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  • Writer's pictureArchontia Manolakelli

Academic Programmes in Environmental Psychology and adjacent study areas.

Updated: Sep 5, 2022

In the past few years, I have had a number of discussions with designers and design students who were interested in learning more about Environmental Psychology. While the majority of the people I spoke with were looking to expand their knowledge in specific areas related to aspects of spatial design, some have been thinking more seriously about training to become Environmental Psychologists. ArchPsych will hopefully provide some interesting “food-for-thought” for both levels of interest, however if you are one of the people who are looking to study Environmental Psychology, this article will give you a more specific introduction to ways you can approach this goal.


Before I continue, a disclaimer is due here to say that this post is by no means a comprehensive summary of the topic that is discussed, so it is intended for information purposes only. I am also not sponsored by, nor specifically promote any of the organisations listed below. The list just includes the universities and courses I have come across so far, which are relevant to the study of human-environment relationships in the context of spatial design. Anyone who is reading this article should therefore do their own research before deciding what the right path is for them.


In the next sections I will answer two common questions, covering the process of becoming an Environmental Psychologist as outlined by the American Psychological Association (APA), and a list of organisations that provide courses in Environmental Psychology and other related areas.


“How can someone become an Environmental Psychologist?”


The most appropriate place to look for this information, is the American Psychological Association (2014), from which I quote the following:


“The path to becoming an environmental psychologist usually follows these three steps:


1. Obtain an undergraduate degree in psychology

2. Get a master’s degree in the sub-field if offered

3. Earn a doctoral degree, usually a PhD


There are only a few graduate programs that focus on environmental psychology. However, each program has a different orientation — for example, architectural or ecological. Be sure you learn about each institution’s focus before applying to make sure you’re headed in the direction you want. Students enrolled in a program that doesn’t have an environmental focus can often apply their environmental interests to thesis or dissertation topics.”


Although this extract is largely representative of the steps most people would follow, there are three points of caution I would like to add that may require some further consideration:


1. This is a document from 2014, therefore some changes may have occurred since then that are not currently described.

2. The described process is likely to be more US-centred, and therefore the details of it may vary in different parts of the world. Please double check what the formal requirements are for your specific location or country.

3. Environmental Psychology is a pretty diverse field, with professionals and researchers from various disciplines being an active part of it, as outlined in other articles. As a result, I would challenge the requirement for an undergraduate degree in Psychology specifically. However, it may also be that having a different “base” degree is considered a non-traditional career path that is therefore not listed here.


“What academic organisations are there that provide courses in Environmental Psychology?”


Below is a (working) list of taught and research programmes in Environmental Psychology and other adjacent areas that may have some relation to spatial design disciplines. The organisations are not listed in any particular order, but they are grouped based on the course titles they provide. I have also added some more recent courses below, however, as they are not listed under the APA-suggested organisations, they may not be accredited or recognised, so please keep that in mind.


For more information and options please refer to APA's Division 34 (2011) list of “Graduate Programs in Environmental and Conservation Psychology”:


Environmental Psychology


Applied Social Psychology


Some universities prefer to use the terms "Applied Psychology" or "Applied Social Psychology" to describe this field of study, such as:


Human & Social Ecology

  • University of California, Irvine School of Social Ecology | BA + MRes/PhD https://socialecology.uci.edu/core/undergraduate-program https://socialecology.uci.edu/core/phd-social-ecology-ead

  • College of the Atlantic School of Human Ecology | Human Ecology | BA https://www.coa.edu/academics/human-ecology-degree/

Course Modules


Environmental Psychology as a focus area.


As discussed previously, students who are enrolled in related programmes that don’t have an environmental (or psychological) focus can apply their interests to thesis or dissertation topics - for example, Environmental Science degree with a dissertation in Psychology/ Environmental Psychology. To do this, finding a university with academic staff that can support and guide relevant research projects is recommended, for example:

  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Architecture & School of Psychology provide "Interdisciplinary" courses https://www.unlv.edu/academics/degrees Faculty members specialise in Environmental and Architectural Psychology

The booklet below should also be of help in this process as it outlines key researchers in various universities around the world.

(The first part of the website indicates that this document originates from the University of Victoria, however, to this day, I have no idea who the author is, apologies for that! Please do let me know if you happen to know.)


Related Studies.


Degrees with a specific focus on the built environment that include elements of psychology, environmental analysis and design in the curriculum.


Built Environment, Health and Wellbeing

Landscape and Wellbeing

Environmental Science & Psychology

Human Factors and Ergonomics

This list will be updated periodically with information about different organisations. At the moment this list is mostly US and Europe-centred, more information will be added about other parts of the world in due time.

 

Archontia Manolakelli is an Architect and interdisciplinary Design Researcher based in Manchester, UK. Her commitment to designing more comfortable, inclusive and sustainable places using an evidence-based approach, led her to discover Environmental Psychology back in 2016. Since then she has continued to further her knowledge on this wonderful field through the study of psychology and approach to professional practice in architecture.

 

Hello. Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have enjoyed your reading! If you have any questions or feedback on this article, please don't hesitate to drop a line on LinkedIn or via email.

 


Citations.


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