The Extracurricular as an Institutional Third Space

Cristina Mateo

Take your average university day in early spring this year. Yes, it was completely different from today’s. Then, university life consisted of curricular and extracurricular activities, which took place in different venues within the campus: studios, lecture halls, the library… as well as the in-between spaces such as the canteen, benches, and the many other public places we use to relax and recharge our batteries with other people. What’s more, research shows that active learning occurs outside the classroom settings, in informal, ad hoc, spaces (Journal of Facilities Management, 2012).

For many academic institutions, particularly elite establishments like Harvard, Yale, and in Spain, IE University, among others, socialization is key. Attendance, whether as teacher or student, has traditionally provided a means to create a network of colleagues we can build mutual trust with. I believe this is a very important part of career development. That said, a sense of belonging is important within any type of academic institution.

Broadly speaking, students in higher education centers have enjoyed regular curricular academic activity: lectures, workshops, seminars, discussions groups and of course, visits to offices or sites, and in my field, architecture and design, to see what goes on behind the scenes at construction projects. At the same time, attendance at festivals and conferences, have also been part of the curriculum.

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