Social justice is largely defined as the fair division of resources, opportunities, and privileges in society. This encompasses many elements that involve members of the community fulfilling certain roles and receiving their due benefits in return. One dimension that has emerged in recent years as crucial to the efforts of creating a socially just community, is spatial justice. In the world of education, this can be seen as the equitable occupancy and opportunities allowed to learners within the space where learning is expected to occur. This can mean classrooms and campuses but does not exclude public recreational areas where students tend to visit and interact with each other.
An example of how spatial injustice can be present in learning communities is the presence of statues of historical figures on college campuses that represent exclusion for a part of the population. Students may walk into a communal space within their own institution and be faced with an image that makes them feel like they do not belong. In such cases, spatial exclusion does not come from words. It is embedded in the planning and design of the space, and it is not always easily reversible.
One way this issue is being addressed at Rutgers University is by the GRID (Game Research and Immersive Design) team at TLT through the development of augmented reality games that promote spatial justice. These games aim to create meaningful engagement between the learner and selected spaces or historical markers, allowing them an opportunity to learn about their history and background. Even though those statues and the realities of what they represent still exist, the intention behind the AR interactions is to give students a sense of connection through a learning experience. This application of technology aims to build inclusivity that may otherwise be absent in the planning and design of many spaces they inhabit every day.
Please visit the TLT website for more information on how technology can be used to promote spatial justice in your learning spaces.