Of Special Note

Design Approaches that Meet the COVID-19 Challenge


  • Lift barriers to the exterior.
  • Program spaces to foster communal equity.
  • Accommodate different pedagogies, disciplines.
  • Reflect research in the cognitive sciences.
  • Create the permeable.
  • Imagine learners as nomads.
  • Nurture community, a sense of belonging, in both physical and remote locations.
  • Consider networks and ecosystems that enable academic integration.
  • Consider long-term student wellness.
  • Meet diverse student needs; promote equity and inclusion.

– from Snapshots of Spaces that Anticipate the Future


From the Field: LSC Collaborating Partners

…We are in a time when we are redesigning for systemic change … and we will come out at the end with new kinds of learning environments. It is our responsibility to make them inclusive, equitable.

These thoughts were expressed in one of the Friday Faculty Webinars hosted by the Association of American Colleges and Universities. In the May 2020 Webinar, national leaders explored how the ongoing pandemic disruption of higher education presents both challenges and opportunities for the community.

Their concerns are similar to those being addressed by academics and architects designing and redesigning spaces that meet today’s challenges and embrace future opportunities. Their questions—can virtual environments be spontaneous? and what do people need? are helpful in exploring the LSC question—how can the historic sense of an agora be captured in virtual learning spaces?

AAC&U is an LSC Collaborating Partner

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If we claim that learning can happen anywhere and anytime, what does that mean now? How might we take advantage of existing institutional assets as we reimagine where learning happens now? What does it mean to wrestle as a community to imagine and realize spaces that matter? How might we use this opportunity to focus as a community on issues of equity?

These are some of the questions being addressed in LSC Zoom Roundtables, a regular series of discussions begun in May 2020 in which architects and academics explore how the pandemic has changed how space matters, being reimagined, repurposed.

During the AAC&U Annual Conference January 20 – 23, 2021, the LSC presented a virtual session: The Impact of COVID-19 on Shaping Spaces for Learning. Papers from the 2020 LSC Zoom roundtables served as a resource.

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Planning for Assessing

Research findings are critical in informing the process of planning, as stakeholder teams move through the process of addressing key questions that ultimately shape the learning environment for which they have responsibility—an environment that will make a difference to the learners for whom they are responsible.

In the early days of the LSC (2010), a group convened to shape the LSC’s agenda. We determined it would be to focus on planning for assessing, and that the initial planning question should be about what the resulting spaces would enable the learner to become.

That question about becoming was followed by two others about how learning was experienced and how learning spaces enabled that becoming. How will we know? was the final question in that quartet of planning questions.

Addressing that final question requires attention to evidence spaces mattered—from findings from research and practice—that spaces matter. A major resource for that research is the Journal of Learning Spaces (JLS).

The LSC and the JLS have joined together in a collaboration to enable ease of access for those seeking for evidence, for answers to the question: how do we know?


The architect is a sort of theatrical producer, the man who plans the settings for our lives. …the architect’s work is intended to live on into a distant future. He sets the stage for a long, slow-moving performance which must be adaptable enough to accommodate unforeseen improvisations. His building should preferably be ahead of its time when planned so that it will be in keeping with the times as long as it stands. …The architect, too, works with living things—with human beings…. If they cannot thrive in his house its apparent beauty will be of no avail…. Indeed, one of the proofs of good architecture is that it is being utilized as the architect had planned.

— Experiencing Architecture. Steen Eiler Rasmussen. 1964.







Findings from Research & Practice – What Works in Planning for Assessing Learning Spaces

We announce the collaboration between the Learning Spaces Collaboratory (LSC) and the Journal of Learning Spaces (JLS). A significant feature of this collaboration will be a Library of Evidence. This Library begins with incorporating resources now available through our individual sites, with the addition of recent and emerging findings from research and practice focusing on why spaces matter and how we know.

The resources included in the Library reflect the work of a diversity of stakeholders. This includes individual researchers and teams of researchers from the cognitive sciences, pedagogical, disciplinary and professional communities. Findings from the work of academics and architects at individual colleges and universities will also be incorporated into the Library. The Library of Evidence is designed to inform the work of those responsible for ensuring there is a measurable return in the institutional investment made to shape learning environments in which students—today and tomorrow—thrive.



LSC/JLS Library of Evidence>>

From the Field Archive