An environment is a complex of external factors. It acts on a system and determines its course and form of existence. An environment may be thought of as a superset, of which the given system is a subset. An environment may have one or more parameters, physical or otherwise. The environment of a given system must interact with that system in order for it to sustain and develop.
Generally, the environment or milieu of some object or action consists of the substances, circumstances, objects, or conditions by which it is surrounded or in which it occurs. (Although the two terms are usually synonyms, some sciences prefer the less common milieu to avoid confusion with the more wider-known meanings of environment in ecology, politics, and sociology). Either word may be used with specialized meaning in various contexts.
- In psychology, environmentalism is the theory that environment (in the general and social sense) plays a greater role than heredity in determining an individual's development in the nature nurture debate. More significantly, the environment is an important factor in many psychological theories. However the use of the term can have several focuses:
- Biophysical environment- as in habitat, Hazardous materials, toxins
- Built environment - as in archetecture, town planning, Urban planning
- Cultural environment
- Facility environments - as in hospitals, schools etc
- Family environment - provided by families, family structure etc.
- Learning environment
- Natural environment
- Single sex environments
- Social environment
- Therapeutic environment
- In biology, environment may be defined as the complex of climatic, biotic, social and edaphic factors that acts upon an organism and determines its form and survival. It, therefore, includes everything that may directly affect the metabolism or behavior of a living organism or species, including light, air, water, soil, and other living beings. See natural environment and natural selection.
- In architecture, ergonomy, and work safety, it is the ensemble of elements of a room or building that affect the well-being and efficiency of its occupants—including dimensions and arrangement of living spaces and furniture, light, ventilation, temperature, noise, etc. It may also refer to the collection of built structures. See built environment.
- See geography for a subject that is a study of the environment. (Terms like SOSE (Studies of Society & the Environment) not only refer to environmental studies, but also social sciences.)
- Natural environment is used, for example in environmental science and environmentalism, to refer to ecological systems relatively unaffected by human activity.
- Animal environments
- Ecological psychology
- Environmental adaptation
- Environmental attitudes
- Environmental education
- Environmental planning
- Environmental psychology
- Open system (systems theory)
- Physical comfort
- Research setting