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Phil Wood, Paul Warwick and Derek Cox

Consideration of the physical environment in which learning takes place has become a growing area of academic interest over the past decade. This study focuses on the experiences and perceptions of academic staff and students who used three refurbished, and innovative, learning spaces at the University of Leicester. The results suggest that the physical environment can have an impact on the emotional and motivational experiences of students and staff. However, there is some suggestion that learning space development should not be at the expense of approaches to pedagogy which do not foreground the use of technologies.

The analysis of the users' experiences leads to the proposition of a theoretical model for the apt design of future learning spaces in Higher Education. The DEEP learning space framework outlines the need for careful consideration being given to dynamic, engaging, ecological and participatory (DEEP) dimensions within the twenty-first century learning space.

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Bodies in Motion

Pilgrims, Seers, and Religious Experience at Marian Apparition Sites

Sandra L. Zimdars-Swartz

Historically, walking has been an essential element of Christian pilgrimage. For medieval journeys of faith, whether from London to Canterbury, Santiago de Compostela, Rome, or Jerusalem, the rigors of walking the distance from home to site could demonstrate suffering, sacrifice, and devotion. Although people may arrive at a religious destination by plane, bus, or car, walking at the site remains essential to the pilgrim's experience of the sacred. Focusing on the reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes, Necedah, Garabandal, Medjugorje, and Melleray and some later developments at these sites, this article examines the ways in which the physical movements of the pilgrims at these places establish a context for their experiences of the sacred. In the chaos of the crowds assembled at an ongoing apparition, experience is as fluid as the mingling of the pilgrims with each other and with the physical environment. These sites stand in stark contrast to well-established shrines where permanent structures orchestrate both movement and meaning.

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Torsten Cress

Today, the insight that material objects are an important part of social life is widely recognized in the social and cultural sciences. But how exactly do things affect the microlevel of social interaction? And by which methodological means can their significance for it be explored? Based on a study of Catholic liturgy, an ethnographic approach is developed that allows for systematic investigations into the role material objects play in social situations. Using Erving Goffman's frame analysis as a theoretical tool, it assumes that things are constitutive of social situations while in turn helping participants make sense of these situations. Conversely, the impact of things is considered closely tied to their particular situational involvement. In order to explore the connections between materiality, meaning, and use, I suggest investigating a number of closely related aspects: the contribution of things to the specifics of the situation in question; the bodily practices in which they are involved; the physical environment in which they are embedded; the physical qualities they possess; and the social definitions tied to them.