Universities Project: Understand the Multiple Layers of the University. the University As Archipelago (Glissant).

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 15:30
Oral Presentation
Sarah WILSON, School of Social Sciences, University of Stirling, United Kingdom
Melanie LOVATT, University of Stirling, United Kingdom
Corporate projections of marketised universities present future-focused, glossy, uniform and safe spaces to the outside world. Such totalising visions exclude the lived (and sometimes difficult) experience of diverse students and staff. Starting from a perception of the university as constructed through multiple and evolving layers, relations and dialogues, many of which remain under-voiced or recognised, the aim of the collaborative project discussed is to better understand and to represent the different student (and eventually staff) experiences that contribute to/ produce the ‘university’. We asked undergraduate and post-graduate students (self-selected but purposively sampled to reflect different genders, sexualities, ethnicities, nationalities, disabilities, social circumstances, family experience of university etc) at a medium-sized campus university about their experience, however ambivalent, of coming to feel a sense of belonging to, or sense of recognition within the institution (or not). Participants were also asked about their conceptions of the ‘university’ as they see it and how they consider it should be. A variety of text-based, visual and audial methods including individual and collective mapping to produce meta-maps of different relationships to university space, supplemented by photographs, written narratives, sound recordings and audio-diaries and walking interviews were employed. Multi-modal presentation of the resulting textual, audial and visual data is seen as a key way to display dynamic, multiple and potentially conflicting perspectives of the same space- without the pressure to provide or to conform to a dominant synthesis that might sweep away under-represented views and experiences. The aim is also to provide a sustainable means for the ‘data’/ accounts given to serve as a ‘starting point’ for further collective discussion and re-imagination of the university (into the future), but also reflection on whether the dialogue so provoked values such diversity and relationality/ complexity or not.