The Changing Campus #4: wider learning environments and interactions, Thursday 16 June 2022, 3-5pm (online SHU SPG event)

“As the twentieth century draws to a close the idea of a virtual campus – paralleling or perhaps replacing the physical one – seems increasingly plausible.”

Bill Mitchell (1996) City of Bits: Space, Place and the Infobahn, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press p.70

25 years on from Mitchell’s prophecy, the physical death of the University campus still has yet to come to fruition. Yes, the place-shocks of the covid era have certainly left the spaces of Higher Education looking pretty sparcely occupied, but teaching and learning has continued. The ‘university’ now exists in a hybrid form, part in-person, part on line. But the university campus looks unlikely to vaporise fully into a dematerialised form anytime soon. The university still has physical bulk, it squats resolutely in-place. Sitting at the heart of individual, economic and social networks, it exerts a gravitational influence both upon the lives, routines and movement of individual students and upon the towns and cities captured in it’s zone of interaction.

In the fourth event in Sheffield Hallam University’s Space & Place Group’s ‘The Changing Campus’ series of online seminars, on Thursday, 16 June 2022 (3-5pm) we will be examining the interconnection between university campuses, surrounding towns and students’ travel between them.

Our presenters will be:

Teri-Lisa Griffiths (Criminology, SHU) & Jill Dickinson (Law, University of Leeds)“I’m in a lecture hall with chairs and a big screen and someone talking […] it felt special in a way to me […] it felt like all my hard work had come to something”: Exploring what learning spaces mean to the student experience.  

During the 2020-21 academic year, campuses across the UK were in lockdown. Our research explored how students’ learning spaces had changed as a result of these restrictions. In this presentation, we will report on our key findings and explore how learning spaces can support and inhibit the social, cultural, and academic ‘becoming’ of learners. Using a sociomaterial framework, we will illustrate how students adapted and managed previously unimagined spaces of learning and what we may ascertain about the student experience as a result. We will invite discussion about the long-term considerations for policy and pedagogy which arise from our research findings.

Vicky Mellon (Tourism, SHU) “It feels like a job” : Understanding commuter students: Motivations, engagement and learning experiences (Stalmirska & Mellon 2022)

The number of students choosing to commute to university and remain at home, rather than relocating to the place of studying is growing, particularly within post 92 HE settings. Increased tuition fees and introduction of student loans is attributed to this growing trend. Subsequently, they are a valuable part of the student population. However, there is a lack of research on commuter students, including focus on their motivations, engagement and learning experiences. Here, the qualitative study addresses this gap and explores their reasons for commuting, their engagement and disengagement with extracurricular activities and their sense of belonging at university. The research highlights the challenges facing commuter students and how these differ from other cohorts, and offers some recommendations for overcoming barriers preventing engagement.

Julian Dobson (CRESR, SHU) The long shadow of the campus: ‘place’ and the civic university 

Universities cast a long shadow over places. The notion of the ‘university town’ is baked into European history: places where cultural identity and spatial form are significantly shaped by their higher education institutions. Even modern, isolated campuses ripple out beyond their boundaries, skewing property development, housing markets and neighbourhood dynamics. As universities become more conscious of their civic mission, they increasingly position themselves as agents of economic and social change within their wider communities. But the consequences of such interventions are not always fully considered. This talk will explore the porous interface between places and institutions, and present an emerging framework for understanding and assessing universities’ impacts on the places that host them.

The event is free to attend, and registration is via Eventbrite, here:

Recordings of our previous ‘The Changing Campus’ sessions are viewable here:

Image credit: City Campus Redevelopment, Sheffield Hallam University, 2022


About lukebennett13
Associate Professor & Course Leader, BSc Hons Real Estate, Sheffield Hallam University, UK. I TEACH: built environment law to construction, surveying, real estate and environmental management students. I RESEARCH: metal theft; urban exploration & recreational trespass; occupiers' perceptions of liability for their premises. I THINK: about the links between ideas, materialities and practices in the built environment. I WAS: an environmental lawyer working in commercial practice for 17 years before I joined academia in 2007. I EXPLAIN: the aims of my blogsite site here: LINKS: Twitter: @lukebennett13; Archive: EPITAPH: “He lived at a little distance from his body, regarding his own acts with doubtful side-glances.” James Joyce, Dubliners

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