Date of Award

5-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Plants, Soils, and Insects

Major Professor

Susan L. Hamilton

Committee Members

Mary L. Albrecht, Caula A. Beyl, Joanne Logan

Abstract

Research has shown that plants and the landscapes around us impact our lives. Plants have been shown to reduce anxiety and blood pressure, and to have mentally restorative and psychological benefits. These benefits can include but are not limited to improving our ability to cope with stress and improving our ability to focus and concentrate. During the formative years of higher education, the physical grounds of our campuses have the potential to provide these restorative benefits. Understanding how these landscapes are maintained can provide useful information for their improvement. In regards to campus grounds maintenance, select peer institutions of the University of Tennessee are similar in their employment structure and tend to hire low-­‐wage and low-­‐skill workers to provide the day-­‐to-­‐day upkeep of campus grounds. This can impact the overall quality of these iconic landscapes. A multi-­‐stage training program is proposed to elevate the skill level of these workers. These campus landscapes also have the opportunity to passively and actively educate students. Unfortunately, beyond the natural sciences, little effort has been given to outdoor teaching resources that could potentially be used by all academic disciplines. Thirteen individual outdoor teaching resources were identified as needed by those with teaching responsibilities on the University of Tennessee campus. This research suggests a model of how a university can establish and maintain its campus grounds as a significant and dynamic outdoor classroom and laboratory for an array of academic disciplines, coupled with improving the overall quality of the campus aesthetic.

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