General Session: Welcome to your School: The Application of Environmental Psychology to K-12 School Planning and Design


Royal Ballroom

  • AIA CEU: 1.0 LU HSW


“Welcome to your World: How the Built Environment Shapes Our Lives” has been one of the most influential architectural publications in recent years. This session will present a brief history of the psychology of the architecture of learning, contrasting mid-20th century behaviorism with environmental psychology. We will use author Sarah Williams Goldhagen’s observations as a launch point to explore and apply principles of environmental psychology to the effectiveness of K12 learning environments. Particularly, we will explore the following three themes in Ms. Goldhagen’s book: 1. Social, Emotional and Cognitive Consonance 2. Action Settings 3. Understanding a Vernacular through Shapes, Materials and Textures Attendees will participate in a series of exercises to research and report on these topics. There will be opportunities to continue the conversation beyond the seminar and the conference.

Learning Objectives

OBJ#1  As environmental psychology is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on the interplay between individuals and their surroundings, participants will gain insight into how the natural and built school environments we create shape the development of our students.

OBJ#2  Participants will be able to identify the role school design plays in developing social, cognitive, emotional consonance.

OBJ#3  Participants will be able to understand how shaping space and surfaces can address security and life safety while engaging students’ imagination.

OBJ#4  Participants will understand the impact enigmatic aesthetic qualities such as beauty, wellness, and meaning have on student achievement and cognitive understanding. 

Brian Carter, ALEP, Principal, Integrus Architecture

Edward Peters, ALEP, Capital Projects Director, Edmonds School District