Identifying criteria for designing inherently educational landscapes
Miller, Julie Micheller
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The connections between people and the natural world are seemingly growing weaker, and this only feeds existing cycles of environmental degradation. Designed landscapes provide an opportunity to strengthen these connections; they have potential to serve as a forum for environmental education, thereby advancing public environmental awareness and understanding. Because landscape architects influence the meanings and messages revealed through landscapes, they can send messages of positive ecological understanding in order to educate people who interact with particular landscapes. This thesis aims to discover how everyday landscapes can be designed as tools for learning about the environment. Research for this thesis generated a set of design criteria for incorporating learning into landscapes. The criteria include both design features and design qualities, and is derived from an overlap of several different layers: learning environments, an analysis of three ecological landscapes, interviews with these landscapes' designers and users, and information from environmental psychologists Rachel and Stephen Kaplan on relationships between people and their environments.