20 Matching Annotations
  1. Feb 2017
    1. more than two-thirds of the Cornell University campus is open space; its ecosystem services are visualized along a spectrum of naturalness as greenways, quads and greens, streets and walks, etc. (Cornell University Campus Master Plan, 2014). Such holistic landscapes can impact student learning because they provide multiple everyday opportunities for multi-sensorial, student-nature encounters– an important precursor to activating the attention restoration cycle (Speake, Edmondson, & Nawaz, 2013; Ratcliffe et al. 2013).

      This would be fantastic if all universities could obtain these natural landscapes. The picture below was taken at Cornell University and is yet another example of why I question the authors ability to make a sound case for extraordinary natural landscape and visuals on campus space that are feasible for the majority of universities.

    2. A historic perspective shows that campuses are evolving in response to the prevailing philosophy of education – older campus plans emphasized disciplinary boundaries and newer campus designs are more amorphous and integrative.

      This is an interesting statement that is both correct and incorrect in certain ways depending on the context. For instance, the author argues that disciplinary boundaries are being replaced with more integrative designs on campuses. In a sense, this is true in regards to campuses like Georgia State University that integrate with their city and share space, but not so much for many private and liberal arts colleges that create built environments that isolate them from the rest of the city. However, if you are applying this argument contextually to the landscape inside of the university campus, then it would be safe to say that universities have evolved to become more integrative.

    3. Early American colleges and universities were self-sufficient and often built in rural locations with dormitories, dining halls and recreation facilities (Bowman, 2011; Eckert, 2012). Many university founders desired to create an ideal community that was a place apart, secluded from city distraction but still open to the larger community, enabling their students and faculty to devote unlimited time and attention for classical or divinity learning, personal growth, and free intellectual inquiry (Eckert, 2012; Gumprecht, 2007; Turner, 1984).

      This passage offers insight into the origin of Gulwadi and Scholl's perspectives as it emphasizes how the importance of location can be traced back to early American universities and their founders. It also states that these universities tended to be in rural, isolated areas and were self-sufficient, which are similar characteristics that the authors emulate.

      It is important to understand that early American colleges and universities were primarily attended and designed by people that had higher socioeconomic statuses and more access to wealth, and because of this, their campus designs will tend to reflect that in some capacity, such as exclusionary building. Therefore, it is not surprising that the authors emphasize the importance of landscape and seclusion in their campus design because their perceptions are likewise focusing on universities that have comparatively more money to facilitate these accommodations.

    4. We suggest that successful meshing of the two notions can occur by adopting a whole-systems approach to campus design – one that requires communication and collaboration among academic, administrative and facilities planning stakeholders

      In order to successfully bridge these two notions, the authors suggest focusing on communication and collaboration among the comprising stakeholders within the university, which is a problematic approach as it only pertains to the collective reasoning of university stakeholders. The authors illustrate a narrow perspective of the campus environment by assuming that the land where a university is located will only be inhabited by that university, thus seeing no need to include the opinions of others who are not directly associated with the university.

      Georgia State University is a good of example of a college that conflicts with Gulwadi and Scholl’s stereotype of the built campus environment as it integrates with independent property owners in downtown Atlanta to create a campus that revolves around a shared space. The picture below of downtown Atlanta illustrates the level of congestion that property owners have within their community space. (photo credit: Brett Barnhill)

      Thus, Georgia State University must communicate and collaborate with stakeholders that exist outside of its own realm when approaching campus design.

    5. Campus master planning efforts are whole-systems approaches (Koester, Eflin, & Vann, 2006) that preserve open space and integrate sustainable features such as indigenous plants, rain gardens, green roofs, and buildings that function as living laboratories.

      Gulwadi and Scholl’s vision of an ideal campus landscape seem to reflect environments that are isolated from cities and have natural access to beautiful scenery. Below, are pictures from Wake Forest University, which is consistently ranked among the top 25 universities in the country and is an exemplary depiction of a holistic learning environment.

      (photo credit: Bryan Pollard) (photo credit: Bryan Pollard)

      The problem with these pictures is that the campus is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and the scenery is relative to the geological/ecological make-up of that specific area. It would be impossible to come across this landscape naturally if your university was located in the arid desert of the southwest, which is one reason why universities face limitations within their access to natural landscape. Furthermore, when considering these limitations, it becomes apparent that Gulwadi and Scholl’s vision of an ideal campus is flawed and only representative of their linear perspective.

