuart, K. and Hayes, T. (2021). “Just something to do!” Cumbria: University of Cumbria.

Community engagement for conservation programme (2019) Commissioned to develop the evaluation strategy for community engagement during the development phase of the Back On Our Map (BOOM) project supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Details of the BOOM project available here

We’re ALL in the Wild (2016) Commissioned by Plantlife to develop a toolkit for practitioners working with young people outdoors. We’re ALL in the Wild: An inclusive guide to supporting young people with SEND to discover their local outdoor spaces. Wiltshire: Plantlife. Prior to joining higher education in 2014, Tracy led practical environmental youth volunteering programmes at local, regional and national levels, summarised here


Peer Review Journals

Hayes, T.A. et al (2022) In it together! Cultivating space for intergenerational dialogue, empathy and hope in a climate of uncertainty, Children's Geographies [open access] 

Hayes, T.A. (2020). ‘We’re ALL in the Wild: Inclusive, creative ways to support young people to discover local outdoor spaces.’ Impact. London: The Chartered College of Teaching.

Hayes, T.A. (2018). Dr Bear and the Adventure Bears, a response to Horton, J. (2017). ‘For the love of cuddly toys’, Viewpoint, Children’s Geographies.

Teaching/Practitioner articles and presentations (peer reviewed)

Hayes, T.A. and Murphy, C. (2022). Searching for Fairies Outdoors. Horizons, 97, 34-38.

Hayes, T.A. and Tremble, S. (2022). Magic Moments: Noticing Magic Moments Outdoors. Horizons, 96, 33-36.

Hayes, T.A. (2021). Finding Joy and Hope: Taking time to ask and making time to listen. Horizons, 95, 12-14.

Larmour, C.; Larmour, L. and Hayes, T.A. (2021. Craft Elicitation: Connecting and finding meaning through craft. BERA Blog. London: British Educational Research Association. Available here 

Hayes, T.A., Leather, M. and Passy, R. (Eds.) (2021). Wellbeing and being outdoors: BERA Blog Special Issue. London: British Educational Research Association. Available here 

Hayes, T.A. and Leather, M. (Eds.) (2021). ‘The serious side of nature, outdoor learning and play: International perspectives.’ Research Intelligence Special Issue. London: British Educational Research Association.     

Hayes, T.A. and Leather, M. (2021). ‘More than fun and games – the serious side of learning in nature’, In Pugh, V. A curriculum for Wellbeing: Improving all aspects of wellbeing in curricula & schools. British Curriculum Foundation (BCF). Available here 

Hayes, T.A. and Leather, M. (2020). Shifting Perspectives on Nature through Pedagogical Practices [webinar]. 28 October 2020. Available here

Hayes, T.A. and Leather, M. (2020). The Importance of Nature: before, during and after Covid-19. Part of series: The Impact of Covid-19. [Podcast] 8 July 2020. Available here 

Hayes, T.A. and Leather, M. (2020). More than fun and games – the serious side of learning in nature. Part of event A curriculum for Wellbeing, British Curriculum Foundation (BCF). [online] Available here 

Hayes, T.A. and Leather, M. (2019). ‘Encouraging educational research into nature, outdoor learning and play’. BERA Blog, 17 June 2019. Available here  

Hayes, T.A. and Leather, M. (2019). ‘New BERA SIG: Nature, Outdoor Learning and Play’, Research Intelligence. London: British Educational Research Association.

Book chapters (peer reviewed)

Hayes, T.A. (2021). ‘The practicalities of researching creatively’, in von Benzon, N.; Holton, M.; Wilkinson, C. and Wilkinson, S. Creative Methods for Human Geographers. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.

Hayes, T.A. (2020). ‘I thought… I saw… I heard…: the ethical and moral tensions of auto/biographically opportunistic research in public spaces’, in Barker, J. and Wainwright, E. (section eds) in Parsons, J. and Chappell, A. (eds) The Palgrave MacMillan Handbook of Auto/Biography. London: Palgrave MacMillan. 

Hayes, T.A.; Prince, H. and Convery, I. (2019). ‘Bear Illustrations in Children’s Literature’, in Nevin, O.; Convery, I.; Davis P. and Kitchin, J. (eds). The Bear: A Cultural and Natural Heritage. Suffolk: Boydell & Brewer Ltd - ‘Heritage Matters’ Series.

Hayes, T.A. and Prince, H. (2019). ‘Shared-story approaches in Outdoor Studies: the HEAR (Hermeneutics, Auto/Ethnography and Action Research) ‘listening’ methodological model’ in Humberstone, B. and Prince, H. (eds) Research Methods in Outdoor Studies. Oxford: Routledge.

