Ohio Wesleyan University Labyrinth. Photo by Brian Rellinger
Are you a faculty or staff member or administrator charged with finding a way to cohere your college community? Are you a staff development coordinator? Are you in charge of a learning community on your campus? Are you a counselor looking for ways to help students integrate their academic experiences? Are you looking for meaningful across the curriculum academic engagement? Are you a chaplain seeking another tool to use with students and faculty?
You might want to consider how having a labyrinth on your campus can engage all the members of your community in ways that honor the uniqueness of your academic culture while strengthening your institution.
Labyrinths are ancient archetypes dating back 4,000 years or more. They usually consist of a meandering design on a singular path that leads from the outer edge in a circuitous way to the center. There are no tricks and no dead ends. Unlike a maze where you can lose your way, the labyrinth is a tool that can help you find your way. Useful for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation, they are also thought to enhance right-brain activity. Labyrinths evoke metaphor, sacred geometry, spiritual pilgrimage, mindfulness, stress-reduction, environmental art, and community building.
Labyrinths can be built from a wide array of materials, can range from simple to more complex, and can be permanent or portable. Labyrinth activities can be one-time, ongoing, seasonal, communal or personal.
| Roman Meander
| Chartres Medieval
| Baltic Wheel
Labyrinths are an open source archetype that can be adapted for use depending on the intention, setting, and budget. Temporary labyrinths can be created cheaply and easily with chalk on concrete, paint or ribbon on a lawn, or masking tape indoors. Canvas labyrinths are a good place to start. They can be moved and stored easily. They can be offered for special events, during times of stress or for interfaith religious holidays, and can also be used as a resource for teaching, learning and reflection throughout the year.
For festivals or fundraisers, labyrinths can be created with common objects such as canned food, shoes, books, flowers, or electric tea lights. Semi-permanent labyrinths can be built with organic materials such as wood or stones reclaimed from landscaping.
Permanent labyrinths can be created to enhance or harmonize with the campus environment, a beautiful feature for all to enjoy in the long term. These are often created with precision-cut pavers or stone, or with crushed granite on concrete.For more information contact Lars Howlett
Learning with the Labyrinth has proved a valuable resource for many educators, advisers and administrators who are keen to bring a labyrinth to their campus. It is the first ‘mainstream’ book on this topic, part of a Teaching and Learning in Higher Education series, and includes a research overview, free resources to photocopy and many ideas about use of the labyrinth in teaching, guidance, educational development and outreach, from an international range of contributors. Visit the website for a free download of the detailed introductory chapter. Editors: Dr Jan Sellers and Professor Bernard Moss (both of whom are Veriditas facilitators). Now published by Macmillan International Higher Education
The Labyrinth Society Research: https://labyrinthsociety.org/a-context-for-research
Labyrinths in University and Colleges: https://labyrinthsociety.org/labyrinths-in-places
The growing field of Contemplative Pedagogy includes labyrinth walking as one of many methods, as illustrated on the Tree of Contemplative Practices.
Example: Thompson Rivers University, Canada: Contemplative Practice and Creative Writing
a Veriditas webinar with Dr. Jan Sellers
At colleges and universities around the world, labyrinths offer time and space for students, faculty and staff to reflect, relieve stress, and build community. Whether traced with a finger, offered at an event, or installed for everyday use, there are a variety of designs, sizes, and methods for making labyrinths available to everyone.
Discover the opportunities and considerations for creating labyrinths on campus in our third webinar as part of an ongoing series exploring labyrinths in higher education.
a Veriditas webinar with Dr. Jan Sellers
Educator and author Dr. Jan Sellers shares her experience and advice on the use of canvas labyrinths on college and university campuses.
a Veriditas webinar with Lars Howlett
Designer and builder Lars Howlett offers practical advice on creating permanent labyrinths in a variety of materials and settings.
with Veriditas Faculty Lars Howlett and Steve Terry
Perhaps more than any other setting, campus labyrinths are situated amidst a community with the widest range of diversity in age, interest, and background. While the labyrinth is a universal archetype open to unlimited designs, approaches, and experiences, how can an institution ensure the site realize its full potential as a common ground for students, faculty, staff, and the public? Hear the story of how an artist in residency at Writtle College in Essex, England, opened new avenues in the fields of garden design, placemaking and community engagement. Learn how temporary labyrinths made with locally sourced, natural materials can transform the academic environment physically, academically and personally.
Join labyrinth designer and builder Lars Howlett in conversation with Steven Terry, leader of the undergraduate Landscape Architecture program at Writtle School of Design on Thursday, November 21, at 10am PDT (UTC 18:00). Register for free with Veriditas to join the Zoom webinar live with an opportunity to ask questions or receive a link to view a recording. This is the fourth session in an on-going series of webinars envisioned by the Labyrinths in Higher Education Initiative led by Irene Plunkett and hosted by Veriditas.