Around November of 2012 I started having conversations with Professor Eva Simms at Duquesne University. We met through the Society for Phenomenology and the Human Sciences (SPHS) mailing list. Then we got talking with Alex Kranjec, a relatively new faculty member who does fascinating work in a neuroscience lab. This is pretty unusual for Duquesne, which takes its psychology more along the lines of the Human Sciences. Together, we decided to start a research group mostly for our own interests and concerns, and to share things in common.
Well, it has really taken off. Already we have been involved in writing and submitting a grant in conjunction with the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, marrying quantitative data collection (biometric data from wireless wristband sensors) and qualitative data (guided walkthroughs charting the emotional landscape) of a park in the Hill District in Pittsburgh. We have a research model that we’re ready to roll out, and the potential for this is huge. Gauging the spaces of fear and anxiety in urban green spaces, categorizing particular design features, and producing recommendations for future design and renovation. We have the support of the Hill House community center and also we’re going to gather data of use to the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.
The research group meets every week and already some Duquesne psychology students are on board, as are a couple of Pitt students doing Communication. Anyone else who wants to know more, or join us, feel free to contact us.
The blog for the new research group is here – Spatial Aesthetics Research Group