Centre for Higher Education and Equity Research (CHEER)

Seminar 6: Spaced Out?

Date: 30 March 2010 10am-4pm
Venue: Foyle Suite, 1st Floor, British Library Centre for Conservation, 96 Euston Rd, London. NW1 2DB

This session questions whether The University is in touch with contemporary aesthetics, in light of work that establishes close linkages between quality design and occupants' self-worth. What is the contribution of building design innovation to the remaking of pedagogic and power relations in higher education?

Speaker 1: Dr. Cath Lambert
Lecturer in Sociology, University of Warwick, UK

Dr Cath Lambert is Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Warwick, and Academic Coordinator for the Reinvention Centre for Undergraduate Research, a collaborative Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning between the Universities of Warwick and Oxford Brookes. She researches and teaches in the areas of sociology of education and gender and sexualities, with particular interests in critical and feminist pedagogies. Her most recent work has involved the development of research-based learning and teaching at undergraduate level through a number of practical collaborative projects, including the design and realisation of new (and re-newed) teaching and learning spaces.

Title: Psycho Classrooms: Teaching as a Work of Art

Taking its title from an exhibition of architectural sculptures at the Haywood Gallery, London in 2008 entitled Psycho Buildings, this paper addresses our capacities and responsibilities as educators to generate pedagogic spaces rather than simply to occupy them. Attention is paid to the spatial and aesthetic dimensions of knowledge production and exchange, exploring the possibilities for re/generating different relations of power and ways of knowing than those promoted by the Universities of Excellence (Readings,1996) with/in which we work. The paper argues that such re/generation and reinvention requires educational spaces which foreground the aesthetic, the experiential and the haptic: classrooms which can be sites of antagonism and dissensus, of risk and disorientation, and of pleasure and play. Drawing on spatial theory as well as theories and practices of pedagogic art, possible resources through which to imagine and create such spaces are examined.

Listen to the presentation [MP3]

Speaker 2: Professor Mike Neary
Dean of Teaching and Learning, University of Lincoln, and Director of the University's Centre for Educational Research and Development.

Professor Mike Neary is the Dean of Teaching and Learning at the University of Lincoln and the Director of the Lincoln's Centre for Educational Research and Development.  Before taking up this post in 2007 Mike was a Reader in the Sociology department at the University of Warwick where he taught political sociology.  During his time at Warwick Mike was the Director of the Reinvention Centre for Undergraduate Research, a collaborative Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning between Sociology at Warwick and the School for the Built Environment at Oxford Brookes University.  The Reinvention Centre developed a reputation for its radical experimentation with teaching spaces to support critical and participative pedagogies. Mike has published widely in the field of political sociology, with an increasing focus on the politics and policy of higher education. He is the co-editor of the recently published The Future of Higher Education: Policy, Pedagogy and the Student Experience.  Mike has recently completed a research project, Learning Landscapes in Higher Education, funded by HEFCE, SFC and the HEFCW. Mike is a National Teaching Fellow.

Title: 'Learning Landscape and the Struggle for the Idea of the University'

This paper is based on research into the extent and nature of academic engagement into the design and development of new pedagogic spaces across HE in the UK.  The research shows that academics are increasingly involved in the development of new teaching and learning spaces as customers or clients of the project management process, but not as academics.  The result is that universities are rapidly becoming learning landscapes with no defining characteristics, i.e., 'non-places' ( Auge 1992), with features designed  to facilitate the processes of academic capitalism ( Slaughter and Leslie 1997). Using Bourdieu's concept of the 'collective intellectual', the paper will suggest ways in which the academic voice can reassert itself by asking critical reflexive questions about the role and nature of higher education. This debate is already well defined in the academic literature as the 'idea of the university'.

Listen to the presentation [MP3]

Listen to the closing discussion [MP3]