Fiat Lux: Light and Pedagogy for the 21st Century

James C. Lech, Matthew T.J. Halma, Adejoke O. Obajuluwa, Malcolm Baker, Michael R. Hamblin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: The relationship between the quality of the learning environment and student outcomes is receiving more serious attention from educational psychologists, neurologists, ophthalmologists, orthopedists, surgeons, oncologists, architects, ergonomists, nutritionists, and Michelin star chefs. There is a role for ergonomic office and school design to positively impact worker and student productivity, and one design attribute drawing attention is the indoor lit environment. In this review, we expand upon the role that light plays in education, as it has enabled millions of pupils to read at late hours, which were previously too dark. However, still unappreciated is the biological effects of artificial light on circadian rhythm and its subsequent impacts on health and learning outcomes. Summary: This review describes the current state of light in the educational environment, its impact, and the effect of certain inexpensive and easy-to-implement adaptations to better support student growth, learning and development. We find that the current lighting environment for pupils is sub-optima based on biological mechanism and may be improved through cost effective interventions. These interventions can achieve greater biological harmonization and improve learner outcomes. Key Message: The impact of the lighting environment in educational institutions on pupil biology has received minimal attention thus far. The current lighting environment in schools is not conducive to student health and educational performance. Cost-effective approaches can have an outsized impact on student health and educational attainment. We strongly recommend educational institutions take the lit environment into account when designing educational programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-142
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Neurosciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • Pedagogy
  • biophilic design
  • built environment
  • educational design
  • light therapy
  • photobiomodulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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