In this final portion of the course, we’ll learn about our capacity to pay attention, how it is necessary for everything we care about, that it fatigues with use, and that the built environment can work for or against its recovery. We’ll also learn about stress, what happens to our bodies when we are stressed in the moment and over time, and how the built environment can help or hinder recovery from stressful experiences.
Stacks Image 75

October 29

Sullivan, W.C. (2015 in press). In search of a clear head. In Rachel Kaplan & Avik Basu (Eds). Fostering Reasonableness: Supportive environments for bringing out our best. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

Read this chapter in an effort to understand the basic ideas behind Attention Restoration Theory. Be able to answer these questions:
What kinds of attention do humans have?
What’s it used for?
What happens when our Directed Attention fatigues?
What do landscapes have to do with recovery from mental fatigue?

Faber Taylor, A., Kuo, F.E., & Sullivan, W.C. (2002). Views of nature and self-discipline: Evidence from inner city children. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 22, 49-63.

The link to this article takes you to Research Gate. If you’ve already signed up for Research Gate, you’ll go directly to this article. If not, please take a minute to sign up and then go to this article.

November 3

Kaplan, S., & Berman, M.G. (2010). Directed attention as a common resource for executive functioning and self-regulation. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 5(1), p. 43-57.

Optional Reading
Kaplan, S. (1995). The restorative benefits of nature: Toward an integrative framework. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 15, p. 169–182.

November 5

Li, D. & Sullivan, W.C. (under review). Views to school landscapes and student performance: Pathways through attention restoration and stress recovery.

This paper is under review and should not be cited or distributed beyond this class.

November 10

Beyer, K.M.M., Kaltenhach, A., Szabo, A., Bogar, S., Nieto, F.J., & Malecki, K.M. (2014). Exposure to neighborhood green space and mental health: Evidence from the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin. International Journal of Environmental Research in Public Health 11,

Evans G. (2003).
The built environment and mental health. Journal of Urban Health; 80:536 –55. This is an outstanding summary of the impacts of the built environment on the mental health of people. If you are interested in this general topic, I recommend that you download it and read it over.

November 12

Jiang, B., Chang, C.Y., & Sullivan, W.C. (2014). A dose of nature: Tree cover, stress reduction, and gender differences. Landscape and Urban Planning, 132, p. 26-36.

Jiang, B., Li, D., Larsen, L., & Sullivan, W.C. (2015, in press). A dose-response curve describing the relationship between tree density and self-reported stress recovery. To appear in Environment & Behavior. DOI: 10.1177/0013916514552321. This paper follows up on the research in the paper immediately above and shows a slightly different pattern of responses in stress recovery to tree density.

Roe, J. J., Ward Thompson, C., Aspinall, P. A., Brewer, M. J., Duff, E. I., Miller, D., et al. (2013). Green space and stress: Evidence from cortisol measures in deprived urban communities. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 10(9), 4086–4103. This is a strong paper for those of you interested in stress.

November 17

For class today, please bring a draft of the first one or two pages of your final paper. If you are writing a proposal, please begin by helping us understand the importance of the area in which you are conducting research. Tell us a little bit of what we know, then help us understand what we do not know – tell us about the gap in our knowledge. Then help us understand the costs of not filling this gap. We should be able to feel the pain of not knowing. You can typically do this in a page or a page and one-half of single-spaced writing.

If you are writing a literature review, you should also begin by telling us about the importance of your topic or question. Once we understand a bit about the topic and its importance, you can provide us with an orientation to your paper (e.g., “This review is divided into three parts. First, I review the historical development of X. Next, I demonstrate how X has been adopted by designers and by researchers in slightly different ways. Finally, I review some of the recent, important findings related to the impact of X on human health.”). Here again, this should take about a page or a page and one half of single-spaced writing.

Please bring a draft to share in class on Tuesday.

November 19

For class today, provide a written summary of one of the areas of research that you will review in your proposal or literature review. This draft should describe the issue you are interested in and tell us what we know about this topic using publications as evidence. You’ve read many of these kinds of statements over the course of the semester. Now it’s time to try your hand at writing this kind of short review.

November 24 & 26

Fall break, no classes.

December 1

For today, please read the following article and be ready to discuss it in class. You can also read over the Optional article too, if you are interested in how design can promote physical activity.

Sallis JF, Cain KL, Conway TL, Gavand KA, Millstein RA, Geremia CM, et al. (2015). Is Your Neighborhood Designed to Support Physical Activity? A Brief Streetscape Audit Tool. Preventing Chronic Disease 12:150098. DOI:


Koohsari, M.J., Mavoa, S., Villianueva, K., Sugiyama, T., Badland, H., Kaczynski, A.T., Owen, N., & Giles-Corti, B. (2015). Public open space, physical activity, urban design and public health: Concepts, methods and research agenda. Health & Place 33: 75-82.

December 3

Presentations in class

December 8

Presentations in class

December 16 at 11:00am

Final papers due.