In the essay “Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces”, the authors Kathleen Scholl and Gowri Gulwadi argue that although the classroom setting is solely believed to shape student’s learning experiences, American college/university campuses require a holistic environment which includes open exterior space, attention to nature, and advanced interior classroom settings that will provide a holistic learning experience and enhance students’ learning abilities. The authors agrees that the indoor teaching area is vital to the process of learning; however, they insist that students need breaks from the high demand of cognitive skills, focus, and attention to detail that is associated with the classroom environment. Scholl and Gulwadi believe that the open space increases attention and alleviates stress, therefore provides that break students desire.
Scholl and Gulwadi use Francis L. Olmstead to emphasize that the physical landscape shapes behavior and offers an experiential learning opportunity. Olmstead says, “natural scenery employs the mind without fatigue and yet exercises it; tranquilizes it and yet enlivens it” (Gulwadi, Scholl). Olmstead, Scholl, and Gulwadi all believe that nature engages the mind, similar to the way that classwork does. However, rather than increasing stress as curricular activities tend to do, nature calms the brain and forces it to relax. The writers explore the different definitions of nature and conclude that nature pertains to an environment of physical features and living fauna; nature can also be a particular object itself such as a single butterfly, plant, or animal. Therefore, the natural environment consist of animals, plants, air, water, and landscapes (Gulwadi, Scholl). The authors’ theory of nature’s ability to tranquilize the brain is justified by the purpose of vacations. People often take vacations to places like the Jamaica or Hawaii with open outdoor sceneries in order to relax and alleviate themselves from the daily stresses of life. Going on a vacation is an example of what Scholl and Gulwadi would call an “intentional” nature interaction which is the act of purposely involving nature.
Scholl and Gulwadi argue that along with intentional student- nature interactions, universities consist of indirect and incidental student- nature interactions which contribute to a holistic learning experience. Indirect interaction involves experiencing nature passively without actually being in it, and incidental interactions occur by chance in the midst of other activities (Gulwadi, Scholl). Indirect interactions allow the interior learning space to encompass aspects of nature. For example, a painting of flowers on a wall is indirect because it is not a physical feature of nature. However, similar to a real flower, it has the same behavioral effects on a student because it mimics the physical object. An example of incidental interaction could be seeing an indoor plant while walking to class (Gulwadi, Scholl). Intentional interaction is most important to Scholl and Gulwadi’s argument because this type of interaction is fulfilled by having the large open exterior landscapes which enhance student’s abilities.
Scholl and Gulwadi assert that the open exterior environment has multiple uses. It is not just where students rejuvenate themselves, but where they also expand their learning. The exterior environment can act as a classroom where professors teach their lectures outside. However, the landscape can also be an object that students study, such as going out to environments to make conclusions about material learned in the classroom. Besides from scholarly learning, recreational technique is fostered in the open landscape (Gulwadi, Scholl). Therefore, the exterior environment creates a holistic experience because it is a place where students can learn about an array of topics and reboot their minds.
Scholl and Gulwadi’s argument is relevant because it is different from the typical belief that the classroom experience is most important in fostering learning outcomes. The authors declare that the exterior environment is just as important as the interior environment. The essay factually explains why many universities have tons of open space, but also encourages universities to restructure campus and add more greenery. Scholl and Gulwadi’s conclusion indirectly encourages students to spend more time by explaining the behavioral impact of nature. Thus, their argument is relevant because it inspires change among institutions and students.
Scholl, Kathleen; Gulwadi, Gowri. “Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces.” Journal of Learning Spaces, vol. 4, no. 1, July 2015.
Ndang, Shiri, “Explore University Eagle, American University, and more!” Pinterest, 2016, https://www.pinterest.com/pin/450852612666982316/
“Hawaii Vacation Packages.” Expedia, 2016, https://www.expedia.com/Hawaii.d213.Destination-Travel-Guides