Course Title: Youth Studies 4: Human and Spatial Geographies of Youth

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Youth Studies 4: Human and Spatial Geographies of Youth

Credit Points: 12.00

Important Information:

Some of the sessions in this course may be taken away from the University, and alternative sessions may be organised out of the standard timetable.


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


365H Global, Urban and Social Studies


Sem 2 2019

Course Coordinator: Dr Patrick O'Keeffe

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 9468

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Building 8, Level 10

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities


Course Description

This course explores notions of multi-dimensional citizenship and the agency of youth through constructs of space, place, locality, community and belonging or attachment. It considers the ways in which young people are shaped and shaped by the socio-political, constructed and economic environments that they inhabit, physically and technologically. The course examines boundless existences, such as nomads, refugee and homeless youth, in contrast to traditional attachments to home and known natural environments as places. It questions the ways in which place, space and locality enable or constrain youth participation in the activities and functions of a society and/or culture.


Part 1: Space, place and time (Weeks 1-4)

What does it mean to belong? As Cuervo and Wyn have asked, what does it take for a young person to feel as though they belong? In this section, we explore the concept of belonging in relation to space, place and time. We consider the differences between space and place, and we examine how young peoples’ interactions with space and place can influence identity and citizenship, and can be important sites for the development and expression of youth culture.

We draw on concepts such as place attachment, place meaning and place identity, examining the ways in which people are connected to place, and the meaning that they derive from the experiences with places, and the relationships that have develop with (and within) places over time. In addition, we think about home. How do we understand home and its importance? How can we think of home in relation to belonging?

For the first assessment, students will draw on concepts that we cover in the first three weeks, to reflect upon and analyse their own sense of belonging – where do you belong?


Part 2: Power, space and inequality (Weeks 5-8)

In this section, we examine how young people can be shaped by space. There are three key elements of this that we cover in this course. First, we examine locality and inequality, by exploring how location can affect young peoples’ opportunities and aspirations. As a result of the spatialised inequalities evident in Australia, where someone lives can greatly affect how they perceive their futures, and their own sense of possibility.

Second, we examine the construction of public space as ‘adult space’. We explore negative constructions of young people in public space, including portrayals of young people engaging in young peoples’ activities and cultures as delinquent and deviant. In addition, we examine coercive measures aimed at reducing young peoples’ visibility in public spaces. Third, we analyse how young people can be excluded from public spaces, particularly in relation to race and ethnicity, sex and gender.

When examining how young people are constructed and acted on in public spaces, we refer back to our theorising of space and place, place attachment and meaning, and home and belonging. 


Part 3: Space, culture and belonging (Weeks 9-12)

Having critiqued the negative and limiting constructions of young people in public space, we examine how young people actively shape the spaces they inhabit, and use space to create, enact and connect to culture.

We do this by exploring how young people create subversive spaces, through repurposing public spaces, re-imagining spaces abandoned by adults and using space as a site for creative expression. We also explore how young migrants and refugees engage in place-making to develop a sense of connectedness and belonging to their new environments. Finally, we analyse how young Indigenous people in Australia and New Zealand develop and express identity, citizenship and connection with Indigenous culture, through attachment to space and place.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

In this course you will develop the following program learning outcomes:

  • Apply interdisciplinary bodies of theoretical knowledge and practical wisdom and skills to the scholarship of Youth Studies, praxis of Youth Work and orientation to professional human services.
  • Critically analyse, synthesise and reflect upon the factors, agencies and influences that shape the life-worlds, experiences and aspirations of young people to consider enabling models of practice and interventions.
  • Apply logic, creativity and criticality to conceptualise the agency of young people in navigating their social, cultural, political, economic, spatial and temporal dimensions of citizenship.
  • Design and conduct professional and scholarly research projects relating to Youth Work, Youth Studies and the contexts of young people thoughtfully, ethically, respectfully and inclusively.

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Chart the State of Victoria or other familiar area by categories of identity and demographic to deconstruct stereotypes of youth in relation to location.
  • Identify and account for the fluidity of identity and interactions in the day of a young person through spaces, places and functions.
  • Design and conduct a survey to gather non-identified data to seek insight into community perceptions of young people.
  • Critically evaluate the design of a town/suburb with regards facilities and symbols inclusive of youth participation.
  • Critically reflect upon indigenous culture and the centrality and sovereignty of place.

Overview of Learning Activities

This course is facilitated through a blended learning approach. It provides online seminars that provide a theoretical context in which to participate in short field trips, data collection and practical workshops. Online forums will also be used to facilitate ongoing discussions and collaborations related to the weekly topics.

Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems. This includes resources such as weekly readings, assessment supports, requirements for workshop and seminar participation and notes from classes.

The University Library has extensive resources for [discipline] students. The Library has produced a number of subject guides that includes quality online and print resources for your studies.

The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help via your Liaison Librarians.

Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and on your development against the program learning outcomes.

Assessment may include:

Task 1: Mapping: Where do you belong? 30%, 1000 words

Task 2: Photo Analysis: Analysing the inclusivity of public spaces, 40%, 1500 words

Task 3: Observation: How do young people shape the spaces they inhabit? 30%, 1200 words