Video | What are Third Places and How Can You Cultivate Them?
Where do you go when you're not at home or work? And where do your students gather to cut loose, discuss their interests, and make new friends?
While your answers to these questions will differ from mine and others reading this post, we're really all thinking about the same place—the Third Place.
"Third Places" is a term coined by sociologist Dr. Ray Oldenburg in his book The Great Good Place, that talks about the importance of interaction among members of a community outside their First Places (their homes) and their Second Places (work or school). In a 2015 interview with 360 Magazine, Dr. Oldenburg explained that Third Places promote democracy, unity, friendship, the generation of social capital, and personal growth among other benefits.
And while he also mentions that he doesn't think social media is an effective Third Place, I'd argue that digital spaces can at the least be useful when they bolster real interaction. For example, using a group in Schoology to post updates, have discussions, and share resources as a supplement to or extension of the face-to-face interaction can enhance Third Place interactions.
To explore this more, I pulled William Illingworth, Instructional Technologist and Systems Administrator at Lancaster Bible College, who happened to be visiting our office into a tiny room to talk about modern Third Places and how to cultivate them.
Do you cultivate digital or face-to-face Third Places at your institution? How has that worked out?