A while back I keynoted at the ACUI Region 6 conference in Florida. For those unfamiliar, ACUI stands for Association of College Unions International. ACUI people are in charge of the physical student union space on campus. This can mean anything from hosting student events, to furniture, to vacuum cleaners. At larger schools they often run entirely independent event calendars from the traditional student activities departments.
Initially my talk was supposed to be around the topic of digital student engagement. In the end, this is what I keynoted on, but in the back of my mind I wanted to totally mix it up with a brand new speech that I’ve been thinking more and more about titled, “Chairs, Stairs, and Garbage Cans: Your Partners in Student Engagement.”
It’s in its infancy right now, but the basic idea being that the physical environment in which students walk through every day has as much to do with student engagement as do the events and activities hosted in the physical environment. It’s not just about the layout and design of the physical space (round tables vs square tables), but also in the creative repurposing of the space.
Like I said, this idea is currently just a seedling germinating in my brain, but I’d love to ping-pong brainstorm with others who have thought about this more. Till then, here are some examples for inspiration…