UCSB Outdoor Study Space

Finding a decent spot in the library is a struggle known to all Gauchos. Any lack of seating in Davidson is only part of the issue, though–why isn’t there adequate seating outside? ELI students Isabella Puchkova (Environmental Studies BS, ‘24) and Erica Kinsel (Environmental Studies BA, ‘25) sought to remedy the lack of outdoor study spaces on campus by installing a green study space for all UCSB students to enjoy. 

“Our project stemmed from our learning of how outdoor spaces strengthen the human body and mind - simply studying outdoors improves memory, creativity, and mental health which is especially crucial at an academic university,” says Puchkova. “The Green Study Space is an outdoor area which inspires students because of the architecture and plant life surrounding them. In our case, we chose a centrally located site and made sure that our site’s tables were powered by renewable energy, and filled with plants native to the Goleta coastline.”

The Green Study space can be found between buildings 434 and 477, in the red circle depicted on the map. 

Map of UCSB depicting the outdoor study space

The Green Study Space, located between buildings 434 and 477, features solar-powered tables and seating with outlets as well as planter boxes with native flora. Kinsel and Puchkova worked closely with campus organizations and Santa Barbara leaders to successfully learn about and implement sustainable design, campus planning, and restoration ecology. The Veterans Resource Center, for example, helped Kinsel and Puchkova create a cohesive and sustainable study space through the generous purchase of solar powered tables. They also collaborated with a former ELI project, Bee Campus, as well as the Cheadle Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration (CCBER) to install native plants. These native planter boxes closely follow the ecological restoration practices in use by CCBER, featuring water-wise plantings and genetically distinct species unique to the Goleta coast. Kinsel and Puchkova also give thanks to the Environmental Leadership Incubator program as a whole, where they enjoyed “the opportunity to meet so many like-minded, passionate peers… Our ELI peers helped us with creating our project and introduced us to new ideas we would not have considered otherwise.” Kinsel and Puchkova also give thanks to their ELI mentors, Erin Dibos and Kimi Seigel, who guided the students through all aspects of the project. 

ELI Students installing native plants

Isabella (left) and Erica (right) installing native plants

The Green Study Space is open and ready for use. The living nature of the project allows for continued collaboration, stewardship, and environmental education. To encourage community action and hands-on education, Puchkova and Kinsel are soliciting volunteers for the maintenance of the planter boxes. They can be reached at ipuchkova@ucsb.edu and eck@ucsb.edu or, alternatively, volunteers can get involved through UCSB Bee Campus.