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Environmental Design Library @ UC Berkeley

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Social & Cultural Factors in Environmental Design

Social & Cultural Factors in Environmental Design is a strategic bibliographic guide for UC Berkeley students (in particular, students in Architecture 110/210 and Landscape Architecture 140) researching social, cultural, and psychological factors in environmental design. The guide emphasizes resources pertaining to the San Francisco Bay Area and California. For a broader view of the U.S., see American Cultural Landscapes. For additional assistance please consult the Environmental Design Library reference staff, 210 Wurster Hall.

Quick Facts
Topical Bibliographies
Research Guides
Background Readings
Interpreting the Built Environment
Using Images
Post-Occupancy Evaluation
Finding Books
Finding Journal Articles
Finding News Articles
Visual Resources, Maps, & Images
Archives & Historical Societies
Finding Statistics & Data

UC Berkeley faculty, registered students, and staff who are off campus may use items marked UCB Only or UC Only by using The Library's off-campus access services.

Compiled by Deborah Sommer and Elizabeth D. Byrne. Content updated December 2013 by Neda Salem.

Getting Started Quick Facts | Topical Bibliographies | Research Guides | Background Readings | Libraries

Quick Facts

Here is a selection of specialized dictionaries and encyclopedias for factual background information on your topic.

Topical Bibliographies

Specialized bibliographies can help you find publications on your topic. Also look for bibliographies in books as well as in journal and encyclopedia articles.

Research Guides

Here is a selected list of environmental design research guides to UC Berkeley library and web resources. See also Environmental Design Library Research Guides for a complete list of subject guides and other useful research tools.

Topical research guides. A selection of UC Berkeley Library bibliographic research guides.

Background Readings

Here is a brief selection of books and articles that talk about application of social science research methodologies to design.


See the guide Finding Local Information for selected links to California and San Francisco Bay Area public libraries.

UC Berkeley campus libraries. Here is a selection of campus libraries whose collections support your research.

Research Methods Interpreting the Built Environment | Interviewing | Using Images | Post-Occupancy Evaluation

Interpreting the Built Environment
Using Images & Maps for Research - Remember: Images may be protected by copyright.
Post-Occupancy Evaluation

Research Sources Books | Journal Articles | News Articles | Visual Resources | Archives & Historical Societies | Statistics & Data

Finding Books

Consult the Guide to library catalogs for help choosing which UC library catalogs to use, and how to use them. If we don't own what you need, try the Interlibrary borrowing service - UCB Only.

Melvyl catalog is your best first place to look for books on your topic. Melvyl provides excellent coverage of the UC Berkeley libraries, as well as the other nine UC campuses and selected other libraries, and supports excellent keyword searching.
tip Use the Advanced Search in the library catalogs, which allows you to combine keywords, authors, subject headings and more, and to limit by date, language, etc. To locate materials in libraries not listed in the Melvyl catalog, use WorldCat - UC Only via OCLC/FirstSearch.

Subject headings are helpful for researching topics on the social and cultural aspects of environmental design. Searches on broad subject headings will bring up related and more specific (narrower) search terms. Compiling a list of alternative terms and synonyms will facilitate searching for the most relevant material. Broader terms can also be used in conjunction with subheadings to limit the results of a search.

Architectural design
Architectural practice
Architecture and society
Cities and towns
City and town life
City planning
Environment (Aesthetics)
Environmental psychology
Human ecology
Landscape architecture
Landscape assessment
Open spaces
Public spaces
Space (architecture)
Spatial behavior
Urban anthropology
Urban landscape architecture

Narrow your searches with the addition of place names and/or some useful stock phrases, e.g., Architecture--Cross-cultural studies). Here is a selection of subject subheadings:

Case studies
Citizen participation
Cross-cultural studies
Design and construction
Designs and plans
Economic aspects
Environmental aspects
Handbooks, manuals
Human factors
Pictorial works
Psychological aspects
Social aspects
Social life and customs

Finding books on special topics

Finding Journal Articles

Use journal and newspaper indexes and databases to discover articles on your topic. Some online databases include the full text of the articles you discover or the UC eLinks button image icon which may lead you to the full text elsewhere. In many cases, however, you will need to locate the print journal in the Library's collections; search the Library's catalogs by the journal title in order to find the shelving location and call number for the journal. If we don't own what you need, try the Interlibrary borrowing service - UCB Only.

Find an article by citation

Journal article indexes. The study of social and cultural factors in environmental design is highly multidisciplinary. See the following web guides for recommended indexes by discipline.

Social and cultural aspects. The following periodical indexes are especially helpful in identifying articles on the social and cultural aspects of environmental design.

Finding News Articles

Local newspapers are vital sources of information on their communities. Increasingly, recent issues are available full text through the Web or other databases. Several databases have historical indexes and/or full text for newspapers. From The Library's home page, see Electronic Resources→News Databases, for a comprehensive list of online news databases available to UC Berkeley students.

Visual Resources & Maps

Note that archives are often excellent sources of images. See the Using Images for Research section of this guide, for information on doing visual research.

Archives & Historical Societies Archives | Historical Societies

Excellent sources of primary research materials


Archival and other original materials are often difficult to locate, so check in directories of archives and special collections to locate manuscripts, drawings and other unpublished materials. See Archival Collections & Primary Source Databases for additional archival sources.

Using archival materials

Finding archival materials

Selected archival collections in California
Historical Societies

Finding historical societies

Selected local historical societies
tip Many community libraries have rich local history collections.

Finding Statistics & Data

Here's a small selection of statistical resources. For a more comprehensive list, including some full text, see Statistics & data for city planning: United States (American focus with a California emphasis).