|Wednesday, June 24|
Over the last 50 years, studies of people-environment relationships have been developed in multiple disciplines. Throughout this time, a constant question has been how to improve peoples well-being in the various places we use or experience at different moments of the day, different times of the year, and at different stages of life. This has resulted in a significant amount of research work concerning the influence of built and natural environments on human health, wellbeing and behaviour more generally. The use of scientific evidence to inform design and policies has gradually made its way into both the public and private sectors, mostly in the context of institutional buildings and urban planning. Meta-reviews, systematic reviews and literature search are conducted on different topics to gather strong evidence in order to help designers and policy-makers expand their knowledge base and make evidence-informed decisions. This symposium discuss research methods used in people-environment studies along this 50-year timeframe. How are researchers in people-environment studies actually contributing to well-being, environmental issues, health, and other current issues from a methodological perspective? How have the findings resulting from different methods shaped theory, policies and guidelines and ultimately places? What is the genealogy of scientific evidence in literature reviews and how does the interpretation of past studies fare in terms of rigour ? The aim is to contrast the resulting findings addressing same issues but using different methods towards understanding the diversity, complexities and even mistakes along the research in people-environment studies.
* Ana Karinna Hidalgo, University of Regina, Canada
Understanding the temporal context of people-environment relationships
* Tony Craig, The James Hutton Institute, United Kingdom
At the heart of people-environment studies is the idea that a person can only be truly understood in the context of their immediate situation. An early attempt to deal with the question of how best to represent the situation of a person was the topological psychology approach of Kurt Lewin (1936), which explicitly acknowledged the dynamic nature of people-environment relationships. This points to the importance of understanding not only the physical and the social context, but also to the temporal context. Understanding behaviours requires us to ask not just what might happen, but also when something might happen. The best example of a social scientific approach that has embraced this temporal dimension is the time-geographic approach of Torsten Hägerstrand, which suggested that the structure of society can be revealed by carefully observing the daily activities of individuals as they go about their everyday lives (Ellegård, 1999). These observations help to form a picture of the emergent macro-level outcome of the totality of individual time-space interactions. Most studies on this topic rely of time-use diaries, which provide a structure for comparing the lived-days of different individuals. Exactly how to build up meso and macro level understandings from these individual activity sequences is not a simple question. Developing an understanding of the dynamics of time-space relationships often requires a methodological leap from empirical data to complex data visualisations and other models. This methodological leap is one that scholars in people-environment studies need to embrace however, and there are various sophisticated methods that allow such analyses to begin to seem possible. We need to be careful however to avoid putting methodological sophistication before careful theory development, and the sensible place to start when developing theories is in the rich literature spanning the different theoretical contributions to people-environment studies over the past 50 years.
50 years of scientific productivity in man-environment studies. A Scientometric analysis of the journal E&B
* Maria Montero, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico-UNAM, Mexico
Blanca Neli Sanchez-Hernandez, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico-UNAM, Mexico
Objective: To identify scientometric profiles made on the journal E&B pioneer in the scientific dissemination of studies on man-environment. Conceptual challenge: To reflect, supported by evidence, on what has been learned, the present and future challenges of studies on human-environment interaction. Method: A Scientometric strategy will be used to analyze the 1782 articles published from June 1969 to December 2019 in the journal E&B. With the scientific production profiles analyzed, the three approaches proposed in this symposium were answered. Results: The terms wellbeing and health combined with global change, water and pollution were chosen to answer the first question. The resulting graphs give an idea of the volume of scientific productivity that is oriented to the study of priority issues for human and environmental health. To answer the second question posed, the articles that referred to theories, models, policies and guidelines were grouped. From this identification, the relative volume of scientific production that seeks to generate original theories and propose public policies based on scientific evidence could be appreciated. Finally, to answer the third question, it was identified in how many articles cited the pioneers within the environmental area, with which topics they were associated, what is the level of fenecence of the work done by these authors and if it is feasible to identify hidden schools. Discussion and prospective: Based on the evidence generated, it is possible to propose new research topics that bring scientific activity closer to the promotion of people's quality of life while taking care of the environment where they develop. In the future, it is proposed to consider the generation of studies aimed at solving and preventing global problems by generating and establishing public policies aimed at promoting people's mental health and preserving the natural environment.
The genealogy of evidence in people-environment studies: Lessons to be learned
* Carole Després, Université Laval, Canada
Andrée-Anne Porlier, Université Laval, Canada
This article explores the genealogy of the scientific evidence in 42 literature reviews reporting on 405 empirical studies on the influence of the built and natural environment of schools on the healthy lifestyles, well-being and educational success of elementary and secondary school children. More specifically, it examines some limitations found in the selection and evaluation of over one hundred of these studies, as well as in the interpretation and reinterpretation of the findings. First, the types of evidence considered in these literature reviews often set aside empirical evidence that would be very useful to designers, namely transferable (qualitative) knowledge over generalizable (quantitative) one. However, the design process is rooted in a local reality (territorial and cultural) and its result is rarely a generic solution but rather a tailored one (Kirkeby, 2011). Second, the replication of some literature reviews has shown that while studies are carefully selected, the interpretation of their findings can sometimes be poor (Gebel, Bauman and Petticrew 2007, Delaney, Tamás and Tobi 2016). By illustrating the genealogy of some scientific evidence, we will highlight the lack of caution found in several literature reviews (all types combined) about how the results of previous studies are reinterpreted. Third, we will illustrate the lack of true interdisciplinary teams in people-environment studies, that is, teams composed of researchers trained in the field of design as well as in different disciplines (Shepley & Watson 2013). Emphasis should be placed not only on knowledge transfer, but also on knowledge production. The presentation will conclude on the urgency of improving the quality and usefulness of evidence for designers and discuss some of the ways to achieve this.
Lighting the winter city: why we need more evidence-based planning
* Ana Karinna Hidalgo, University of Regina, Canada
Time of the day and night, season of the year… every period is determined by the change, colour or absence of light. The built environment found its way to ‘combat’ the natural darkness by incorporating artificial lights. Cities around the world can be seen from above and far away in the night because of their lights. Street lighting was considered a modern distinction in the ancient cities; a lamp that imitates the sun was an object of pride as well as of safety (Mumford, 1961). Lights’ priority in municipalities deals with the relationship among traffic, beautification, budget and efficiency. Analysis on other issues such as health are not fully considered. For decades, biologists and ecologist have been studying how artificial lights and skyglow affect wildlife behavior, urban insects increase, vegetation growth patterns and birds’ migration (Irwin, 2018; White, 2012). On other side, reports and design guidelines for cities, particularly winter cities, constantly promote the use of lights for beautification and the creation of a festive ambiance. However, studies on artificial lights’ effect on mental and physical human health remain scant. One of the effects of artificial lights in people is the lost of day-night boundaries, therefore a more difficult adaptation to the biological process synchronization (Bedrosian & Nelson, 2017). Mental fatigue is also a direct effect of light (Hidalgo, 2019; Smolders & de Kort, 2014; Sivaji et al., 2013; Küller et al., 2006). Nevertheless, these effects are not considered when making decisions about city planning. An interdisciplinary literature review is conducted with the aim of finding how artificial lights affect human health. This review covers a 50-year timeline period of evidence-based studies and urban design and planning reports. The findings of this study will help informing urban public policies and promote further research on artificial lights in cities.
* Carole Després, École d'architecture, Université Laval, Canada
* Tony Craig, The James Hutton Institute, Great Britain