    6. The preservation of open space is vital to the maintenance and effective functioning of a quality university learning environment (Radloff, 1998). Recognizing college campus landscapes as vital learning spaces will harness the holistic potential of college campuses as attentional resources.

      The preservation and utilization of open space on a campus as an “attentional resource” are components that the authors describe as being essential in creating a holistic learning environment. Although these design plans are practical and relative to the scheme of creating a holistic learning environment, it is important to keep in mind that these concepts may not directly translate to all campus environments.

    7. The preservation of open space is vital to the maintenance and effective functioning of a quality university learning environment (Radloff, 1998).

      The preservation and utilization of open space on a campus as an “attentional resource” are components that the authors describe as being essential in creating a holistic learning environment. Although these design plans are practical and relative to the scheme of creating a holistic learning environment, it is important to keep in mind that these concepts may not directly translate to all campus environments.

    8. Student perception of the surrounding campus landscape and the opportunities it offers for intentional and unintentional learning or recreational engagement/activity might influence their overall campus experience.

      I concur with Gulwadi and Scholl’s assertion that a student’s perception of the campus landscape and environmental opportunities offered may influence their overall experience, however the task of interpreting how each student may perceive the landscape is complicated.

      There are many aspects to consider when attempting to interpret a student’s perception of campus landscape, such as the historical background of the location(as well as its surrounding neighbors). Also, universities contain subsets of schools that are distinct in their field of study, including schools of health, natural science, social science, law, business etc…which can collectively create conflict in perspective from students. But, these are just a small example of potential conflicts that may arise from environmental influences and do not include the laundry list of variables that are more specifically pertinent to the history of each student.

      Thus, it is important to include a multitude of variables that can potentially affect a student’s perception of the campus landscape when attempting campus design.

    9. Americans expect a university campus to look different than other places (Gumprecht, 2007) and that the campus “expresses something about the quality of academic life, as well as its role as a citizen of the community in which it is located” (Dober, 1996, p.47). Today’s university must be resilient spaces in which the learning environment encompasses more than technology upgrades, classroom additions, and its academic buildings – in fact, the entire campus, including its open spaces, must be perceived as a holistic learning space that provides a holistic learning experience (Gumprecht, 2003; Gutierrez, 2013; Kenny, Dumont, & Kenny, 2005).

      In this thought-provoking excerpt, the authors suggest that the American expectation of academic life on campus drives universities to offer a learning environment which encompasses the entire campus space, thus creating a perceived "holistic learning experience". This notion raises interesting questions, particularly with regard to the intended experience that universities aim for, in contrast to the reality of each student's perceived experience.

      For instance, Georgia State University's campus is located in the middle of downtown Atlanta where you have an array of businesses and organizations that share common ground with the university. One student may absorb this environment as a motivational showcase, as citizens from different walks of life are seen on a daily basis integrating and collectively contributing to society. Another student may focus their attention on the considerable amount of homeless people spread out amongst the downtown area and internalize the disparity between socioeconomic classes as people are seen disregarding homeless individuals everyday.

      As the train of thought dissents between these two examples, it is easy to see how difficult it can be for a university to create a campus learning environment that acts as a "holistic learning experience" and is also conducive to all students' perceptions.

    10. Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces

      "Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces", by Kathleen G Scholl and Gowri Betrabet Gulwadi, is a fitting title conceptually to counter the main viewpoint offered in the supplemental reading, "The College Amenities Arms Race", by Carla Newlon. In this article, Newlon states that in less selective universities the campus environment has evolved to cater towards an influx of students that have become accustomed to a “much higher standard of living". While selective schools like Harvard maintain academic precedence in their built environment, less selective schools like High Point University tend to focus on providing luxuries and amenities to appease students. The author ultimately suggests that these universities are making a "smarter business decision" by adopting this strategy, gauging from the expectations that students primarily seek in their campus environment.

