Limiting social interactions to work and home can be confining, according to KerryAnn O’Meara, a professor of higher education, associate dean for faculty affairs and graduate studies, and director of the ADVANCE program at UMD. People need a “third space”—a neutral meeting with peers but few formal obligations—to gain needed perspective.KerryAnn O'Meara

In an essay published yesterday in Inside Higher Ed, O’Meara discusses how she works to provide those spaces here at UMD:

Years ago, I joined a knitting group. I wasn’t particularly good at or interested in knitting. I joined because the knitting circle was made up of mothers of young children who were balancing some combination of family, work and community roles, like me. Once a week we gathered—some bringing sleeping babies, some on lunch breaks from work—and enjoyed each other’s company.

We made women’s felt handbags that would be sold to contribute to a local charity. Although having this charitable goal was important, it was not the main reason that we attended the group. We were there for the company, the laughter, the intimacy, the food we shared and the resonance we felt as we told familiar stories about children, co-workers, partners and financial pressures.

Read the rest of the essay in Inside Higher Ed.