UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Landscapes for transformation : a framework for planning greening design strategies in low-income schools in Chile Valdebenito, Maria Jose


The design of the physical environment has the potential to impede or enhance learning outcomes. The outdoor environments of low-income schools in Chile in particular often suffer from physical neglect, where barren expanses of asphalt that offer little to no stimulus for children are found. Researchers have noted that children may be increasingly lacking access and contact with nature, resulting in alienation from the natural world. Reintroducing nature into school grounds may bring several cognitive, psychological, and health benefits for children including an increased ability to concentrate and reduced stress and aggression levels. Beyond these benefits, researchers agree that the direct involvement of students in a greening process can spur environmental awareness and allow them to acquire skills related to democracy, participation and citizenship, and carry these skills into adulthood to become engaged and responsible members of their communities. This thesis provides a framework for planning a school ground greening process. The thesis aims to support school administrators in their goal to provide enhanced and greener learning environments for children. The thesis analyzed three case studies of greened low-income schools in Chile to identify cross cutting aspects between them relevant to accomplish change. The results indicated that applicable actions can be grouped in four categories; building engagement, aligning management, integrating curriculum, and creating partnerships. The proposed framework synthesizes relevant aspects within each of these categories, yielding important findings. First, a greening process is successful only as it involves and engages the entire school community including children, teachers, parents, neighbors, administrators, and the broader community of stakeholders. Second, in order to effectively sustain design outcomes, these need to be firmly connected to the curriculum during the planning, use and maintenance stages of the greening process, with teachers providing interdisciplinary learning opportunities. Finally, it is necessary that educational authorities convey a clear and strong message for schools by providing supportive greening policies, which is the only way to make these processes effective and become mainstream. The thesis aims to aid policymakers in these efforts.

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