Understanding the Studley Quad: Uses and Potential Betterment Group Research Project Final Report
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This study aimed to identify how members of the Dalhousie community are currently using the Studley Quad. More specifically, the intent of this research is to discover the ways in which the Studley Quad is being used and how we can increase these uses. Throughout this paper, green space will be defined as “..publicly accessible areas with natural vegetation, such as grass, plants or trees ”(Lachowycz & Jones, 2013, p.62) . For the purpose of this study, the Studley Quad is being classified as a green space. An extensive amount of research has shown that there is a strong correlation between green space and mental health. We are defining mental health according to the World Health Organization's definition which is “a state of well being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community,” (2017). Located in Halifax Nova Scotia, Dalhousie University is the largest university in the city with upwards of 18,000 students (Dalhousie University, n.d.). As Dalhousie is an older campus, there is an increasing priority to pursue updated environmental health and safety standards to assure safe spaces for users. To achieve this, Dalhousie has created several policy documents to guide healthy and sustainable design on campus (Dalhousie Campus Master Plan, 2010 & Dalhousie Natural Environment Plan, 2014). The Studley Quad is an urban green space in the center of Dalhousie’s main Halifax campus, and it connects many campus buildings making it a popular commuter route. The purpose of this study is to identify how Dalhousie students are currently using the Studley Quad to determine how these uses can be increased. As access to green space can positively impact mental health and wellbeing, Dalhousie students will benefit from the improvement of this green space (Nutsford, Pearson, & Kingham, 2013). Using non-probabilistic surveying methods, we gained insight on students’ attitudes towards the Studley Quad using a questionnaire, in addition to evaluating behavioural observations on the site. To analyze our data, frequencies of survey results were tallied and visually presented in the form of graphs and charts. We also executed a Chi Square test to compare reported uses of the space to the uses we observed. Together, these methods allowed us to better understand students’ attitudes towards the Studley Quad based on how students are currently using the space, and determined what would entice them to use this space more. The results of this research confirmed that the majority of Dalhousie students questioned believe that they should have access to green space and that spending time in green spaces has the ability to improve their moods. It was identified that currently, the main use of the Quad is walking; a result of this being that the students using this space to commute are using it infrequently for short periods of time. Our questionnaire determined that poor conditions of the grounds and lack of seating have hindered students usage of the Studley Quad. To improve this, students reported that making the changes they identified would promote them to use the Quad more. The most popular responses for improvements included incorporating more vegetation and increasing seating. This study obtained knowledge on students perceptions on the importance of the Studley Quad. By evaluating observations and questionnaire responses, the results of this study provided essential information on how we can design campus spaces that better serve the needs of the students; encouraging the use of public green spaces.