Introducing the Campus Resilience Series

by Katharyn Hurd, Associate ASLA

Students in a new course at the Stanford Educational Farm called Liberation Through Land: Organic Gardening and Racial Justice meet under the oak trees with visiting alumni. / image: L.A. Cicero via Stanford News Service

The Campus Planning & Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) is kicking off a blog and Online Learning webinar series on campus resilience. We want to hear your ideas, concerns, and strategies for approaching this broad and complex topic. Please share with us by contacting PPN Co-Chairs Laura Tenny, ASLA, and Katharyn Hurd, ASLA. We’d love to bring you all into the discussion on this important and timely topic.

Many universities have begun discussions around sustainability and creating a more resilient physical campus. Defining resilience is the first, and often most difficult, step. For many campuses, resilience is defined by developing long-term strategies to respond to climate change impacts. It also may include goals to reduce reliance on precious resources and vulnerable infrastructure. Working toward these objectives is essential to the long-term survival of an institution.

We’ve seen the catastrophic impacts of natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, mudslides, and wildfires within the past year. These events have been a jarring wake-up call for those of us working on campuses. Universities, in particular, are typically rooted in their locations for the very long term. It’s rare for a university campus to pick up and move somewhere else. Therefore, planning for both known and unknown future impacts is a critical survival strategy for any institution that intends to remain in place and operate effectively.

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Campus Constants, Digital Flux

In campus planning, technology offers new ways to gather and interpret data. The Page discovery tool is an online survey tool developed by our office that allows students, faculty, and staff to share their favorite places to eat, study, and play as well as their preferred routes through campus. It also helps to flag areas that aren’t working for the campus and should be addressed in future planning. image: Katharyn Hurd, Andrew Sullivan
In campus planning, technology offers new ways to gather and interpret data. The Page discovery tool is an online survey tool developed by our office that allows students, faculty, and staff to share their favorite places to eat, study, and play as well as their preferred routes through campus. It also helps to flag areas that aren’t working for the campus and should be addressed in future planning.
image: Katharyn Hurd, Andrew Sullivan

Technology has without a doubt transformed many of the methods and practices planners and designers use when approaching any project. This is particularly true on college campuses, as the field of education embraces technology to better serve and engage with students. However, there are some negative impacts from immersion in technology. The campus landscape provides an increasingly essential antidote to today’s tech-overload with its ability to facilitate social connection and provide restoration.

Technology in Campus Planning and Design

In addition to functioning as repositories for history and tradition, campuses are typically places that value innovation and creativity. Thus, technology is often embraced and incorporated into campuses more quickly than many environments. Experimentation, learning, and engagement drive the integration of technology into the built environment to test how it might best serve the campus community.

We are also increasingly seeing studies that indicate that excessive technology device use can have detrimental physical and mental health effects such as fatigue, stress, depression, insomnia, chronic pain, and others. See the Illinois News Bureau, Academic Earth, Time, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, USA Today, Harvard Health Publications, and Psychology Today for a few examples. Studies have also suggested that spending time engaging with the natural environment provides an array of benefits that may counteract the negative impacts of technology use, including improved physical fitness, vision, concentration, critical thinking, creativity, academic performance, mood, immunity, and social behavior.

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