Social scientists & architects collaborate to link equity and learning to educational spaces

Sara Grant (left) and Evie Klein (middle) are presented with the Citation for Design Excellence by Jennifer Sage, the AIANY Vice President for Design Excellence.

On December 5th, the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIANY) conferred a Vice President’s Citation for Design Excellence on a collaborative research project between architects and social scientists currently underway at Medgar Evers College, CUNY.

The study is led by Evie Klein, Eleanor Luken, and Troy Simpson, who are current Environmental Psychology doctoral students and co-founders of the User Design Information Group (UDIG) at the Center for Human Environments (CHE) at the Graduate Center. The architects collaborating on the project are Sara Grant (partner at Murphy, Burnham & Buttrick) and Marta Sanders (partner at Architecture Outfit).

The Medgar Evers College Collaborative Research Project focuses on higher education spaces outside the classroom and on data collected via field research. The project is exploring how the design of campus spaces can support student-faculty relationships and student retention; ways of using social science methods to better understand the values and culture of higher education environments; and how such spaces contribute to advancing common goals of the campus community.

To link physical spaces and social transformation, the research team is taking several steps, including engaging students as researchers, undertaking ethnographic fieldwork, and making impact evaluations of the physical and procedural changes to the space associated with the study.

The AIANY citation was awarded to two committees of the AIANY who play key roles in the research project: the Social Science + Architecture Committee (SS+A), which Klein founded in 2016 with Melissa Marsh, and the Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE). The aim of the collaboration is to demonstrate that a design based on rigorous social science research methods can have a measurable impact on the social goals of an educational institution.

This project aligns with UDIG’s goal of connecting environmental psychology scholars with architects, planners, and communities to develop research that informs and promotes equitable design initiatives. On the Medgar Evers project, Klein, Luken, and Simpson are providing expertise in social science methodologies of data collection and analysis in coordination with the traditionally rigorous architectural methods of observation and problem solving through design.

The research team also includes two current Medgar Evers undergraduate students with support from campus faculty and senior administration staff.

Fall 2017 Brown Bag Schedule


Spring 2017 Brown Bag Schedule


Program Alumnus Roberta Feldman Receives Leadership Award

Roberta MoMA croppedThe Environmental Psychology program would like to congratulate alumnus Roberta M. Feldman, Ph.D. on her reception of Architectural Record’s Women in Architecture Design Leadership Award. Roberta was selected for the 2016 honor as an Activist, given to an architect who has used her skills to design for social change and effect the public realm. The award will be presented on November 2, 2016 in New York City.
Congrats, Roberta!

Fall 2016: Brown Bag Schedule

CUNY_Brown Bag (1)

RESEARCH SPOTLIGHT: Young children’s play in urban areas


sruthi 1Sruthi Atmakur-Javdekar’s background in architecture and landscape architecture enables her to focus on improving the quality of built environments, particularly for children and young people. Through her work, Sruthi aims to influence local and national policies related to children’s rights, urban planning and design. Sruthi is a Ph.D. candidate in the Environmental Psychology program where her dissertation research focuses on evaluating play opportunities available for young children from middle-class families living in urban high-rise buildings in fast-growing cities of urban India.

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While working on her dissertation research in Pune city, India, Sruthi continues to engage in research and scholarship with colleagues at The Graduate Center in the capacity of a research associate with the Children’s Environments Research Group (CERG) at the Center for Human Environments.

Sruthi is currently co-directing and directing projects related to the CERG-Plan’s Score Cards project and Child Friendly Places approach in communities across the world. Having worked closely with Dr. Pamela Wridt and sruthi 3Dr. Roger Hart in the development of the Child Friendly Places (CFP) approach, Sruthi currently coordinates work related to the same. Research related to the CFP approach implemented in Mumbai and Bhavnagar cities of India in 2013 – 2014 was recently published in a peer-reviewed journal. You can access the article ‘Spatializing Children’s Rights: A Comparison of Two Case Studies from Urban India’

Furthermore, Sruthi and her CERG colleague, Bijan Kimiagar currently co-direct the Score Cardssruthi 4 methodology with Plan International, which is an adaptation of the Child Friendly Places approach. During December 2015, in association with Plan International, Sruthi and her CERG colleagues, Bijan Kimiagar and Aysenur Ataman travelled to Benin, West Africa to conduct training workshops for adolescent girls and boys, and adults including Plan staff from Benin, Togo, Rwanda and Burkina Faso in the Score Cards approach.

Also, more recently, in March 2016, Sruthi conducted an evaluation study in New Delhi, India, to help assess the feasibility of using digital technologies to implement the Score Cards approach, which is an adaptation of CERG’s Child Friendly Places methodology. The outcomes from this study are underway including findings to develop a final proposal to digitize the Score Cards approach, in addition to recommendations for digitalizing the Child Friendly Places approach.

If you are interested in learning more about Sruthi’s work or any of the CERG projects mentioned above, please feel free to reach out at You can also access Sruthi’s CV here. Further, follow Sruthi on Twitter and Linkedin.


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EP Student Kristen Hackett elected as Chair-Elect/Chair to SPSSI GSC

herg headshotIn the fall of 2015 Environmental Psychology student Kristen Hackett was elected as Chair-Elect (S.Y. 2015/2016) and Chair (S.Y. 2016/2017) of the Graduate Student Committee of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI).   SPSSI, Division 9 of the American Psychological Association, is a good fit both professionally and academically.  As a graduate student, her research has been underpinned by an unwavering commitment to understanding, documenting, and confronting issues of social injustice (i.e. homelessness and housing policy, equitable urban development, institutional discrimination).  Indeed, her decision to pursue graduate school hinged on my desire to be in a position to address the important social issues of our time. spssilogo Beyond research, she has taken on multiple leadership roles in the last five years, serving as a student representative on our program’s Executive Committee during her first two years, as Program Representative on our university-wide Doctoral Student Council the following year, and as an At-Large Representative for the same council in her 4th year.  Duties for the position include representing graduate student concerns at the SPSSI council meetings, and working with the Graduate Student Committee to bring information and conference programming to graduate students that will help them continue to conduct research that has life and voice beyond the academy, and incites real world change.  Feel free to contact her at with any questions about the organization, or if you’d like to get involved in SPSSI more!

