Pamela Harwood is a Professor in the College of Architecture and Planning at Ball State University and a registered architect and principal in the award-winning firm Harwood + Tabberson Architects. Professor Harwood’s primary research is in the area of educational environments, and a recent outdoor classroom project called Nature Play: Into the Woods with Design Thinking will be the focus of her talk.
Nature Play is a multi-year project that involved the research, design, and construction of a nature-based outdoor learning environment for Head Start conducted through coursework with students. Framing community engagement through project-based teaching was paramount to the education process. Professor Harwood believes that this commitment to engaging a multiplicity of voices empowers students and ennobles scholarship. Putting research into action guided work in the design-build outdoor learning classroom with the primary goal of re-connecting children with the natural world by making developmentally appropriate nature-based education an enriching and sustainable part of their daily lives. In this interdisciplinary, team-taught, community-centered course designed around a real world need, the team sought to bridge a disconnect in academia that has been found between disciplines, students, faculty, and community.