LEAD EDITOR: Hayes, T.A. (2019). ‘Sharing Stories: An Interactive, Interdisciplinary Approach’, in Hayes, T.A.; Edlmann, T. and Brown, L. Storytelling: Global Perspectives on Narrative. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill - ‘At the Interface/Probing the Boundaries’ Series.

Hayes, T.A. (2019). ‘Developing an academic identity: What’s the time Mrs Wolf?’, in Fenby-Hulse, K.; Bayley, J.; Heywood, E. and Walker, K. (eds) Research Impact and the Early Career Researcher. Routledge - ‘Higher Education Studies’ Series. 

Hayes, T.A. (2017). ‘Kindness: caring for self, others and nature - who cares and why?’, in Horton, J. and Pyer, M. (eds). Children, young people and care. London: Taylor Francis.

Hayes, T. (2016). ‘Playful approaches to outdoor learning: Boggarts, Bears and Bunny Rabbits!’, in Horton, J. and Evans, B, (eds.) Play, Recreation, Health and Well Being, Vol.9 of Skelton, T. (ed.) Geographies of Children and Young People. Springer, Singapore.

Invited guest speaker: Hayes, T.A. and Horton, J. (2021). Reflective, autoethnographic and creative writing in research and practice: NOT an agenda for playful, reflective writing: sharing stories about trees, nature, ​nurture, childhood, memories, creativity, care, tears, laughter, loss, love, life, (un/up)rootedness, sadness, hope, hugs, stones… and maybe bears. University of South-Eastern Norway. [online].

Conference/Oral Presentations/Seminars and Workshop/Poster presentations

To date I have given more than 70 presentations at a range of international and national events; the most recent are itemised below. 

Hayes, T.A. and Leather, M. (2022). Moving Outdoors: Nature, Outdoor Learning and Wellbeing. BERA International Annual Conference, September 2022, Liverpool.

Hayes, T.A. (2022). All handloom weavers were men. I think NOT! Auto/ethnographic revelations whilst exploring my matrilineal line. RGS-IBG 2022 International AGM & conference, August 2022, Newcastle.

Hayes, T.A. and Nicol, R. (2022). Walking with [please insert here]: how autoethnographic walks enable us to consider the embodied relationship between people, place and planet. 9th International Outdoor Education Research Conference (IOERC), July 2022, Ambleside, Cumbria.

Hayes, T.A.; Hauxwell, L. and Parsons, K. (2021) Creative explorations into relationships with the outdoors. BERA International Annual Conference, September 2021 [online].

Hayes, T.A.; Christie, M.; Fell-Chambers, R. and Robb, M. (2021). Educating therapeutically in outdoor spaces. BERA International Annual Conference, September 2021 [online].

Hayes, T.A. and Lessner-Listiakova, I. (2021). Co-Convener/chair of GCYFRG sponsored session, Families on the edge: family experiences of location and marginalisation, RGS-IBG 2020 International AGM & conference, London [online].

Hayes, T.A., Parsons, K. and Walker, C. (2021) Co-Convener/chair of GCYFRG sponsored session, In it together! Intergenerational, creative responses to a climate of uncertainty, RGS-IBG 2020 International AGM & conference, London [online].  

Hayes, T.A. (2021). Crafting in a virtual space: words and pictures, Learning and Teaching Fest: Sustaining our Development in Digital Learning, Teaching and Student Support, UoC, 7th July 2021

Hayes, T.A. (2021). Playing with words... connecting through story. Series of Themed Events, CRIHS and LED, University of Cumbria.

Hayes, T.A. (2021). Learning for/with Nature: The pedagogy and practice of teaching Natural History in England. Mini-keynote presentation. TEAN annual conference, round-table discussion [online], May 2021.

ORCiD profile 

Academia profile

Expert Membership of professional bodies

Current Professional Affiliations and Memberships 

  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA).
  • Certified Member of the Institute for Youth Work (IYW).
  • Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS).
  • Member of British Education Research Association (BERA); Convener of Nature, Outdoor Learning and Play (NOLAP) Special Interest Group (SIG); Member of Creativities in Education SIG.
  • Member of the European Institute for Outdoor Adventure Education and Experiential Learning (EOE).
  • Member of the Professional Association of Lecturers in Youth and Community Work.

Roles on external bodies

Tracy is a convenor of the Nature, Outdoor Learning and Play special interest group at BERA (British Educational Research Association) and a Fellow of the RGS (Royal Geographical Society). 

From January 2023, Tracy is a Trustee of Prism Arts in Cumbria

Share this page on