Date of Award

December 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Josef Stagg

Committee Members

Brian Schermer, James Wasley, Whitney Moon


Behavioral Design, Ecological Design


This research addresses how architectural design processes and practices are implicated and/or reflected in social constructions of ecological thinking. It is generally recognized that human behaviors are affecting climate change and giving rise to a plethora of ecological issues; yet a transformation of widespread behavior has not yet followed. This raises questions. In the field of architecture, how can the built landscape function to encourage and support sustainable behavior patterns?

Looking at universities as locations that are embedded in their urban contexts and have influence both on their surrounding communities and on year after year of students who pass through, this study examines a specific instance where a university building-type can help to affect normative change. Through an examination and comparison of four residence halls in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, this dissertation examines how the built environments of these residence halls can play an active role in sustainable behavioral learning. Using a framework based on ecological behavior theories to analyze data collected from surveys and focus groups, this research tries to uncover moments in the daily life of the residence hall students where the built landscape can directly or indirectly affect sustainable behavior patterns and ecological learning. The goal of this study is to highlight the potential for architectural design to participate in the growth of students’ ecological identities through the development of a series of ecological architectural design patterns.