Monthly Archives: June 2014

Why does the learning environment matter?

 

 

Welcome to the U of L in 20… oh, 1967!

It is a bit of a paradox: As a university, one of our biggest goals is to educate students; yet, we pay little to no attention to the spaces in which this education happens. A year ago in July, LEE went to a conference entitled: “Design Thinking Shaping Educational Environments” hosted by the American Institute of Architects’ Committee on Architecture for Education. This conference to me embodied the general attitude regarding the design of new buildings in postsecondary institutions. That attitude seems primarily concerned with design, followed by functionality, but never involves empirical evidence gathered from the occupants of said buildings, or any buildings. We then get shiny new buildings, in fact, mostly made out of glass symbolizing transparency as the overarching concept in higher education (and specifically science). But are these buildings, and more importantly, the classrooms in which teaching and learning formally happens, useful to the space users? We frankly don’t know.

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