As campuses embrace the possibilities offered by new technology and multimodal composition, technology-rich centers, studios, and learning environments are being planned, constructed, and re-invented to address the needs of students and instructors in the digital age.
While a number of articles examine the role of space design in learning and composition (Bemer, Moeller, & Ball, 2009; Miller-Cochran & Gierdowski, 2013; Reynolds, 1998), recent scholarship has expanded to include examinations of space design, multimodal composition, and the use of technology in composition classrooms, writing center and communication centers (Carpenter & Apostel, 2012; Lee, Alfano, & Carpenter, 2013; McKinney, 2005) and multimodal composition in studio spaces (Carpenter, 2014). However, much research remains to be done that will examine the role of sustainability in learning, composition, and communication space design, especially spaces that incorporate technology.
Selfe (2004) framed some of the core concepts behind creating sustainable, technologically sophisticated environments. Moreover, DeVoss, McKee, and Selfe (2009) examined technological ecologies and sustainability, and Strasma (2009) used the LEED evaluation tool—including terminology—to explain how we might better understand writing program elements.
This edited collection offers chapters that feature text, videos, audio files, and images that tell the stories of how learning spaces embrace sustainability as they move from vision to reality (e.g., sustainable construction, finances, pedagogies, staffing, technology lifecycles, etc.).
That is, we focus on how new centers and older centers both anticipate and reinvent themselves to meet the challenges of new technology and the pedagogical needs of learners and instructors, as well as how people are addressing and adapting to the environmental challenges of e-waste that these centers inevitably create.
But what happens when the physical, technology-rich learning space itself seems to disappear? We recognize that mobility and online systems have had a profound influence on digital learning and communication, yet learners, teachers, and institutions still need spaces to meet, teach, interact, and support each other.
Therefore, chapters also describe how mobile and online systems influence the physical learning, working, and teaching spaces we all inhabit.
The sections contained in this collection trace three related trajectories of sustainable learning spaces, comprised of multiple institutions, voices, and contexts. The collection is organized by phases of the design process: creating, reinventing, and sustaining. Together, these chapters illuminate the intersections of space design, infrastructure, and technology, with a focus on how spaces that span institutions and contexts are envisioned and composed. We hope that readers will navigate this webtext in ways that resonate with their own experience as they compose, teach, work, and learn in their own academic spaces made up of a variety of shapes, sizes, and configurations. But we also hope that readers will consider how this narrative of sustainability shapes their academic, professional, and personal spatial worlds. We would like readers to consider their own definitions—both theoretically and practically—of sustainability and how these concepts shape their composing, teaching, and learning processes.
Chapters in Section One feature new, technologically sophisticated, and sustainable learning spaces with a focus on how they were envisioned and eventually came to fruition. Through discussions of funding, architectural design, and campus partnerships, these chapters illustrate the challenges and rewards of opening new academic spaces. Moreover, the chapters in Section One help to frame key issues when considering sustainability in the design of learning spaces. In particular, these chapters feature emerging writing centers, digital literacy centers, digital studios, and learning commons that weave a narrative of sustainability, including the challenges faced by planning teams.
Chapters in Section Two feature stories of reinvention in high-tech and flexible spaces that facilitate the pedagogical needs of instructors and changes in technology. Threads in these chapters include sustaining and maintaining campus and community partnerships to bring new life to once high-tech spaces built in the past or reimagining learning and teaching spaces altogether. Moreover, these chapters explore the major changes and improvements made to spaces that enhance teaching, learning, composition, and communication, and the ways that students and instructors engage technologies.
Chapters in Section Three feature perspectives that focus on sustaining spaces. Discussions in this section include best practices for engaging multiple stakeholders in sustainable space-design practices, purchasing technology, training and supporting usage of technology within spaces, considerations for disposing of and recycling outdated and broken technology, and, ultimately, examining the ways spaces are reducing their carbon footprints through reduced energy consumption, paper recycling, and water conservation.