Course Description: Environmental Psychology

Dr. Graham Cousens, Associate Professor of Psychology, Drew University
2 hours, 5 Tuesday afternoons 1:30-3:30 pm
March 22, 29, April 5, 12, and 19, 2022

This course examines the interdependence of human behavior and the environments in which we live, work, and play. We will consider our emotional connections to the places we know, as well as our perception and evaluation of built environments of different spatial scales, including the architectural features of buildings and the social and physical landscapes of neighborhoods and cities.  We will consider what psychologists and other behavioral researchers have learned about wayfinding and spatial cognition in these environments, as well as ways to promote the effective use of residential and public spaces as we age. 

We will focus particular attention on the relationship between built environments and physical and mental health through discussion of physical activity, environmental stress, and habitual behavior. Also, we will examine our relationship to the natural world by considering the restorative benefits of nature, green space, and wilderness, by documenting some of the ecological consequences of human behavior, and by evaluating ways to promote more environmentally sustainable behavior. 

The course adopts an interdisciplinary approach to the study of environment-behavior interactions and has an applied focus, examining how principles derived from research can be used to improve human health and quality of life and mitigate the impact of human behavior on natural systems.

Dr. Graham Cousens is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Drew University. He earned a Ph.D., M.A., and B.A. in Psychology from Rutgers University, and he conducted research in neuroscience as a post-doctoral fellow at Yale School of Medicine and at the University of California, San Francisco.

Graham’s research uses electrophysiological and behavioral techniques to examine how the brain represents sensory information, focusing particularly on the sense of smell. Areas of current research interest include assessing the contribution of olfaction to our multisensory experience of place and to the perception of wine aroma compounds.  He is currently working on publications related to the remote sensing of sniffing behavior and to instructing undergraduate students about the chemical senses. He has published numerous articles in neuroscience journals and has presented at many conferences and workshops.

Graham also has strong interests in psychological and public health approaches to health behavior and the impact of environmental factors on physical health, brain health, and subjective well-being. This summer he will explore “Environmental Psychology” in Australian socio-cultural and public policy contexts through a journey with Drew students around New South Wales and Queensland, taking advantage of accessible urban centers, natural areas, and unique wildlife. Students will also learn about the individual and cultural importance of ties to the land for Indigenous Australians, as well as the impact of displacement from traditional land on social and emotional well-being. 

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