      The emerging conflict between these two articles sheds light on a pattern that could be corrosive if not met with reason, and is indicative of the decisions universities face today when creating their campus environment. While both types of institutions generate high amounts of revenue, Scholl and Gulwadi would agree that weighing business decisions over academic decisions in the campus environment can be detrimental to the reputation and integrity of the school, as well as to its educational value for students. Thus, schools that aim to recognize campus landscapes as learning spaces, will have priorities that differ from those less selective universities described by Newlon, with regard to the needs and interests of the students that attend them. Students that value academia will be more inclined to attend schools that embody those values in its campus, while students that seek luxury and comfort may opt for the latter and obtain an education that is potentially inferior in educational quality.

      Newlon, Cara. "The College Amenities Arms Race." Frobes 31 July. 2014,  https://www.forbes.com/sites/caranewlon/2014/07/31/the-college-amenities-arms-race/#5c9b17e04883

    11. After reading this article, I would like to ask these questions:

      Does Georgia State University neglect student’s needs for “holistic landscapes” and “student-nature interactions”? According to the reading, what negative impact could this have on student learning and achievement?

      In my opinion, I do believe that Georgia State does neglect students needs for such environments. For example, the only outdoor space with grass is located in the Commons, but only students who live in housing has access to that space. To my awareness, there are no strictly natural spaces that are provided by Georgia State to fulfill students' need for restoration in nature. Some may argue that the quad acts as such a place, because their are trees and other small plants. I tend to disagree, because the space is a man-made, concrete structure. I also feel that public parks on campus, such as Hurt and Woodruff, cannot be argued for their inclusion, because they are not strictly provided by Georgia State University and many students feel uncomfortable spending time on the property.

      According to the article, without spending time in nature students may experience "burnout" in their academic endeavors. I can personally attest to this phenomenon from my experience living on campus last semester. To be more specific, I became extremely depressed and anxious staying indoors constantly. It was only when I came home and could feel comfortable going outside to read that these symptoms were alleviated. However, I'm not sure whether this happened, because I have grown up spending time in nature. I think it would be interesting to see if someone who grew up in an urban environment experiences the same phenomenon.

      I think this idea also relates to my supplemental article, because encourages me to be more critical of the amenities Georgia State has added. For example, instead of having so many parking decks could the institution spare one so that students have a getaway from the concrete jungle of the city? (I am think more along the line of a small gated park set aside for Georgia State students.) In sum both the supplemental article as well as the main piece allowed be to be more knowledgeable on a topic that caught my attention from my experience on campus.

    12. For my supplemental text I choose to read "The College Amenities Arms Race" by Cara Newlon. More specifically, I selected this article, because the title somewhat stunned me but also resonated with my thinking.

      The article begins with a list of relatively luxurious amenities recently add to some college campuses including "free movies [theaters]", "leisure [pools] with biometric hand scanners", and "climbing [walls] to make exercise interesting". As the article mentions, this may sound like an extravagant getaway, but it is becoming increasingly more common for college campus to possess such amenities or amenities of the same nature. As one might expect, this amenities come with a hefty price tag. In fact, "costs have been on the rise" following the depression, creating an atmosphere of competition between colleges' possession of amenities. However, as Newlon states "some of this construction has been necessary", due to an increase in enrollment.

      This students are much different from the students of the past. They are a product of the amenities "arm race" and not only look for, but almost expect, such amenities to be provided. Although, these added amenities due contribute to the looming debt students face as they exit college and enter into the real world. Students, however, are willing to pay such high prices, which entices colleges to add amenities as a savvy "business decision". And so due to the encouraging business model, colleges continue to invest and compete by adding more and more amenities to catch future students' eyes.

      I feel that this article relates to the main text, because the race for luxurious amenities somewhat takes away from the importance of incorporating nature into the academic environment. On a more obvious level, the amenities must be built on land that was previously unoccupied. This means that natural space is being taken away or at the very least diminished. Furthermore, such amenities promote activities outside of nature in man-made structures. In the same regard, this also diminishes the restorative property of nature for students. Overall, the amenities take away from what nature can offer. If thinking from the perspective of the article, is the business appeal of adding such amenities worth the potential health and happiness of college students?

      Newlon, Cara. "The College Amenities Arms Race." Forbes, 31 July 2014, https://www.forbes.com/sites/caranewlon/2014/07/31/the-college-amenities-arms-race/#73afd2bd4883. Retrieved 19 February 2017.

    13. Such an approach also goes beyond advertising the aesthetic value of the campus open spaces for student recruitment purposes to recognizing the entire campus landscape as a learning space and advertising its educational value – that is emphasizes something deeper than what meets the eye.

