The many levels of participation

On the 5th March, 2019, Caledonia Hub gave a keynote discussion presentation about learning
landscapes at an info session at the Info Centre Korona. Key message: through participation, better
spaces can be created. Caledonia has written about flipping the campus even earlier, and below,
we present another way of flipping campus development.

Allowing people to participate is a way of promoting interest and creating engagement. one of the biggest challenges for the participants, when creating spaces and landspaces for learning, is the act of envisioning and conceptualising solutions that have little or nothing to do with the spaces they have used during their studies or working life. At the University of Helsinki, there are currently several bigscale campus transformation processes. One of them is the Viikki Info Centre Korona. Korona will be retrofitted, and plans for the changes have been presented to the users on several occasions. The aim is to co-create spaces that allow for agile uses, new services and social encounters between user groups and other stakeholders.

There are multiple paths to participate people. In what follows, we present ways of moving from mere notifying to true empowerment (figure adapted and re-configured from the manual “The UK Higher Education Learning Space Toolkit”).


The triangles have been flipped on purpose. The most rooted way of allowing for participation is empowerment – hence, it stands in the peak of the triangle. On the other hand, empowerment is the least frequent way of participating, and is thus represented as the smallest yet also as the most impactful of them all. Not every process enables – despite a clear vision to do so – achieving such levels of participation. Nonetheless, empowerment works as a feasible goal: every step taken to achieve it is a step closer to a deep level of engagement on a community level.

Caledonia Hub is currently working in collaboration with transdisciplinary teams to create tools and practices that, in addition to studying participatory processes, also build means to implement participation and co-design in on-going campus transformations. We invite our networks to participate in a shape shift that will be achieved together!

Text on the 6th March, 2019: Niclas Sandström

- Campus Learning and Development Initiatives Caledonia, University of Helsinki