Spring 2017 LSC Roundtables

Focusing on the Future of Planning Learning Spaces

Host sites: 

  • March 3, Oregon State University. Host: Jon Dorbolo, Associate Director—Technology Across the Curriculum
  • March 9, North Carolina State University. Host: Robert Beichner, Director—NCSU STEM Education Initiative 
  • March 17, University of Missouri Kansas City. Hosts: David Miller (CRB) & David Reid (Gould Evans)
  • May 18, Indiana University. Host: Julie Johnston, Director of Learning Spaces 
  • June 7, University of Minnesota. Host: Robin Wright, Head, Department of Biology Teaching & Learning
  • June 22, Colorado State University Fort Collins. Host: Katharine Leigh, Professor Interior Design 
  • TBD, University of the District of Columbia. Host: Erik Thompson, Acting Vice President for Facilities & Real Estate
  • Other: March 26 (DC). In collaboration with VentureWell (https://venturewell.org/): LSC Roundtable on “Spaces for Making.” Local Host: SmithGroupJJR 

These regional roundtables, piloted in 2016, are a unique opportunity for academics and architects to step away from focusing on a particular project with a specific deadline and budget to engage in open-ended discussions about what keeps them up at night when thinking about planning spaces for learning. The threads of planning and learning were loosely woven through each of the four hour roundtables. Thinking about planning brought attention to issues such as faculty development and the institutional culture for risk-taking. Thinking about learning brought attention to the student of today—who they are, how they learn, what they are expected to become and be able to do upon graduation.

The concept of the roundtable is that of convening a small number of people—each with a particular field of experience, collectively representing the desired diversity of people to be at the table when an institution focuses on the future of planning learning spaces.  There are 10 academics invited to participate in each roundtable; five architects will be selected to participate in each roundtable. The flow of discussions goes something like this:

  • Self-introductions: what keeps me up at night (~30 minutes)
  • Self-assembling of three-person teams: common interests, passions, questions (~30 minutes)
  • Teams tackle their assigned task: identifying a critical question to be addressed in planning; prepare a poster that: a) visually illustrates the question and responses to that question, and: b) makes the case for “why” the question is critical to address in the context of focusing on the future of planning learning spaces (~75 minutes)
  • Teams report out: (~60 minutes)
  • General discussion: What next—why and how (~ 20 minutes)

Periodic stories from the 2016 Roundtables are posted on the LSC website. These provide a glimpse into roundtable discussions.  The 2016 architectural portfolios are also posted. Be in touch if you have questions.

Application Process: 

Request: If you have a great client in the region of one of the roundtables, please send me name/expertise. Academics are invited; they do not apply. As before roundtable involve persons with diverse backgrounds—expertise, sphere of responsibility, institutional type. Your suggestions will be important to making this happen. 

1st stage: Submit a brief description of a project (completed after 2012 or work-in-progress); specify six questions that drove or are driving the project. Submissions to be reviewed and critiqued by LSC brain trust members.
First round application.

2nd stage: firms selected to participate in a roundtable will respond to the critique, submitting a final set of materials for their portfolio. (Portfolios will be formatted by the LSC.) Architect firms may submit two applications. 

Deadline:    January 16, 2017 –1st Stage. Rolling deadline for 2nd stage.
Fee:        Fee for participating is $750.00.


It seems critical to be more strategic in making the case that space matters to a broader community of stakeholders and peers, engaging a great number of colleagues. Stories and reports from roundtables are making it easier to make the case. One important connection scheduled:   

  • May 4, at the National Science Foundation Headquarters (Arlington VA). 

The Division of Undergraduate Education at NSF (DUE) in brown bag lunch (part of a regular series addressing topics that keep NSF staff on top of what is happening in the field). As many of your STEM clients know, DUE’s current priority is supporting undergraduate transformational at the institutional level

Other connections underway include with CUR (Council on Undergraduate Research). The plan is that the final 2017 CUR Quarterly will focus on learning spaces. This will include stories about spaces in all disciplines, not just STEM.  I am talking with peer organizations such as CUR about convening a roundtable targeted for their members. Late fall 2016 I orchestrated a roundtable at and for a large state university on the West Coast. The invitational roundtable in DC in March is one in a series of collaborations with VentureWell over the past several years. There is great potential for adapting the roundtable concept in many different settings.  


Given the scope of activities underway and planned, I am seeking sponsors for the work of the LSC in 2017. There will be two categories of sponsorship: $5000 and $3000. Herman Miller is the first sponsor at $5000. Please be in touch for details.