      In closing, I feel like this statements sums up both the main piece and the supplemental article perfectly. Colleges and universities have so much potential to develop their campuses into strong learning environments. But its up to the schools to make this decision. In so many cases, I find that institutions tend to look out more for their business interest, instead of their students. I personally believe that we as consumers of education should look closer at what we are paying for. Theses "miniature cities" may seem like fun for the next four years, but are they really what you need to prepare yourself for the future. In sum, I feel like we underestimate the simpler things like natural spaces, due to the consumerism push of our culture.

    14. In these settings, human interaction can take place via three modes – indirect (experiencing nature passively even though not physically present in it), incidental (chance encounters with nature via other activities) and intentional (purposeful activity)

      The three modes somewhat surprised me, because while reading the article I constantly assumed they were referring to the last mode, which is "intentional" interaction with nature. I am somewhat critical of the other two modes (especially the first one), because of what we learned about selective attention last semester in psychology. More specifically, in our daily lives we can only focus on a few stimuli at a time the rest of the world is there but that doesn't mean that we are completely aware of it. Here is an example of what I mean:


      Just like many people don't see the gorilla, we also don't notice every tree and plant we pass by. Do they mean at a subconscious level nature can have a positive affect on students? Otherwise, I believe that students are less aware of their natural surroundings than the author assumes.

      "Selective Attention Test." Youtube, uploaded by Daniel Simmons, 10 March 2010.

    15. We explain those concepts below as they apply to student learning and learning spaces.

      As a future teacher, learning about how nature or alternative natural spaces has been very intriguing. Of course this article was made with universities in mind, but I feel that it could also be applied to high school, middle school, and even elementary school classrooms. After all, younger students could benefit greatly from the potential of restoring "direct attention" from natural interactions. Below I have listed some ideas of how nature could be implemented in lower level programs.

      • Outdoor Recess (Being outdoor would provide students with the opportunity to give their "involuntary attention" towards things that interest them or bring them joy.)
      • Taking Nature Walks (This could act as a break to students who grow tired of sitting in chairs all day. Also, it could be used as a learning experience for subjects like Earth Science, Addition/Subtraction, or any for that matter.)
      • Reading Outdoors (This may seem like it would be like a distraction, but I have found that changing the setting can make reading more exciting. This could also make books about nature more engaging, because they are experiencing what they are reading about.)

      In sum, outdoor interaction could be beneficial to all students no matter whether they are in preschool or graduate school.

    16. Nature can be labeled as a non-human physical feature such as an individual plant or butterfly.

      When I read this sentence it automatically made me think of the balcony at Aderhold on the GSU campus. This sentence and the ideas that follow somewhat refute my criticism of GSU neglecting student's needs for a natural space, because Aderhold and the Quad do have individual plants. Although, this seems questionable that a few plants can generate the same restorative affect in students as a park or more traditional natural setting would be able to.

      All in all, I think what's truly important is that the definition of nature is subjective. More specifically, it depends on your experiences and expectations. For example, if a student moved from rural North Dakota to downtown Atlanta is would be difficult to argue the point that a few plants are to be considered nature. On the other hand, say someone moved from New York City to Atlanta. They are more likely to accept the validity of nature being represented by a few plants.

      Picture of Aderhold Balcony. Retrieved from http://studentsinthecity.gsu.edu/the-best-commuter-hang-out-spots/

    17. natural scenery employs the mind without fatigue and yet exercises it; tranquilizes it and yet enlivens it; and thus through the influence of the mind over the body, gives the effect of refreshing rest and reinvigorating to the whole system

      The statement above really resonated with my personal academic experiences. To be more specific, I think every college student can attest to the fact that college is extremely stressful and sometimes this stress can prevent productive, efficient behavior. In order to combat what some people may refer to as "burnout", one must find a place to clear the mind and motivate themselves to keep pushing ahead. Nature can act as that resource for many, if not all people. As Olmstead eloquently explains, nature has the power of both relaxation and motivation. Two things of which college students are in serious need of!

      For example, I especially love to complete my English assignments outside. I believe this is the case, because I have always struggled with the subject and get easily frustrated with the assignments. By completing my assignments outside, I can just take a moment to look up and understand that its okay. In the same regard, when I'm looking for inspiration I sometimes concentrate on the sound of the leaves rustling in the wind or watch the clouds overhead. By using this distraction, I begin to relax and its no time at all before a new idea pops into my mind. (Here is picture of my view while completing this assignment!)

