Posts tagged ‘environmental psychology’

August 6, 2015

Dream Homes and the Idea of Happiness

I’ve recently re-read Alain de Botton’s Architecture of Happiness, a very popular book that deals with much of what I’m trying to learn about, though from a different, philosophic perspective. One of the book’s starting ideas  comes from another author: beauty is a promise of happiness, wrote Stendhal and de Botton discusses what this idea means in the world of  architecture. His interpretation is that we perceive a building as beautiful if we can imagine ourselves living happily in it.

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Dream homes for my students

I often wondered how to translate these kind of observations and ideas into research domain. An opportunity to investigate the relations between buildings, especially homes, and happiness came from my work in school. In a popular optional homework called „Buy a Home“ my students were supposed to go to a real estate search website and find a home they wanted to “buy”. There was no money limit, but it had to be a property they would be able to take care of on their own (no butlers and housemaids allowed, so they don’t drift too far from the reality).

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May 6, 2015

An Interview with Environmental Psychologist: Wil Whitfeld and his Path(s)

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Wil Whitfeld

Australian landscape architect Wil Whitfeld upgraded his design expertise by getting a Master’s Degree in environmental psychology at University of Surrey last year. Back in Sydney, where he recently started working at Oculus design studio, Wil eagerly accepted my proposition to do an interview about his study experience and the new insights it gave him. He also discusses his poetically titled dissertation research “Walking with your head in the clouds: The influence of pathway design on mindfulness, recall and affective state”, which he is presenting at this year’s EDRA conference in Los Angeles in less than a month.

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April 30, 2015

Environmental Psychology Related Online Courses – part V (Design, Architecture and Urbanism)

There are some interesting online courses about design, architecture and urbanism starting soon. Some are new and some are long-anticipated re-runs for me, since I missed previous sessions.  Here they are:

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Courses about design:

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April 29, 2015

Environmental Psychology Related Online Courses – part IV (Sustainability)

Sustainable development is a popular (and important) MOOC topic – I’m happy to notice that the updates to my Environmental Psychology Related Online Courses list are getting longer, mostly due to that topic. Here are some new (or newly discovered) options for learning about different aspects of sustainability:

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1. Introduction to Environmental Science at EdX

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January 19, 2015

Kindergarten Design: Buildings That Encourage Development

Pedagogical traditions seem to be very interested in the effects that environmental factors have on (small) people.  Over a century ago, some models like Montessori and Waldorf, which have influenced mainstream kindergarten practice as well, started promoting the idea that a great deal of attention should be put into the fabrics, the materials,  the colors and  the overall organization of spaces for children.

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Fuji kindergarten exterior; photo by 準建築人手札網站 Forgemind ArchiMedia

Since I work in a kindergarten as a psychologist one day a week, I recently had the opportunity to learn more about the psychology of spaces for children. Our small kindergarten was about to get a budget-friendly makeover and we were all asked for opinions. I spent a lot of time looking for research-based guidelines for kindergarten design, as well as coordinating everyone’s personal preferences. Here I would like to share some of the findings, and  some inspiring examples and other resources I found.

 

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October 14, 2014

Environmental Psychology Related Online Courses – part III (Sustainability)

The topic of how people affect the environment makes up one half of the environmental psychology’s story. It is a Yin to its Yang, the complimentary field to the topics of how the environment (both natural and built) affects us. Many studies in environmental psychology target the attitudes and behavior concerning sustainability and climate change, the big issues that transcend the limits of just one science. That is why the third part of my Environmental Psychology Related Online Courses series focuses specifically on these topics. It was very easy to find many promising courses, which is, I believe, due to the fact that many people find sustainability and climate change important and worth learning about. Here are my finds:

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introsus 1. Introduction to Sustainability at Coursera

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March 28, 2014

An Interview with Environmental Psychologist: Maggie Melin is Changing Habits

In my search for enthusiastic practitioners in the field of environmental psychology, the same name popped up behind several interesting projects.

Maggie Melin

Maggie Melin

Maggie Melin from Michigan, US, completed graduate degrees in urban planning and sustainability science from the University of Virginia and Lund University in Sweden, and her master thesis Active Learning as a Tool for Behaviour Change was inspired by a summer spent working on organic farms (WWOOF) in Italy.

Prior to her studies in Sweden she was running a blog with tips for making our bathrooms more eco-friendly (The Green Toilet) and also worked at the Green Infrastructure Center while living in Virginia. Currently she is active in promoting biking and walking in the United States at both The Alliance for Biking and Walking in Washington, DC and the Active Transportation Alliance in Chicago. The idea I associate with her name is well-expressed in the old saying  “…watch your habits for they become your character”. Maggie helps us watch our habits and change for the better.

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February 20, 2014

Environmental Psychology Related Online Courses – part II

I found 10  more online courses that could be interesting if you’re into environmental psychology (part I here). Some are about to start, some already started, some are self-paced and some are finished but materials are still available, so check out and find the one you like:

About design:

1. Intro to the Design of Everyday Things at Udacity;

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July 31, 2013

Environmental Psychology Related Online Courses

Something I was hoping for some time now is coming true. I’m very excited about the idea of free education available to all  that’s successfully being translated into action through web services such as Coursera and EdX (and other Massive online open courses). Since I work in education myself, I find it very inspiring to be able to”attend” lectures by different experts in different fields from all around the world. I realize again and again how much I love learning (and miss college sometimes) and often remember how some of the great professors I had throughout my education made a big impact on me by expanding my horizons and transferring their enthusiasm for their subjects to us students. This is why I often find myself trying to follow more online-courses than my time permits (and successfully finishing much less), but enjoying nonetheless.

by saikofish

University of Pennsylvania campus in fall; photo by saikofish

Only 3 months ago I was e-mailing to all the environmental psychology departments that offer doctoral programs which I wrote about before (at Surrey, Irvine, Brasilia, CUNY, Rome and Cornell) to ask if they were planning to  offer some environmental psychology related online courses . Most of them politely answered there wasn’t  any such plans for near future. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised to learn that among many online courses University of Pennsylvania provides through  Coursera, there’s a new one about Designing Cities  that could be interesting to anyone who likes environmental psychology.

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March 25, 2013

Great Places to Get a PhD in Environmental Psychology: #3 The World’s Crossroads

Even though small towns and pre-planned communities I wrote about before offer an interesting context for any environmental psychologist, the appeal of big cities is undeniable. That’s why I’ll research options for a PhD in environmental psychology in two capitals of the world – one traditional and one contemporary – Rome and New York.

Rome panorama; photo by Giampaolo Macorig

It’s hard not to feel like a fragile creature with short expiration date while walking amid stone edifices that stood as silent witnesses of human history for over 2 thousand years. That’s just my experience of the historic center of Rome (listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site), anyway. The feeling is not bad, though. Even without tour guides and guide books, just being there feels like an incredibly enriching learning experience. An experience that is beyond words, for after all, buildings don’t speak in words. Yet somehow, they might be  telling us more about mankind than you’d learn from psychology books.

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