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Between the office and the coffee shop: an examination of spaces used for research degree supervision

A Research Paper by Doug Specht, published by Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education

The last two decades have seen increased attention given to the role of space within the university campus, with numerous new learning spaces forming part of both the physical and the digital campus. Much of the focus of how these spaces work to create supportive learning environments has been on undergraduate teaching. However, these spaces offer a great opportunity to also enhance the doctoral researcher’s supervision process through the creation of new learning spaces that break away from the traditional office setting. In taking the coffee shop as the antithesis of the office, this paper examines theories around space-making in relation to doctoral research, adding in the experiences of UK doctoral researchers to provoke further thought and discussion about how new spaces within a university and outside the campus might be considered part of the pedagogical approach to supervision. Results suggest that although there is much to be considered, doctoral researchers spend the majority of their time in traditional spaces—where they feel the most comfortable—and become progressively less comfortable the further supervision moves towards public spaces.


Photo by Julia Taubitz on Unsplash

Doug Specht


Dr Doug Specht is a cultural geographer and educationalist. His research explores themes related to environmental justice, human rights, and access to education, with a focus on the production and codification of knowledge though cartographic artefacts and in educational settings. In recognition of his work, he has been appointed as a Chartered Geographer and Chartered Teacher. In addition, he has been awarded Advanced Teacher Status, alongside being a Senior Fellow of AdvanceHE. Dr. Specht has authored numerous articles and books, including Mapping Crisis, the Routledge Handbook of Geospatial Technology and Society, the Media and Communications Student Study Guide and Imagining Apocalyptic Politics in the Anthropocene. He writes regularly on ethics, environmental and human rights, education, and mapping practices in such publications as WonkHE, The Conversation, Geographical, and for Times Higher Education. Dr Specht is a member of the editorial board of the European Journal of Geography, Westminster papers in Communication and Culture, and Anthropocenes – Human, Inhuman, Posthuman. He is Chair of the Environmental Network for Central America.


17 March 2022
Research Area
Published By
Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education
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