Making Campus sustain-able
Students research and map different infrastructures on their university campus, to think about how sustain-able they are and how to propose improvements to university senior management. This activity combines classroom and outdoor learning.
This is an example of how I ran this activity. I invite you to use this as a guide and to experiment with your own class.
1. Research an infrastructure (pre-activity)
In the week before the activity, students choose one of four infrastructures - water, transport, food, energy – and researched how these are manifest on Sussex campus. They had also familiarized themselves with the university’s sustainability policy
2. Explain workshop objective
I explained that students would learn about campus infrastructures in experiential and material ways. They were to walk across campus in small groups and map all instances of their chosen infrastructure they encountered. Because this activity involved a self-guided, outdoor learning element, it was important to give students clear guidelines, in terms of times and activities, to keep them on track.
3. Campus walking discussion
Groups of 3 - 4 students decided on their route in the classroom and then undertook a 25 minute walk, using campus maps to mark any physical manifestations of their infrastructure. They also answered questions on a worksheet I had given them.
Back in the classroom, students translated the findings from their walking discussion into presentations, focusing on what they had encountered and on forward-looking sustain-ability recommendations that the rest of the class, who role-played a hypothetical senior leadership team.
Each creative activity needs to followed by a collective discussion session in order to draw out students’ learning and connect it to the larger topics of the class. I often do that in the following class, after sending students a short survey with some reflection questions.
Section from the Creative Universities Book
These are readings on which students can draw for this activity.
McFarlane, C., & Rutherford, J. (2008). Political infrastructures: Governing and experiencing the fabric of the city. International journal of urban and regional research, 32(2), 363-374.
Guma, P. K. (2020). Incompleteness of urban infrastructures in transition: Scenarios from the mobile age in Nairobi. Social Studies of Science, 50/5: 728-750.
I also introduce students to mapping as a political activity through a video of the MapKibera project, which uses community mapping to make visible the dearth of infrastructures in the informal settlement of Kibera in Nairobi.
Here are readings related to walking pedagogies and twalks
Middleton, A. and Spiers, A., 2019. 20. Learning to Twalk: An Analysis of a New Learning Environment. Social Media in Higher Education: Case Studies, Reflections and Analysis.
Springgay, S., & Truman, S. E. (2017). Walking methodologies in a more-than-human world: WalkingLab. Routledge.
Vasant, S. (2019). 21. Academics’ Understanding of Learning Spaces: Attitudes, Practices and Outcomes Explored through the Use of. Social Media in Higher Education: Case Studies, Reflections and Analysis.