The university’s Intercultural Effectiveness Team invited Dr. James Banning, professor in the School of Education at Colorado State University, to come to ACU Nov. 14-15 and conduct a campus ecology assessment.
Banning began the initial work to create a field of study known as “campus ecology.” He is the author of the book,Â EducationÂ by Design: Creating CampusÂ EnvironmentsÂ that Work, which focuses on college and university environments.
Dr. Lesa Breeding, executive director of the Adams Center for Teaching and Learning, saidÂ Banning has visited campus once before, but only spent a short amount of time on campus. She said Dr. Jean-Noel Thompson, vice president of Student Life, and Dr. Robert Rhodes, vice president of Academic Affairs and provost, have worked with the IET to bring Banning back to Abilene.
Breeding said BanningÂ will present his findings to members of faculty during a noon meeting Nov. 15 in Hart Auditorium. She said the Adams Center helped coordinate Banning’s visit and they are happy to help host conversations so faculty can have access to this kind of information.
“He’ll look at sculpture, he’ll look at landscaping, he’ll look at buildings, he’ll look on the outside of buildings, he’ll look on the inside of buildings.” Breeding said. “But this is about examining the messages we send that we don’t always know we’re sending. We want ACU to be a place that welcomes others onto the campus an into our lives, and we can only do that effectively if we’re asking good questions about ourselves.”
Thompson said Banning was invited by the IET in 2010 to conduct a campus assessment.
“After spending a day-and-a-half studying various physical messages within our campus and interviewing students, Dr. Banning delivered a report in the form of a PowerPoint presentation,” Thompson said. “The information was quite compelling and helpful in our efforts to foster a multicultural campus experience.”
A document from Thompson and Rhodes was sent to faculty and staff, explaining Banning’s credentials and the purpose for his visit. In the document, campus ecology is defined as, “the study of the interrelationships between people and the college and university environment.” The document said Banning’s work focuses on what the physical features of the environment communicate to the inhabitants of the ornamentation. The physical features he will study include buildings, signs and symbols.
“Campus ecology provides us with the ability to focus on various aspects of our campus that either adds to or detracts from our commitment to foster ethnic and cultural diversity at ACU, and is particularly relevant to ACU’s increasing ethnic, cultural and religious diversity,” said Thompson.