Special Issue, Cross-listed in Frontiers in Education (Educational Psychology) and Frontiers in Psychology (Environmental Psychology, Educational Psychology)
Special Issue Title:
Building Foundations: How Neighborhood Social and Built Environment Factors Impact Children’s Learning
Parisa Parsafar, Ph.D. (Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development;email@example.com)
Brett Miller, Ph.D. (Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Overall aims of the Special Issue:
The structured environments in which children live influence their future trajectories in intricate ways. Neighborhoods and zip codes can predict children’s likelihood of later success and are linked to outcomes as broad as problem behaviors, risk for incarceration, and earning potential. The focus for this special issue will be on characterizing how the built and social environments relate to and impact processes that underlie learning and academic achievement – factors that moderate and mediate the association between the built and social environments and learning outcomes. The intent is to motivate a focus beyond the individual and family or dyadic relationships to understand how the broader structural and systemic features of a child’s environment shape the way they learn. The goal of this work would be to examine potentially malleable environmental features that can be targeted through programs and policies to benefit children’s learning and achievement outcomes, with an emphasis on populations of underserved children in low-resource environments.
Abstracts are due December 30, 2021
Manuscripts are due April 30, 2022
The Guest Editors will review the abstracts for fit with the Special Issue focus and will work to provide a cohesive set of papers that will inform our understanding of the role that built and social environments play in children’s learning.
This proposed thematic issue encourages manuscripts investigating specific feature(s) of the built or social environment and how they jointly or independently relate to individual differences in cognitive or social and emotional processes that are known to underlie learning and achievement. These processes can include attention, memory, elaboration, executive functioning processes, underlying brain architecture and the neurological underpinnings of learning, social and emotional processes that are directly linked to learning outcomes, and engagement and motivation. The goal of this work would be to examine potentially malleable environmental features that can be targeted through programs and policies to benefit children’s learning and achievement outcomes, with an emphasis on populations of underserved children in low-resource environments.
The built environment comprises the human-constructed, physical attributes of the spaces in which people live and work (e.g., infrastructure, building and structural features, walkability and recreation, availability of health promoting resources, proximity to liquor stores, fast food restaurants, strip malls). Complementary to the built environment is the social environment, which includes the socioeconomic composition of the resident population and social aspects of neighborhoods (crime, noise, community support, collective efficacy, social cohesion and collaboration for community benefit), social capital (i.e., collective value gained from social networks), and disorder (e.g., presence of trash, graffiti, disorderly groups and/or activity). Understanding how the broader environments in which children live play a role in shaping the way they learn is a needed step to understanding the underlying mechanisms that link environment to developmental outcomes.
The built environment may include but are not limited to:
• Neighborhood noise, crowding, pollution, and density
• Transportation, walkability, green spaces (also car free zones)
• Building infrastructure and structural features (also disrepair, dilapidation)
• Utility infrastructure and delivery (e.g., lighting, water, sewage)
• Physical design of spaces in which children live and grow
• Proximity to disadvantageous features (e.g., liquor stores, strip malls, freeways, factories, garbage or waste facilities)
The neighborhood social environment may include but is not limited to:
• Social cohesion
• Crime and violence
• Social capital
• Disorderliness and disrepair (graffiti vandalism, trash)
• Community-based programming
• Collective efficacy
• Structural discrimination (residential, housing, criminal justice policies, structural ableism)