The idea of ‘going to university’ is integrally tied to the concept of the university campus as a physical place. The campus is both the location in which learning occurs and a place that gives meaning to the learning experience. It is a setting that provides the opportunity for social and intellectual engagement with a scholarly community as well as a place with the capacity to engender knowledge, self-discovery and personal transformation. Higher education institutions have produced some of the world’s most famous physical settings, many of which have served as the source of inspiration for art, poetry, literature and film. Narratives about university life impart a strong sense of the places in which they are set, creating memorable depictions of student experiences on campus. Paul Temple suggests that the powerful images of university campuses evoked by certain novels stem from an understanding that ‘in universities, the interactions between people and they material world are more than usually significant’ (xxvi). Universities have a unique sense of place that is made meaningful by the actions and interactions that occur within them; they are illustrative of Henri Lefebvre’s notion that space is a complex social construction that is not merely built but produced, and made productive through social practices (1991).
Authors: Sarah French and Gregor Kennedy