Sometimes ideas that start small grow in exciting and unexpected ways. This has certainly been the case with reDirect. When University of Michigan professors Stephen and Rachel Kaplan and began investigating how environments impact human functioning, they could not have anticipated that the various bits and pieces of their research would come together into the simple, powerful, and adaptable framework that lies at the heart of reDirect – the Reasonable Person Model (RPM). With the perceptive thoughts and entrepreneurial spirit of many people, RPM continues to evolve, pointing us toward more reasonable directions for tackling a huge array of challenges.
Stephen Kaplan played the key role in RPM’s formulation and in many of its iterations. His thoughts and writings dating to the early 1970’s (e.g., an essay subtitled “Towards a humane environment”) anticipated themes reflected in the Reasonable Person Model (RPM). RPM incorporates many frameworks that Steve developed during his years as a professor of psychology and of computer and communication science at the University of Michigan.
Steve’s insights and commitment to these principles have made his work on restorative environments, landscape preference, and environmental cognition hugely influential among both researchers and practitioners. Steve’s five decades of teaching also influenced and inspired generations of students.
Poignantly, his work also helps us understand some of the devastating ramifications of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a disease that undermines clarity and consequently assaults reasonableness. Sadly, Steve has joined an overwhelmingly large number of people worldwide who are living with this irreversible, progressively debilitating brain disorder that robs their memory and thinking skills, and their ability to make sense of the world around them.
reDirect represents an effort to broaden and extend Steve’s contributions by shining a light on the conditions that bring out the best in people and by fostering environments that are supportive of our common humanity. We are grateful to have the opportunity to build on Steve’s legacy and share RPM more widely.