The power of participatory video

The power of participatory video: an unexpected outcome!

As researchers, we never expected the outcomes of our research on participatory video with young people in central Scotland. We initially wanted to find out from them what they thought about their local greenspaces using their own voices. And, yes, we did indeed learn about their views and experiences of greenspaces, which were unfortunately largely negative. The films they created showed this through scenes of bullying and violence. The young people wanted to show people how dangerous greenspaces can be and hoped that these spaces would change and get better for people. 

Participatory video is a set of techniques to involve a group of people in creating their own film. We used an adapted version developed by InsightShare.


However, what surprised us the most was the positive impact the participatory video had on young people’s views of nature. It also helped their self-confidence, sense of empowerment and agency. 

The filming process enabled them to ‘look deeper into nature’. It helped them connect with nature in new, more empathetic ways.  This emotional connection with nature, particularly with wildlife, is important in developing pro-environmental behaviour. A young person told us how the experience of filming a roe deer had a profound effect on them: 

‘It was the deer that really opened up my eyes… If I litter right now, the deer can eat the plastic, which would cause it to die, and that’s not right. They have… they have feelings, they have many things. What we feel, they feel as well. If we feel pain, they feel pain.’

The power of participatory video

Pixabay License – free for commercial use, no attribution required.

This same person said that the participatory video project had led them to totally change their view of nature and how they could benefit from it. It also led them to change their behaviour: they now stop their siblings from littering, walk to school through the park instead of taking the bus, and use greenspace to relax during exam time. This young person had previously never been for a walk in their local green space. The process also helped young people increase their confidence and sense of agency. Another young person told us how she would have never got upfront of an audience previously to present her work. The participatory video process gave her the confidence to do so.

Our research shows that participatory video can help young people engage with local greenspaces, build agency, develop a connection to nature, and adopt pro-environmental behaviours. All these are believed to be critical in halting the trend in biodiversity loss.

About the authors

Antonia Eastwood and Alba Juárez-Bourke

Alumni of InsightShare trainings

Antonia and Alba work as researchers at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen, Scotland. Antonia is an interdisciplinary scientist with an interest in participatory research that enables positive outcomes for nature and human wellbeing. Alba’s interests include people’s connection to nature, and the use of creative methods for understanding as well as supporting these interactions.

To find out more about our research please contact us on

A copy of our research article can be found here.

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