Spring 2016 Brown Bag Schedule

Join us for these exciting events this Spring!


Hannah Jaicks receives award from International Research Fund

Soon-to-be defending EP student Hannah Jaicks was recently the recipient of an award from the Sarah Baker Memorial Fund.  This fund is distributed by the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y), a joint Canada-U.S. not-for-profit organization that connects and protects habitat from Yellowstone to Yukon so people and nature can thrive. The Sarah Baker grants support student projects that advance Y2Y’s conservation strategy and result in tangible benefits within the region. Besides the benefits they bring to the region and our organization, the knowledge and experience students acquire can enhance their resumes and further their careers.  Congratulations Hannah!

Continue reading for more information on Hannah’s work, Y2Y and the Sarah Baker Memorial Fund.

Project Information: Crossroads Conservation: Identifying Solutions to the Cultural Barriers of Transportation Agencies so Internal Champions of Wildlife Crossings Can Thrive

My project will enable conservationists to effectively address institutional barriers that prevent transportation agencies from consistently incorporating wildlife crossings into their plans and projects for roads in the Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) region. Mitigation of wildlife-vehicle collisions via crossing structures should be a standard practice rather than an exception to the rule. Highways are among the greatest barriers to wildlife movement in the Y2Y region. They are also killers, with an estimated 1-2 million wildlife vehicle collisions occurring annually in the U.S. alone. Despite these pervasive and costly consequences, results from two recent studies led by the Western Transportation Institute revealed that transportation agencies are inconsistent in their deployment of wildlife crossings to mitigate these concerns. The causes for this inconsistency are two-fold. First, it is not part of transportation agencies’ mission to conserve wildlife. Second, few conservation organizations in the Y2Y region have the expertise or capacity to address this issue. Whereas conservationists are well-versed in participating in, and influencing, forest management or recreational development decisions, few groups understand the perspectives and prerogatives of transportation agencies in regards to wildlife. Thus, this study will examine the organizational psychology of transportation departments in the Y2Y region to reveal the institutional barriers that obstruct these agencies’ implementation of wildlife mitigation measures and identify potential solutions for surmounting these obstacles. This research will culminate in a professional report for conservation professionals on how to effectively influence transportation agencies and their plans and projects to ensure consistent deployment of crossing structures.

Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative

CarnivoreWorkingGroupThe Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y) is a joint Canada-U.S. not-for-profit organization that connects and protects habitat from Yellowstone to Yukon so people and nature can thrive. They are the only organization dedicated to securing the long-term ecological health of this entire region. Y2Y takes a scientific and collaborative approach[] to conservation, and highlight and focus on local issues that affect the region. They have worked with more than 300 partners[], including scientists, conservation groups, landowners, businesses, government agencies as well as First Nations and Native American communities to stitch together this landscape.

Without a unified vision for this deeply interconnected landscape, local conservation efforts may be isolated and less effective. Y2Y seeks to ensure conservation efforts are aligned in support of large-scale objectives, and therefore become continentally significant. Today, Y2Y is recognized as one of the planet’s leading mountain conservation initiatives.

Sarah Baker Memorial Fund

The Sarah Baker grants support student projects that advance Y2Y’s conservation strategy and result in tangible benefits within the region. Besides the benefits they bring to the region and our organization, the knowledge and experience students acquire can enhance their resumes and further their careers. Sarah Jocelyn Baker’s appreciation for the natural world and ability to find solutions resonate with the aspirations and vision of Y2Y. They are honored to carry her spirit forward through the Sarah Baker Memorial Fund. Thanks to a gift from her extended family, Y2Y is able to offer grants to post-secondary students pursuing environmentally related studies in any post-secondary institution.



A Brief Introduction to Alum Gregory Donovan


Curriculum Vitae

Gregory is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Media Studies as well as an affiliate faculty member of the New Media and Digital Design Program and the Urban Law Center at Fordham University. His research broadly explores the mutual shaping of people, place, and proprietary media, and how to reorient such shaping toward more just and meaningful publics. His work has been published in peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes and he has presented juried papers widely at US and international conferences. He is currently conducting a critical ethnography of municipal WiFi in NYC with a specific focus on understanding young people’s access to, and expectations for, public internet access. Gregory is also a member of the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy’s Editorial Collective and co-editor with Suzanne Tamang of JITP5: Media and Methods for Opening Education (

As a doctoral student, Gregory founded the OpenCUNY Academic Medium and was a researcher at the Public Science Project, a fellow at the Center for Place, Culture and Politics, and a Senior Instructional Technology Fellow at the Macaulay Honors College. His dissertation, MyDigitalFootprint.ORG: Young People and the Proprietary Ecology of Everyday Data, investigated young New Yorkers’ relations with proprietary media to unpack the ways matters of socioeconomic injustice are reproduced and sustained through the daily interaction of youth, place, and media. Since completing his doctorate he has remained active in the Graduate Center community as the student speaker for the 2013 Commencement Ceremony, the keynote speaker for the 2014 Orientation Assembly, and currently serving on the 2017-2022 Strategic Planning Committee. Gregory holds a doctorate in Environmental Psychology with a doctoral certificate in Interactive Technology and Pedagogy from the CUNY Graduate Center.
You can find Gregory on the web at and on Twitter at @gdonovan.

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