Sheila Lintott and Melissa Eng (Bucknell University)
Employing an interdisciplinary approach involving philosophy and geography, we are investigating diversity in friendship given the claim that friendship is circumstantial. We begin our study by distributing a three-part survey to students at Bucknell University in order to gather a variety of data types. The quantitative web-based questionnaire aims to collect relatively factual data about an individual’s identity, personal friendships, and experience as a student at Bucknell. The qualitative set of discussion prompts aims to collect more abstract, philosophical data about impressions of friendship and diversity in a campus setting. Lastly, the map portion aims to collect spatial data to visualize how students feel about spaces on campus.
In relation to the notion of friendship as circumstantial, we anticipate and hope that our project can reveal some connection between space and friendship. Evidence that similar people tend to find each other in various settings is largely a mystery. Moreover, our project crucially asks how different people find each other. If friendship is circumstantial, perhaps structural organization can be instrumental in fostering more diverse friendships. Considering that friends have a critical influence on the creation of self-identity, we suggest that diverse friendships can work to undermine cultural stereotypes and biases. By examining how meaning is embedded in space to create a sense of place, we ultimately hope that the survey data can bring us closer to discovering an effective way to repurpose spaces on campus to facilitate not only the formation, but also the continuation of diverse friendships.