Courses of Study 2013-2014 
    Jul 24, 2024  
Courses of Study 2013-2014 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Design and Environmental Analysis

In the College of Human Ecology .

Course Offerings  (Note: A minimal charge for photocopied course handouts may be required.)

The Department of Design and Environmental Analysis (DEA) is concerned with planning, designing, and managing the built environment and its effects on human behavior, experience, and the environment itself. The processes for creating, managing, and maintaining the built environment, and the implications for how we live our lives face enormous challenges. These include frequent social and organizational change, technological advances, new building methods, and finite resources. The program in DEA is dedicated to preparing graduates who can help individuals, groups, and organizations meet these challenges.

Diverse faculty backgrounds and teaching approaches help students to develop multidisciplinary problem-solving and creative abilities, aesthetic judgment, and analytical thinking. Students explore innovative concepts for the design and management of interior environments through laboratory, shop, studio, and computer facilities. The relationship between people and their physical surroundings is explored through a combination of academic courses, field experience, and applied research. Examples of student class projects and faculty work are frequently on display in the MVR gallery. The DEA resource center includes books, journals, newsletters, and material samples for student use.


S. Danko, chair (MVR, (607) 255-2144); K. Gibson, director of undergraduate studies; L. Maxwell, director of graduate studies; F. Becker, J. Elliott, P. Eshelman, G. Evans, D. Feathers, R. Gilmore, A. Hedge, Y. Hua,  J. Laquatra, N. Wells, S. Yoon, R. Zadeh

DEA Honors Program:

The honors program, which leads to a B.S. degree with honors in Design and Environmental Analysis, gives official recognition to students who have demonstrated excellence in their academic work and their capacity for independent research. In addition to fulfilling the requirements for their major, students in the honors program prepare and orally defend an honors thesis. Honors students work with a research mentor in preparing for their thesis. Interested students should obtain a DEA Honors Program application form online. For more information, students should visit the DEA website: or contact the DEA Honors Representative, Alan Hedge.


The department offers undergraduate education in three areas: interior design, facility planning and management, and human factors and ergonomics. The interior design option is nationally accredited by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation. The Facility Planning and Management Program at Cornell is an IFMA recognized program. This means that it meets the standards for recognition of programs established by the International Facility Management Association.

To take full advantage of the course sequences and electives, it is important to select an option as early as possible. This is particularly true in the interior design option. Transfer students in the interior design option should plan on a minimum of six semesters at Cornell to complete the program.

Option I: Interior Design:

This option prepares students for professional careers in interior design. The program emphasizes a design process in which innovative solutions are based on research-derived knowledge of human behavior, values, and attitudes. Students develop an understanding of design theory and methods, design history, behaviorally based programming, and post-occupancy evaluation. They learn about design communication, building systems, furnishings, materials and finishes, and professional practice. Students may use their elective courses to develop a specialization in areas such as design history, historic preservation, theory and criticism, design leadership, interactive multimedia, design sustainability, and behavior-based design.

This program also serves as an excellent preparation for graduate study in interior design, facility management, architecture, and industrial design.

Option II: Facility Planning and Management:

This option prepares students for professional careers in facility management. The program focuses on the planning, design, and management of facilities for large, complex organizations such as corporations, health care institutions, research and development laboratories, and universities. Facility planning and management is a basic management function that coordinates and integrates information and expertise from areas such as planning and design, real estate, and business administration with human factors, ergonomics, environmental psychology, telecommunications, and building operations for the purpose of developing and managing facilities that support individual and organizational effectiveness.

Excellent career opportunities exist in the facility management divisions of private companies, institutions, the health care industry, and with private consulting firms offering facility management services. The program is also a good preparation for graduate study in business, planning, or one of the design disciplines and for advanced study in facility planning and management.

Option III: Human Factors and Ergonomics:

This option focuses on the interaction between people, technology, and their physical surroundings. The program seeks to expand understanding of how technology and the environment affects human perception, cognition, motivation, performance, health, safety, and social behavior. This knowledge is then used to help architects, planners, interior and product designers, and facility managers to plan, design, and manage safe and effective environments. This knowledge is also applied to human-computer interaction usability issues. The effect of human capabilities or characteristics such as family structure, lifestyle, social class, and stage-in-life cycle on environmental needs and requirements is also a focus of the program. Career opportunities are available in software firms, high-technology companies, design firms, and in urban planning and other public agencies, as well as in the facility management and product design division of private companies. Human factors and ergonomics is good preparation for graduate study leading to a Ph.D. degree in the social sciences and a career in academic or other research-oriented settings in either the public or private sector. It can also serve as the basis for graduate study in an environmental planning or design discipline such as architecture, facility planning and management, interior design, landscape architecture, or city and regional planning. Electives in the social sciences and in research methods and statistics are encouraged.

Academic Advising:

During their first semester, all DEA majors are matched with a faculty advisor by the director of undergraduate studies.

Consultation with faculty advisors about future goals, departmental requirements, sequences of courses, and electives inside or outside the college helps students develop their programs. Students majoring in interior design, especially, must begin early to plan and collect materials for a portfolio of their work, which is necessary for many positions and for application to graduate schools. Faculty advisors can make recommendations on what to include. Students are free to change advisors. Although advisors should be consulted about students’ schedules during course enrollment each semester, it is the student’s responsibility to keep track of his or her courses and to make sure that they meet graduation requirements for their major and college.

Ownership and Exhibition of Student Work:

All design work done in studios as part of an academic program is the property of the department until it has been released by the instructor. The department is not responsible for loss or theft of student work.

DEA 4+1 Master’s Degree Program:

Outstanding students who complete their four-year undergraduate degree in DEA may apply for a master of arts/M.A. (interior design) or a master of science/M.S. (human environment relations) degree that typically requires one additional year of graduate study.

Through careful planning by the beginning of their junior year, many of the courses required in the M.A. or M.S. programs can be taken during the undergraduate years, creating an opportunity to focus the fifth year of study on completing graduate courses and thesis requirements. Typically, students will take four to five courses in their fall semester as a graduate student, and two to three courses plus their thesis research in the spring semester. Students should expect to complete their thesis by the end of the summer term of their fifth year.

Admission to the 4+1 Master’s program is not automatic. Students must meet with their advisors early in their undergraduate programs to plan carefully for this possibility. In the fall of the senior year, interested students must submit an online application to the Graduate School. The GRE exam and a portfolio are not required for 4+1 applicants. In addition to the online application, 4+1 applicants must submit a 4+1 study proposal to the department. Students who have compiled a strong undergraduate record in the department are usually good candidates for admission into the graduate program in Design and Environmental Analysis.