“Real Artists Ship”

Colin Johnson’s blog


Making a Makerspace (1)

Universities have lots of facilities for students that are not directly related to study. Some of these are functional or social spaces (e.g. cafés and bars), but some relate to a broader cultural and leisure activity that we expect students will be involved in. Examples include large facilities such as theatres, sports halls, dance studios and smaller facilities such as music practice rooms, photographic darkrooms and snooker tables (there is often a middle class bias towards the activities represented, but that is a topic for another time).

What processes do universities have for putting in new facilities of this kind? My impression is that the answer is none. If an activity was seen as important by someone at the time of foundation, then it has a facility; if not, it is very difficult to create a space for new activities. The exception to this is where a specific donation comes into the university earmarked for a specific facility.

An example of this that is current at my University is the campaign for a makerspace on the campus. This is the kind of thing that could not have existed fifty years ago when the University was being set up.

Should universities be more active in providing some standardised way of accepting requests for such facilities, and removing facilities that are less used?

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