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To what extent does the built environment impact human health and wellbeing? How can we create settings that promote health and wellness for individuals, families, and communities?
Our lab tackles these question on two mutually-reinforcing fronts. One branch explores the extent to which places support the health and wellbeing of people and the mechanisms through which this support occurs.

We ask: what are the costs to a community of having little or no green space available to its citizens? How might a community improve the health of its citizens by planting and maintaining a healthy urban forest? What is the shape of the dose-response curve for exposure to green space on human physiological and psychological measures of stress and wellness?

We conduct our work in urban areas, at the rural-urban fringe, in public housing neighborhoods, and from within a State of Illinois penitentiary.

Our research demonstrates that everyday contact with urban green spaces—places with trees, grass, gardens, and the like—has profound, positive impacts for individuals and communities. These green spaces need not be large or pristine to convey a variety of broad-ranging out-comes. They must, however, be easily accessible from a person’s home or workplace.

A portion of this research is conducted with our collaborators — Dr. Chun-Yen Chang’s
Health People-Healthy Landscapes Lab at National Taiwan University.

The other branch of our research examines and offers policy recommendations regarding the processes by which we can create such supportive settings. This work demonstrates that ordinary citizens can play a much larger role in creating sustainable, healthy environments than has been supposed.

Within both branches of research, our work is informed by theories from environmental psychology and landscape planning. We use a variety of research methods such as participant observation and mapping, surveys, in-depth interviews, photo-simulations, analysis of archival data and physiological measures of stress and wellbeing.

You can read articles that examine these questions by clicking here.

We welcome new collaborators.

Return to William Sullivan’s homepage.
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The Sustainability and Human Health Lab, Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Illinois, Spring 2013.