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Digital Education team blog


Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


Intentional Hospitality

By Samantha Ahern, on 8 November 2021

Black & white illustration of the Mad HatterEarlier this month I ran a workshop for a small group of colleagues on the topic of Intentional Hospitality, and in particular on Intentionally equitable Hospitality within learning spaces. Whether they be offline, online or hybrid.

The ideas begind this workshop and the resulting discussion I hoped would ensue were partly driven by two particualr articles that I had read:


The Oxford English Dictionary defines hospitality as “friendly and generous behavior toward guests“. In the University context we most commonly come aross this with regards to academic hospitality. Academic hospitality can take multiple forms (Phipps and Barnett, 2007):

  • It takes material form in the hosting of academics giving papers.
  • It takes epistemological form in the welcome of new ideas.
  • It takes linguistic form in the translation of academic work into other languages.
  • It takes touristic form through the welcome and generosity with which academic visitors are received.
  • These forms intersect each other and may co-exist at any one time.

But what does hospitality mean in a teaching and learning context? And how do we extend hospitality to and foster a sense of hospitality within our student body and in our learning spaces?

Additionally, we need to consider what limits our ability to be hospitable.

  • Thinking about the following question prompts, what does it mean to be intentionally hospitable:
  • How do we make students feel welcome in all our teaching and learning spaces?
  • Are students able to bring their whole selves to these spaces?
  • Whose contributions are privileged and how?
  • How can we democratise contributions?
  • Is there a sense of psychological safety?

What can we do to create spaces where we are intentionally equitably hospitable?

These are not questions that I have answers to, but as a community they are things we should think about and discuss. I am more than happy to run additional workshops with colleagues or to share the Mentimeter presentation I have created with question prompts. Please email me: s.ahern@ucl.ac.uk

Further readings:

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