Monday, October 24, 2016

Policies for Action (P4A) today announced $248,250 in grant funding for a research project on which Lynne Dearborn, PhD, associate professor in the School of Architecture, College of Fine and Applied Arts, will serve as co-principal investigator, along with the principal investigator, Sherry Ahrentzen, PhD, professor at the University of Florida Shimberg Center for Housing Studies. With funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Policies for Action program and coordination from the Urban Institute, P4A supports policy and law research with the aim of building a Culture of Health. Ahrentzen and Dearborn’s project is one of six funded by P4A, and is the sole project to include an architectural design professional—Dearborn—as a researcher. It is also the only project based at public land-grant research universities. Other funded projects feature research in business, economics, medicine, public policy, and social work.

Ahrentzen and Dearborn’s project will assess how states are using incentives and other program criteria to advance healthier housing for low-income and vulnerable populations. They will focus on how state housing policies—specifically, approaches to using Low-Income Housing Tax Credits—address characteristics of the built environment at the scales of neighborhood and individual housing units. They aim to gain a better understanding of how application of these credits can prompt design and construction of healthier affordable housing.

Dearborn’s research focuses on the mutual interaction of people and their environments, particularly the relationship between residential environments and cultural change. Her work and courses address issues of social justice, equity among minority peoples, engaging physical, social, economic, and political aspects of the environment to address human health and wellbeing as well as the preservation of cultural heritage. She is former chair of the School of Architecture’s Health and Well-being Program Area, and she currently leads a multidisciplinary faculty team from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that last year was named an inaugural member of the American Institute of Architects’ Design and Health Research Consortium.

This research project exemplifies how School of Architecture faculty and students approach society’s challenges by searching for solutions at the intersection of research and design. Grounded in a legacy of educational excellence stretching back nearly 150 years, the school has grown to engage design research and instruction across a range of scales and in a number of interrelated areas, principally environmental stewardship, urbanization, building performance, fabrication, technological change, and health. With a curriculum that motivates achievement of technically rigorous design, the school’s graduates are positioned to take leading roles in the profession of architecture and allied fields.

Home to seven arts-focused units including the School of Architecture, the College of Fine and Applied Arts is dedicated to the advancement, practice, and understanding of the arts. The central focus of the college is the synergy between research and the preparation of students for professional careers in the creation and interpretation of the environmental, visual, and performing arts. Deeply related to that focus is the commitment to elevate and sustain the study of the arts as both a necessary mode of understanding and a vibrant expression of human experience within the local, national, and international communities.