The Spencer Foundation awarded a large research grant to Professors Liz de Freitas and Matt Curinga from Adelphi University's Manhattan Institute for STEM and the Imagination (MIXI) and Professor Laura Kurgan from Columbia University's Center for Spatial Research (CS4R) for their project Mapping school buildings using sensory ethnographic methods: A district-
wide study of school architecture and spatial justice.
The project investigates the "spaces" of learning in the complex urban setting of New York City schools. The researchers will work closely with high school and middle school student teams to design the tools and methods necessary to "map" their schools. The students will generate their own maps that describe the sensory and affective aspects of their schools, shedding light on the interconnections between the built environment and the learning environment. These local maps will be expanded to examine the spatial relationships of the neighborhood, school districts, and city. Analysis of this work will offer insight into the ways that students' conception of "school" changes when they attend more deeply to the architecture and design of their environments and re-envision what their schools may look like. The research design team will work with students to create a gallery of their work which will be displayed in public art shows. Researchers will connect student maps to spaces and networks at the district and city level to gain a perspective of the spatial relationships between schools, learning, and the urban design. Findings will give us a better understanding of spatial justice with the Country's largest school system.