While every human perceives of and lives in various spaces and places, it is designers, architects, and engineers who conceive the built environment. Designers shape the environments in which we work and sleep, play and care, teach and learn, be and do. Our designs often focus on the form and function of the place we are bringing to life for better use for humans, as well as plants and animals. However, our responsibilities are much more significant. Our work shapes not only the physical world but also effects the social, psychological, physiological, economic, cultural, political, and ecological environments of individuals and groups. Who else conceives of the health, safety, and welfare of the world if not us? How, then, can we become more aware in our work to produce more sustainable, supportive, and intelligent environments?

This course is about the relationships between people and their surroundings, and as such it is structured to give you the tools and concepts to become more aware of the ways we do design. You will learn how to implement that awareness with these tools and concepts to the best of your abilities and in mine with goals toward a sustainable future. The materials we draw on in design work are often visual works of interior and architecture but the present environmental, social, and economic crises show us that there is more to look at and address in the world.

In this course you will learn new ways of seeing human-environment relations. We look at aspects of human behavior, meaning, personal and cultural values, perception, and cognition. We consider the reciprocal cause-and-effect relationships in the interactions between people and their environment: how human behavior, perceptions, and values produce and shape the environment and, conversely, how the environment affects us. We will explore a wide range of human connection to the material world, through both theory and method of Environment Behavior Research (EBR), also known as Environmental Psychology (EP) and Environment Behavior Studies (EBS). We will use these terms interchangeably as we move forward.