After the treadmill of the initial meetings, the administration decided to bring in a consulting team with the experience in designing new learning spaces, the Bruce Mau Design team. Their website (The Third Teacher, coolest part of the site here) lets us know that they’ve thought a lot about these issues, and the approach that they took made clear the connections they try to draw with making buildings local.
The process that this group took us was like no corporate process I’d ever gone through before. At times it felt pretty touchy-feeling and New Agey, with very little discussion of bricks-and-mortar at all. They met with us four times, and each meeting was designed to help them get a feel for who we are as a university that went beyond our mission statement. As such, they invited a wide range of folks from our place, and a few from outside – students as well as faculty, professional staff as well as administrators, with each group having input into the process.
They then took us through several activities – create a TED presentation, design an ad, create the next Walsh program that is not academic, and so on. All of these activities were active learning -based, using a tiered approach with group activities that built on one another. We were led by a specific facilitator, with the designers and recorders of the process all hanging around the room, absorbing the zeitgeist I guess.