Curriculum development in health and the built environment: creating a multidisciplinary platform to enhance knowledge and engagement

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Archnet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research

Publication Date



Purpose Our lived experiences are complex, dynamic and increasingly connected locally and globally through virtual realities that call for an evolution and responsiveness from the field of architecture education. To ensure future built environments are designed to nurture healing and health, this paper aims to address a critical need in architecture education to integrate knowledge of health and social-behavioral disciplines in students' course work. The authors will outline the process of preparing a new multidisciplinary course on health and the built environment (HBE) at the School of Architecture and Planning at Morgan State University in Baltimore, USA, as an effort to challenge the barriers of discipline-specific pathways to learning in the field of architecture. Design/methodology/approach The central question is how to develop an active learning pedagogy to foster a multidisciplinary learning environment focused on the “practice” (how to) of human-design-oriented approaches to improve the capability of built and natural environments to promote health and healing. The course intentionally centered on the real-life experiences of students to ground their new understanding of health and well-being fields. The course proposal went through an extensive peer-review process of reviewers from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and other departments at Morgan State University to ensure a balance between health- and architecture-specific curricula with a transdisciplinary approach to understanding complex health issues. Findings This paper shows the effectiveness of tools and techniques applied in the course to challenge architectural students to integrate various health and behavior perspectives in their designs and to apply health and healing principals to their current and future design projects. Originality/value While there are courses in American universities that offer a traditional introduction to health concerns related to the built environment, there is limited focus on the perspective of the design field approach to improve health and healing outcomes.




Education, Health


Urban Studies and Planning