Reading analysis 3
Education Through Environment
In the essay “Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces,” the authors Kathleen Scholl and Gowri Gulwadi argue what that the college campus itself, with its expansive green spaces and large open spaces, hold a beneficial value far greater than mere aesthetics. The authors hold the view that the outdoor college campuses value is in its ability to provide students a place to recharge and refocus.
Historically, the view was that the university and its campus should be an “ideal community that was a place apart, secluded from city distractions but still open to the larger community enabling their students and faculty to devote unlimited time and attention for…learning, personal growth and free intellectual inquiry.” (pg.1). Meaning that the Institution had to become self-sufficient. The university not only had to provide the necessities such as dorms and dining halls within in its grounds but physically placed those grounds outside of the community. Designing the campus in such a way as to promote indoor studying; Often this meant settling in rural areas, and building the physical campus in such a way that buildings would be nearby and green spaces would be non-existent. However, this soon would change in 1862.
In 1862 the Morrill Act, which gave public lands to intuitions of higher education for free in exchange that they established institutions of agriculture, science, and technical education, passed. The passage of this act not only resulted in the advent of the land-grant institution but also changed the physical college campus. The Morrill Act required that land-grant institutions had to build brand new buildings which held observational space and laboratories for scientific research and technical education. These requirements countered the traditional design of the college campus, which employed tight clusters of buildings in an effort shield students from the outside world. Land-grant institution sought use their open space in an effort aid student learning by having them interact with their environment through the use of working farms, forests, gardens and greenhouses (pg:1).
These open spaces would not last for long. After the Second World War a student enrollment boom coupled with new scientific research grants from the federal government directly led to rapid expansion in colleges across the country. Institutions of higher education scrambled to build massive projects and new facilities. Massive independent standing structures, whose architecture often failed to match the style of the buildings already on campus replaced the old public campus spaces. The influx of new students resulted in the influx of more automobiles into the campus area. Thus to accommodate this growth, large parking lots which connected to newly built “ring roads” filled in what free space remained. Hemming the pedestrian core from outside. Blocked in by these “ring roads” and new buildings, the modern American college started to resemble its more classical ancestor This resemblance was short lived. By the 1970s the sustainability movement along with the grassroots movement changed the campus further. This modern outlook promoted reconnecting with nature and stressed reconnecting with nature as a way to recharge and refocus oneself. These recent movements seek to accomplish this by integrating the campus with open spaces and “green infrastructure” (pg: 1).
If one looks at the historical record, it becomes apparent that the campus evolves in response to the “prevailing philosophy of education” of the period with older universities placing an emphasis on discipline and boundaries, while newer designs emphasize integration and shapelessness (pg:2).
The perfect campus design Scholl and Gulwadi insist is one that creates an atmosphere for holistic learning where “the student’s relationship with the natural and built environment is capable of having an effect on student learning.” (pg: 2). The authors conclude that such an atmosphere would employ a mixture of different learning styles and types. Thus resulting in a campus filled with an architectural style which combines natural and urban elements as to regulate learning and restoration cycles, public areas and outdoor learning environments which foster a sense of community and quiet areas for self-reflection and reconnection.
The holistic campus is a perfect one as it not only provides a balance between the more traditional styles of learning with, the more modern and comprehensive approaches but because it creates an additional resource for the students to learn about not only the world around them but learn about themselves too.
Scholl, Kathleen; Gulwadi, Gowri. “Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces.” Journal of Learning Spaces, vol. 4, no. 1, July 2015.