Reading Summary 3: Recognizing campus Landscapes as Learning Space

The article starts of describing how American higher education are facing changes and challenges in providing good learning spaces for diverse and evolving needs of college children. Like continued enrollment growth, technological challenges, and financial challenges. In 2009, 20.4 million children were enrolled in 2 or 4 year colleges/universities. Enrollments are also expected to rise 2019, 9% for students under 25 and 23% for students over 25.  The article talks about confronting the traditional notions of how university spaces are designed and used for effectiveness.

How Americans expect their universities to look different then other places because it expresses the academic life. Todays universities most encompass more than technological, classroom additions, and its academic buildings. The entire campus including the open spaces most be perceived as a holistic learning space that provides a holistic learning experience. Learning takes place throughout campus not just indoors in designated instructional spaces. Only one-fifth of the students time is spent in the classroom, contributing to one quarter of the learning variance. Open spaces on campus can play an important part in students learning and a strong influence on students initial and long standing experiences. Which promotes a sense of belong to the learning community. However the influences of open spaces are usually overlooked.

The college experience is a stimulating and demanding time in a students life which requires frequent and heavy use of direct focused attention and concentration. Which puts university students at a higher risk of attentional fatigue. Increase in technological use also increase the odds of students attentional fatigue. Campus natural open spaces have sadly not been systematically examined for replenishing cognitive functioning for attentional fatigued students. One way to  examine this is to consider the entire campus with its building and natural open spaces as a well-networked landscape system that supports students learning experiences. Highlighting the two concepts: 1. direct and indirect attention and restoration, 2. a holistic landscape.

American colleges and universities were self-sufficient and usually in rural areas with dormitories, dinning halls and recreational areas. Many university founders desired to create a ideal community that was a place apart, secluded from city desecrations but still open to the larger community. The advent of land-grant intuitions through the Morrill Act of 1862 required new buildings to be built with laboratories and observatory space in agriculture. Unlike the classical designs of America’s first institutions, the physical campus of the land- grant was designed to significant contribute to student learning. Fredrik Law Olmstead worked with the philosophy that physical landscape features had a direct impact on shaping human behavior, and offers students experimental education passive or theoretical learning.


Scholl, Kathleen & Gowri Betrabet Gulwadi. “Recognizing Campus Landscapes as learning Spaces”. Journal of Learning Spaces [online] 4.1(2015): n pag. web. 16 Feb. 2016

Achohen.”A Beautiful Space, a Usable Space: The Balance of Library Design “. The Library Incubator. Web. 13 April 2015. 16 February 2016.