“Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces” by Kathleen G Scholl and Gowri Betrabet Gulwadi does a great job to summarize the importance of campus landscapes for educational advancement in students. At the beginning of the article the authors contextualize the reader by giving recent statistics about the growing number of student enrollment. Also, they emphasize how student involvement has changed over the years. According to Scholl and Gulwadi, ” Increased technology use within today’s multitasking society is likely to hijack a student’s attentional resource placing her/him at risk of underachieving academic learning goals and undermining success at a university.” In other words, society has shifted the way students develop in universities and deeply affected their success.
Following the critique to the way university success has shifted Scholl and Gulwadi proceed to talk about the history of campus landscapes. Scholl and Gulwadi states, “Physical landscape features had a direct impact on shaping human behavior.” In making this comment, Scholl and Gulwadi urge us to believe the way campuses are designed may deeply affect the learning process of students. Many statistics shown afterwards prove this assertion is true.
In conclusion, the way campuses are designed deeply affect university students. According to Scholl and Gulwadi, “Traditional campus indoor spaces, by necessity and function, provide ample opportunities for structured learning experiences that draw upon students’ direct attention.” Scholl and Gulwadi make a claim that university administrators must be careful with the way campuses are set up due to the implications this may have with students abilities to succeed.
(American University Campus. Photo taken from AU webpage)
Reading the ninth chapter of City of Rhetoric, was a good way to tie up everything I learned throughout the book. David Fleming finalizes the book restating many of the claims he developed throughout it. He begins the final chapter calling for the readers to have “humility toward the built world”. In other words, Fleming makes a call for his readers to view environments as places crucial for human development. Nowadays, the majority of people see environments as minor and not determinant for human flourishing.
Following the call for a change of perspective for built environments, Fleming proceeds to one of the greatest parts of this book in my opinion. He narrates an ancient Greek myth about the Gods giving cities humans as a compensation for their lack of abilities. Fleming himself writes, “In time, the city became humans chief competitive advantage over nature, chance and other animals, as well as the home of civilization itself.” (196) Basically, Fleming considers cities as the most important advancement humanity has made and that all of the others are due to it.
Fleming advocates for more public support for cities in the United States, the same way the government does to suburbs, more powerful regions and “civic” education for students. Fleming quotes utilitarian philosopher John Stuart Mill views on political education, “raised the intellectual standard of the average citizen beyond anything known since.” In other words, Fleming continues to advocate for the importance of public education and the way “cities teach us.”
(Cover of Utilitarianism by John Stuart Mill)
After reading the eight chapter of City of Rhetoric, finally I discovered why the book has the word Rhetoric in its title. David Fleming is not a sociologist or an urban developer he has an academic background teaching rhetoric. That’s why he wrote this book, even though certain elements of the categories mentioned before are present in the text. In the first paragraph of the chapter Fleming acknowledges how the book so far could be read as “a local history lesson or a seminar in urban sociology than an analysis of situated discourse practices” (179). Basically, Fleming understands how a good portion of his readers could be reading this text and mentions how in the coming chapters he will concentrate
in the rhetoric part of his book.
Fleming proceeds to review some of the examples he has mentioned in the book and how they could appear to be completely different they have the same problems. For example, ghettos and suburbs both are marked by being “decentralized, fragmented and polarized”. They are the opposite of what Fleming calls “commonplaces”, places that are centralized, integrated and equitable (180). That type of place is the ideal to properly build public discourse. The problem with the other type is that some factors such as, isolation, fear and silence impede the inhabitants of proper public discourse. Also, it creates no human scale and all the problems that derive from it, “prejudice, mistrust and social alienation” (182).
In the previous chapters Fleming presents various places in Chicago that have certain characteristics like the ones “commonplaces” require. Even though he mentions this places not even one has was its needed to be consider fully a “commonplace”. Fleming is highly skeptic of this places because they don’t contain all the characteristics needed, “accessibility, density, diversity, publicity and sovereignty” (185). He remarks how the most important of those are accessibility and diversity. Both are necessary for effective public discourse; he mentions how in some parts of Europe there are places that have both requirements and how radically different the set ups are compared to the ones in the United States.
Fleming concentrates in this chapter to mold his arguments and relate them to rhetoric. All the examples he used previously are explained and contextualize for rhetoric purposes. I’m anxious to know what are the ways Fleming beliefs as a society we could bring opportunities to marginalized parts of cities.
January 31, 2017
Preface City of Rhetoric
In the preface of City of Rhetoric, David Fleming argues that the social economic division that exists in our modern age is due to the poor political relations between people. His evidences are external realities gained by studies of the environments he uses as examples. Apart from that, he connects three different categories of thinking, political philosophy, urban design and rhetorical thinking. He narrates how in certain time periods there is a connection between this three different types of thinkings. He uses as an example United States post civil war until 1915 to prove the correlation between this three categories of thinking. Also, during this time period the American civic space was transitioning into a metropolitan area. This guided into the connection of many different cultures and ideologies. Fleming insists in how different cultures should be connected, not separated by civic space and the necessity to continue doing it.
January 31, 2017
In the first chapter of City of Rhetoric, David Fleming aims to show an example that reflects what he will later explain in his book. The example he uses is the development of certain parts of the city of Chicago. How during time they started to change depending on the people who lived there. He also discusses the organization of it and how the chapters intertwine. The focus of Fleming’s is the importance of rhetoric in the construction of society. How creating commonplaces for citizens to discuss is key for developing a sense of community. There are great benefits when talking to one another. Fleming also argues about the importance of having different cultures to conform a place to live. He uses political philosophy and statistics from different time periods as a way to prove his claims about living in community. At the end he calls for the use of rhetoric to solve problems. After reading this first chapter is clear why the book is called City of Rhetoric.
February 7, 2017
Single Benches and Architectural Regulation
It has become common today to dismiss the idea of how architecture is used as a regulation. In her recent work, Sarah Schindler, a professor of Law at the University of Maine School of Law offers harsh critique on how modern architecture creates barriers. Not many people think about physical environment serving as a way of social exclusion. Only few question why cities are developed the way they are.
To put it succinctly, urban planning is widely used to locate certain demographic groups into determined locations. Schindler deplores the tendency to exclude certain people from locations using architectural tricks. Consider how sometimes benches are designed with three individual seats instead of the traditional way. This design is not only for vanity it also serves the purpose of preventing homeless of sleeping in them (Schindler 1942). Moreover, architecture can also regulate human behavior. Lessig an author quoted by Schindler, demonstrates how certain architectural pieces can prevent human beings from interacting with each other, such as highways (Schindler 1947). The essence of the argument is how in minor and macro scales social interactions can be limited, with the knowledgeable application of architecture. Architecture is a powerful tool that has been used to regulate society. It continues to regulate it even more and prevents people from developing truthful social communication.
The upshot of all of this is that as a globalized society we need to push for social integration. We can’t limit ourselves to be spectators in how urban planners limit our interaction. Is a growing necessity for people to interact with each other no matter the differences in backgrounds. Race or socioeconomic status should not be determinants on who merges with who. People need to fight for architectural development that benefits the totality of the social spectrum.
Graff, Gerald, et al. “They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing: With Readings. 2nd ed, W.W. Norton & Co, 2012.
Sarah Schindler. “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment.” The Yale Law Review, 2015, pp. 1937–2023.