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I am captivated by how museums galleries and libraries can embody people and place


empathy and altruism2


care and conversation



a place of stillness3,4

a sense of the slow

of support

i guess

for anyone who wanders in

even when they have to close for the night the warning bell seems mellow

the security guard apologetic

I am also captivated by how a physical space could allow

and inspire


deep reflection5

and in a time where we have been forced to revisit what it means to be human6 I wonder if we can simultaneously remake a building


an institution


so they represent

the same limitless time and space7

can we refashion buildings so they represent

and stand for and 

allow us

to stand for

and stand up

for the things that truly matter8

I wonder if a university can serve as captivating gathering story9 

a collection 

a collection institution that collects people too10 

draws them in

brings them together

be the place

and space

where you and I


all meet9

where we summon what’s best in us11

where we grow

And I wonder if they represent – can represent – could represent – and touch – everything you and I – we – care about. Become spaces that drip with ideas and metaphor5 and meaning. Purpose and hope. With the long arc of time12. With the uplifting vigour of possibility. Places and spaces with visceral weight. Keys. With the keys. With an air of – perhaps presence of – perhaps sense of

true wisdom

Could universities make us lean in13. So we bear witness5. Be witness14,15. Be present. This collection of physical buildings and connections. Filled with physical and metaphysical artefact16. Philosophical dreams17. That jolt us out of our preconceived notions18,19. Give us new ways to look at the world16,20. Bricks and mortar morph into living breathing being – story21 – stories. Narratives and knowledge our bodies understand even when our minds do not5,16

i wonder if these institutions

have the potential to light a fire  

under thousands of people

who have all the fuel they need

but often need a hand

striking the match22.


1. Powell

2. Mehta

3. Iyer

4. Watts

5. Faulkner

6. Akomalafe

7. Reynolds Barre

8. Webster-Wright

9. O’Tuama

10. Auge

11. Pattern

12. Dawesar

13. Lewry in Scolaro

14. Galvin

15. Pendergast

16. Denzin

17. Celermajor

18. Gallo

19. Dove in Masciotta

20. Fisher

21. Yunkaporta

22. harding


Initial prompt was a discussion on john. a. powell’s ‘large circle of human concern’. In addition to a student messaging me, “It’s ok I get it. Onto the next batch”. I had apologised for the delay in responding. Telling him I had been swamped wrapping up the semester. This course was finished. This was – at one point – part of the piece of writing I titled, perform | angst’.

Sometimes I have students introduce themselves as their s-number. Their student number. Like, “Hi I’m s4023456”. As if that will make it easier for me to identify them. In the swarming sea of people shuffled at high speed towards …. well I guess the door. Often they’re right. I use that number to search for them in messages and emails. To find out if we have ever met or connected in some way.

A student once wrote on one of those course evaluation forms, “he cared about us as people”. But sometimes I feel like I don’t have the time.

I think the higher education should slow down. Become a courageous example to the world. Be a place of stillness. Deep reflection. Allow us time – and make it safe – to just lean in. Become the stationary philosophical dream.


A former student stuck the note to my door during the pandemic. As far as I know it is still there.