Partnering for Climate Action

The motto in the Environmental Design Lab is healthy places for everyone. We explore connections between human health and wellbeing and our built environments. Through our work, we help to conceive of and create healthy spaces for people to play, learn, work, and live. In this era of rapid, anthropogenic climate change, we must also consider the ways our built environments can support not only our own health and wellbeing but that of our planet.

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Building Healthy Environments

The Environmental Design Lab has long been exploring the ways that our built environments impact our mental, emotional, and physical health.

Projects include:

  • Healthy Activities Partnership Program for Youth (HAPPY)
  • Obesity Prevention Initiative (OPI)

Connecting Youth to their Environments

Today’s youth will help to guide us through the future in a world of rapid climate change. Building strong relationships between children and their environments is crucial in helping them develop a sense of stewardship over our planet. The Environmental Design Lab has worked on a diverse array of projects that help children learn in, engage with, and find comfort in the outdoors.

Projects include:

  • Bad River Cultural Playground
  • Healthy Activities Partnership Program for Youth (HAPPY)
  • Place-based Environmental Education in Latin America

Global School Gardens Partnership

School and youth garden education is helping to grow the next generation of stewards. In youth gardens, students develop connections with the space, have opportunities to observe–and contribute to–seasonal changes to the landscape, and build self-efficacy and identity as stewards of their land.

Environmental Design Lab staff Dr. Samuel Dennis, Nathan Larson, Renata Solan, and Alex Wells received a Wisconsin Without Boarders award in 2020 for work growing relationships and sharing best practices, ideas, and successful models related to garden-based education between school garden partners and networks in Wisconsin and Chiapas, México. Partners in this collaboration will continue to engage in exchanges and knowledge-sharing through their programs and networks including LabVida, the Chiapas School Garden Network, Wisconsin School Garden NetworkSchool Garden Support Organization Network, and Red Internacional de Heurtos Escolares.

Growing Urban Forests

The Environmental Design Lab is partnering with the Urban Tree Alliance and colleagues at the Wisconsin DNR, Dane County, City of Madison, and UW-Madison to build an urban forestry coalition focused on growing a more equitable and robust tree canopy throughout Madison and Dane County.