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by Kathie Kane, Fall 2011

The ecology of educational environments with regard to design and materials follows in the path of transformation in paradigms of teaching and learning.

According to Steven Crane, architect of educational design and building, “In the past, the curriculum fit the building, but now the architect must design buildings to fit the curriculum.” (J. Enderle, “Trends in Education,” Social Planning & Management, 16 October 2003)

In response to the unique setting of Mānoa campus and influenced by the concept of agility in classroom and building environment, the Office of the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and the Office of Faculty Development and Academic Support envisioned a present and future enterprise in which spacial and technological structures enable and sustain multiple and simultaneous platforms of teaching and learning, emerging from instinctively kinetic rather than monastic traditions. The predicament? To align agile design with faculty development for faculty who are stepping away from sub-standard but familiar environments, facing surprising risks and professional rewards of becoming a co-learner in real time with their students.

A movement towards agility in education—as in educational spaces—is a response to more immersive, more engaged opportunities to teach and learn. The predicament posed is more complex than the design of an agile physical environment, rather how to align that design with agility in faculty, pedagogy, teaching and learning schedules, curriculum, and subsequent demands on faculty development.

Connectivity is engendered through the development of spaces and technologies that recognize the following:

  • The technology literacies of students;
  • The desire of junior and senior faculty alike to generate transformations in their courses, their teaching and student learning;
  • The movement at administrative levels to achieve a reconfigured educational enterprise.

These are the constituents with whom we will work in designing energizing spaces for engaged, innovative teaching and learning environments.

Construction projects in educational institutions become a part of a hidden-in-plain-sight curriculum and as such, campus classrooms and building either contribute to a crisis of sustainability in intellectual and material resources, or signal university leadership and commitment to a transformed educational enterprise.

According to founder and president of Second Nature, Tony Cortese, university facilities engender a culture of sustainability when what students learn in class about fiscal, intellectual and social sustainability and responsibility is reflected through the university buildings, operations and investments.