[Last weekend I had a rewarding and thoroughly enjoyable time attending THATCamp Piedmont 2012 at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. (Check out previous ProfHacker coverage of THATCamps here.)
Session topics at THATCamp Piedmont included "Deforming the Humanities" (proposed by ProfHacker Erin E. Templeton), "Teaching as Scholarship" (Roger Whitson), and "The UnTeacher: Hacking the Syllabus and the Everyday" (Leeann Hunter).
What I'd like to draw your attention to for this week's "Open Thread Wednesday," however, are the ideas contained in the proposal for a session on "Hacking Campus Space," by ProfHacker Mark Sample. I've reproduced his session proposal below (with a few formatting changes) and hope to spark a conversation in the comments. At my campus, I'm on a committee tasked with re-imagining our classrooms, considering everything from furniture to lighting to floor coverings to information and communication technologies. So I'm interested in hearing about the ideas and experiences others have had when--and if--they've been given the opportunity to change the spaces in which teaching and learning take place. Sometimes those spaces are classrooms, but sometimes those spaces are to be found in the library, the student union, or in unexpected locations found in other campus buildings.
What follows, then, is the text of Mark's proposal.
There are many aspects of academic life that we have little control over. One of the most significant of these aspects is also one of the most invisible, because it comes with a kind of take-it-for-grantedness: the actual physical space of the campus. The classrooms, the libraries, the study spaces and public places—we spend so much of our time in these locations, but they aren’t ours. They are institutional entities, designed by committees, subject to cost analysis, and rarely built to foster individualized teaching, learning, and research styles and goals.
I propose a THATCamp session in which we think about ways to hack campus space. And I mean hack in the most generous sense of the term.
- How can we use these spaces in ways they weren’t designed for?
- How can we turn their flaws—bolted down desks, windowless rooms, tiered seating, and so on—into advantages (or at least neutralize them)?
- How can we turn institutional places into dwelling spaces that we inhabit and habituate?
I was initially thinking mostly of classrooms—because I have taught in dreadfully designed rooms—but I’d extend this idea to include all campus spaces. And I’d like our hacks to go beyond the simply practical (though we need those too) to include what amounts to philosophical and ideological hacks.
- What would a temporary autonomous zone look like on campus?
- …in the student union?
- …in your classroom?
- How can we change attitudes about what can or can’t be done in certain spaces?
- What’s the most surprising thing we can do with a campus space, and conversely, what’s the most predictable thing we can do in a new way?
ProfHacker readers, please share your thoughts in the comments!