Explore UCD

UCD Home >
Young boy working in a community garden.
overlay image

Green Care: Policy and Practice


Subject Area Agriculture & Food Science
Credits 5
Start Date 09 September 2024
Duration 12 weeks
Mode of Delivery Online 
Course Leader (opens in a new window)Dr. Deirdre O’Connor


80% Learner Fee Subsidy (Please see below) 

Application Deadline 26 August 2024

There is a growing recognition that human interaction with natural environments helps address the current environmental and societal challenges, having positive benefits on stress-related, chronic and psychological diseases connected to urbanisation, modern lifestyles and working conditions. Natural spaces are increasingly being recognised as providing an opportunity to generate alternative and preventive health benefits. 

Green Care refers to the practice of using natural settings such as farms and forests to engage people in a range of activities related to agricultural production or maintenance of the landscape for the purpose of promoting physical and mental health, social inclusion or disease prevention.  It can address a diverse range of people including those with physical, intellectual, mental health or social challenges. Green Care initiatives can also support services in rural areas to groups such as children or the elderly.   

This micro-credential will examine the theory, practice, opportunities and policy context associated with the field of Green Care. It is designed to equip learners with an understanding of the emerging trends in Green Care and the tools to identify relevant opportunities and challenges. The focus is on fostering an understanding of the role of innovation and entrepreneurship in more integrated health and social care initiatives that have a connection to nature, natural resources and ecosystems. 

Dr Deirdre O’Connor provides an overview of the Green Care: Policy and Practice micro-credential at University College Dublin.

This micro-credential will be relevant for professionals in the health and wellness sectors, social workers, educators, volunteers, GPs and other healthcare professionals, community health workers, rural development bodies and agencies, farmers, career changers and anyone with an interest in the various benefits of Green Care.

It will also be helpful for those looking to reconnect with nature, and interested in exploring opportunities to use green spaces for health, well-being and social inclusion.

On completion of this micro-credential you will be able to:

  • Define what nature-based solutions are and explain why they are important for society, the economy and the environment.
  • Define the concept of Green Care and its contribution to people’s health, societal well-being and social inclusion.
  • Explain the influential theories on the impact of nature on human health and well-being.
  • Define the psychological and physiological mechanisms behind the benefits of human contact with nature.
  • Explain the key characteristics of Green Care initiatives with a focus on four thematic sectors: Forest-based care, Social agriculture, Urban Green Care and Green Care Tourism.
  • Identify the range of Green Care initiatives that are underway in various fields of application and different countries (with a special focus on the European Union), in terms of social functions, locations, target groups, actors and roles and business models.
  • Differentiate among different types of innovation and entrepreneurship (technological, institutional, social, etc.) and appreciate how they can be applied in Green Care initiatives in different contexts.
  • Recognise successful and challenging business development factors in Green Care initiatives.

   Topics that you will cover include:

  • Forest-based solutions in Green Care.
  • Social Farming.
  • Urban Green Care.
  • Green Care Tourism.
  • Market outlooks.
  • Legal and Policy Frameworks.
  • Entrepreneurship and Innovation Factors influencing the success of Green Care initiatives.

The micro-credential will draw on content developed within the EU Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliance Project Green4C (see (opens in a new window)https://www.greenforcare.eu/) in which UCD was a partner institution. It offers the unique opportunity to learn from some of  Europe’s leading experts in Green Care and to understand the emerging trends in Green Care markets.

Completing this micro-credential will help you to develop the requisite analytical and practical skills to design, implement and/or evaluate Green Care initiatives across a wide range of settings and contexts.

This micro-credential is delivered through the UCD online learning platform (Brightspace). This is a self-directed micro-credential designed for you to work through the material at your own pace as much as possible. You will need to meet the key assessment dates, but you can read the material and engage with the lectures as and when fits your schedule. 

You will learn in a variety of ways, through a mixture of autonomous learning, live online tutorials, peer interactions, and project-based learning. 

A discussion forum will enable peer-to-peer interactions and discussions.

A repository of resources will be available to support your learning, and as a UCD student, you will have full access to the library. 

This is a 5 ECTS micro-credential and involves approximately 100 hours of learner effort.

Applicants are required to hold an NFQ level 8 Honours degree (minimum 2nd Class Honours Lower) or equivalent.

Applicants who do not meet this requirement may be admitted on the basis of considerable relevant experience.

All applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis. 

Applicants whose first language is not English must demonstrate proof of English proficiency as per UCD's minimum English language requirements.

Assessments will be scheduled at times that vary over the trimester and will be submitted remotely through Brightspace. This will include participation in live online class activities, completion of online quizzes, learning journal activities, and a final written assignment.

Individual feedback will be provided to you on written assignments. You will also receive feedback during the live online practical tutorials taken over the course of the trimester.

Please note: Learners can avail of only one form of funding per application. 

Micro-Credentials Learner Fee Subsidy-Human Capital Initiative Pillar 3

The HCI Pillar 3 Micro-credential Learner Fee Subsidy has been introduced to enable more learners to address critical skills gaps and engage with lifelong learning through micro-credentials. The HCI Pillar 3 Micro-credential Learner Fee Subsidy is funded by Higher Education Authority (HEA) and the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. 

HCI Micro-credential Learner Fee Subsidies are available on identified micro-credentials only and in fixed numbers from March 2024 until October 2025.  

Please see Eligibility Criteria for further information.    

Key Features