Are you interested in collaborative work and local history? Professor Laura Romano is instructing a semester-long immersive learning course about makerspaces and their value in cities in the wake of an industrial decline. Makerspaces are collaborative, community spaces that extend typically inaccessible resources to a larger population.

A message from Professor Laura Romano about her VBC Fellowship, Fall 2019: “Makerspaces and their Impact on Cultural Identity in Post-Industrial Cities”

Muncie and the Makerspace Movement

In this Virginia Ball Center seminar, we will explore how community craft and “makerspaces” are especially important and beneficial in Muncie. Since Muncie has been affected by an industrial decline, this community has struggled to form a strong cultural identity.

“Do it yourself,” “Makers” movements, and the “makerspaces” that follow these movements emphasize non-commercial, equitable material production. The “aesthetic of necessity” driving these movements cultivates community. In “makerspaces,” members share machines, rooms, and materials as they work in a collaborative atmosphere.

Archiving the Makerspace Movement

My students will be critical researchers in this project–we will conduct oral history interviews as well as ethnographic observation. Students will collaborate with one another and myself to participate in grounded theory research, a process in we will deliberately move back and forth between the data collection and analysis phases of research. We will use our findings craft a cohesive narrative of makers’ work in Muncie and beyond.

Students will create photo essays and narratives of Muncie makers for our book: a collection of oral histories of local makers, digital photo essays and a documentary video. Students will also be instrumental in planning and preparing the community event where we will present the completed book.

These products of our seminar will offer an in-depth look into makers and makerspaces, and offer suggestions and next steps for ways that we can bring together the theoretical and the practical in celebration of our community and for the purpose of cultural enrichment and identity.

If you’re interested in taking part in this project contact Laura Romano at for more details and application information.