Delivering my first conference keynote – (Re)connection: The importance of space/place & interaction in higher education

Space and place are the major focuses of my research. Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of delivering the keynote session for the Winter Symposium at the University of Hull. The conference was titled Building and Supporting Positive Learning Relationships, with a broad focus on how we build connections with students both within and beyond programmes. This was a perfect opportunity for me to discuss space and place. I had just under an hour, so split my time between presentation and discussion: covering the relationships students have with spaces and places. This took the discussion beyond the purely social relationships between students, and between students and staff.

Spaces are containers – the sites of activity and interaction. When we develop a relationship with a space, it becomes a place for us. Not just a university – but my university. Not just a course – but my course. I argue much more focus is needed on the development of universities as places. How do we support students to make the spaces of higher education, places that they belong? That they feel included? I think this is a vital component of the inclusion jigsaw – and something that is often forgotten when focusing on the relationships between people. Obviously, the connection between people is important – but it is only part of the story of success.

Leave you thoughts in the comments below – and check out the slides below or via SlideShare.

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