Faculty-student interactions—both in and out of the classroom—can positively influence first-year students’ sense of belonging at university. The ‘Prof-in-Space’ pilot at the University of British Columbia is one approach to fostering informal community by embedding faculty in campus-wide, interdisciplinary informal learning spaces on the UBC-Vancouver campus.
- UBC Collegia Spaces: Oak Collegium, Tallwood Collegium, UBC Life Collegium & Arbutus Collegium
- First-Year Residence Halls: Place Vanier, Totem Park & Orchard Commons
- The Chapman Learning Commons
Within each space, we recruit a UBC faculty member to be a “Prof-in-Space” (Prof-in-Commons, Prof-in-Res, or Prof-in-Collegia) in an attempt to enhance a first-year students sense of “sense of academic culture” through informal connections with faculty members in their first year of university (Lizzio, 2006). This project brings faculty, staff and student-staff together to explore ways the campus can be enhanced to promote faculty-student interaction.
The initiative is supported by a collaboration between faculty members and the Centre for Student Involvement & Careers, UBC Residence Life, and the Irving K. Baber Learning Centre.
Profs-in-Spaces run activities around campus that encourage connection, conversation, curiosity, and resilience. These activities range from baking and trivia nights, meals with profs, open office hours, and even knitting. Through these types of activities, the hope is that students, particularly in their first-year, will see themselves as members of the academy. They'll also be more likely to foster connections with faculty members, which will serve them during their studies and in their career development. A 2016 ubc.ca story featured the early developments of the pilot: https://www.ubc.ca/stories/2016-fall/professor.html.