      In summary, natural spaces set aside for students fulfill students most desperate needs for coping with the stress while also performing at their highest level. As previously discussed, this is due to nature's restorative quality.

      However, this begs the question of whether constructed places can be just as effective? For example, would sitting at a library and people watching yield the same result?

    18. By preserving and suitably integrating open spaces into the green infrastructure, universities can add value and quality to the campus environment by: forging a campus identity, creating a sense of community, curbing escalating campus density, serving social and recreational needs, providing environmental benefits, and facilitating fundraising and recruitment of both faculty and students

      This statement attests to the crucial role a natural environment plays for not only the student, but also the broader campus community. Below I have listed various ways both individual students and groups of students can utilized natural spaces to create an all around more positive college atmosphere.

      Individual Uses of the Natural Environment

      • Studying and Completing Assignments
      • Interacting with nature and breathing fresh air

        Group/Community Uses of the Natural Enviroment

      • Study Groups
      • Information Fairs (e.g. clubs, jobs)
      • Parties or other community gatherings (e.g. Freshman block party)
      • Areas for speeches or peaceful demonstrations
      • In general, a place for members of the institution to interact

      As you can see from the list of ways natural spaces could be utilized, areas set aside for this purpose could lead to greater success in both student's academic endeavors and social relationships. Additionally, these spaces also provide a space for members of the institution to come together and connect. This, in turn, creates a more inclusive atmosphere and contributes to a healthier and happier campus.

      Although, playing as the "devils advocate", college communities might also fulfill these needs through manmade amenities that boost the appeal of their school. I think that both have their advantages, but a glaring advantage of indoor spaces are available no matter the weather condition.

      Would you prefer (or be more likely to attend) an event held in a natural space or indoors?

    19. enabling their students and faculty to devote unlimited time and attention for classical or divinity learning, personal growth, and free intellectual inquiry

      Going off of my previous annotation, I think it is also important to weigh the pros and cons of having natural spaces versus other man made amenities in order to see which is more favorable to create the characteristic listed above of an ideal learning environment. Below I have included a list that many college campus may consider, using both the main text as well as my supplementary text cited in the notes page.

      Natural Spaces for Students

      • These spaces provide a restorative quality that may help prevent "burnout" and improve student's attentional levels.
      • Additionally, these spaces are less costly for both the students and the university.
      • Students can use this space as an almost getaway to study and concentrate on assignments while breathing fresh air.

      Man Made Amenities

      • As mentioned in Newlon's article these space may be appealing to students and encourage completion in the business world of universities.
      • They are provide a getaway to the stress college students may face.
      • In addition, the more amenities the more debt students will accumulate.

      Looking at this for a more personal level, I think having more natural space is better, because due to the evidence presented in the text it seems that it has only positive advantages. On the other had, other amenities definitely have their perks, but also have their drawbacks. For example, having activities such as a free movie theatre or indoor golf may act as a distraction from academics. Due to this reasoning, I believe universities and colleges alike should value natural spaces more than they do in the present.

    20. Many university founders desired to create an ideal community that was a place apart, secluded from city distraction but still open to the larger community

      I personally feel like this is a very interesting statement, especially in light of the supplemental article by Cara Newlon ("The College Amenities Arms Race"). More specifically, colleges are evolving into almost self-sufficent communities with the added amenities becoming more common. Further, I think it is fair to think critically about whether or not the isolation that college campuses encourage is beneficial for students. For example, its common to hear people say that college was the best four years of their life and they wish they could go back. I maybe in the minority, but I've always thought this statement sounded quite funny. To be more specific, I feel that college is supposed to be a time of preparation for your future. The amenities such as indoor waterparks, spas, and steak houses create a upperclass town-like atmosphere, but set students up for an unrealistic expectation of what life will be like outside the campus. In addition, I personally believe that creating the type of community described in the supplemental article is frivolous and only tacts on unneeded expenses to college student's debts, further lessening the quality of their life outside of college. However, going back to the main texts, adding more natural spaces to create the "ideal community" may be more beneficial for both student's pockets and happiness in the future. In sum, I think it's important to consider what is needed to create an "ideal space" that is conducive to learning and achievement later on in life.