In dealing with environmental issues we are repeatedly confronted by the paradox that the biggest obstacle to a more humane world for people is -- people. Again and again designers, planners, citizen groups, policy makers, and managers set out to solve "real" problems and end up mired in "people" problems. This book attempts to apply the skills and insights of the behavioral sciences to this dilemma. The approach is untraditional, not only in its theoretical framework, but also in its focus. The emphasis is not on the environment itself, but on how people know and experience it, for we believe that the first priority is not specific answers to specific problems, but a greater understanding of the creature we are dealing with, a larger view of what people are like.

Stephen Kaplan is emeritus professor of psychology and of computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan. With Rachel Kaplan he co-authored Cognition and Environment: Functioning in an Uncertain World and The Experience of Nature: A Psychological Perspective.
Rachel Kaplan was the Samuel T. Dana Professor of Environment and Behavior at the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan.  She is the co-author of With People in Mind: Design and Management of Everyday Nature (with Stephen Kaplan and Robert L. Ryan) and co-editor of Fostering Reasonableness: Supportive Environments for Bringing Out Our Best (with Avik Basu).