Environmental Theory Course

Environmental Theory is a course about the relationships between people and their surroundings. We look at aspects of human behavior, meaning, personal and cultural values, perception, and cognition. We consider the reciprocal cause-and-effect relationships between people and their environment; how human behavior and values shape the environment and, conversely, how the environment affects us. This course is intended to develop an awareness of the psychological, social, and cultural aspects of spaces and places, both designed and not designed. The course explores a wide range of human connection to the material world, including contemporary issues such as security, accessibility, and sustainability. We discuss how design influences our notions of luxury, trends, and status, as well as the role designers can play in challenging social conventions or serving the public interest. One of the important questions we focus upon asks: What is good design? We address this question through readings, looking at the work of significant designers, and by analyzing familiar sites in the city.

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