With Grant, Jefferson to Develop Curriculum for Designers Focusing on Light and Health

Industrial design alumnus Michael Grosso '18 visits Jefferson's light research lab.

Industrial design alumnus Michael Grosso ’18 visits Jefferson’s light research lab.

The lighting design and light research programs at Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) will participate in Light4Health, an international research project to develop and test curriculum for graduate-level lighting designers focusing on light and health.

Funded by an Erasmus Grant, Jefferson will collaborate with University of Wolverhampton in the United Kingdom, Aalborg University in Denmark, Hochschule Wismar in Germany, KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden and ITMO University in Russia. This marks the first grant Jefferson has received from the European Union under the newly established Jefferson Horizon Research LLC.

Light4Health: Health Research-Based Innovative Open Educational Resources and Tools for Lighting Design Students and Professionals, supported by a grant of approximately $500,000, will launch on Oct. 4, 2018. Faculty and staff representatives from Jefferson include principal investigator Lyn Godley, associate professor of industrial design; George Brainard, PhD, professor of neurology and director of the Light Research Program; John Hanifin, PhD, research assistant professor of neurology; and Ben Warfield, operations support specialist in the Light Research Program.

“This is a timely project,” Dr. Brainard said. “The broader lighting community is adapting to two recent and major innovations in lighting: the technological advances of solid-state lighting (SSL), which can be controlled far more effectively than traditional fluorescent and incandescent lights, and the understanding that electrical lighting can influence human physiology and behavior.”

SSL refers to a type of lighting that uses semiconductor light-emitting diodes (LEDs), organic LEDs or polymer LEDs as sources of illumination.

The prospect of bringing together experts from lighting design and science to develop teaching tools to address the challenges, opportunities and health implications of SSL excites Godley, and she said working with global institutions that specialize lighting design offers the opportunity for broad implementation.

Over three years, project partners will develop a transdisciplinary course on the intersection of lighting design and health research by selecting the most relevant methods, tools and findings in neurology, photobiology, neuroendocrinology, neurobehavioral studies, psychophysiology of perception, and behavioral, cognitive and environmental psychology and introducing them into lighting design curricula.

The course will be extended with open educational materials and an online virtual lab platform aimed at accessibility and fostering implementation across Europe. Expansion to the United States will be discussed at the launch in October. In addition, the project will facilitate learning opportunities for students, faculty and staff of participating universities through a series of summer workshops to develop and test curriculum.

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