The Fairfield Makerspace

The Fairfield Makerspace

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8310-3.ch006
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The Fairfield Makerspace is located in the green belt corn growing area in the southeastern portion of Iowa, USA. The town hosts the Maharishi University of Management (MUM), which is unlike any university in the Midwest in that most members of the university community practice transcendental meditation (TM). This practice has led to a general misunderstanding between the university community and those that do not practice TM. MUM opened the Fairfield Makerspace in response to the mistrust between the town and the university. The role of the makerspace is to find commonality between communities in the areas of making and sustainable living. The space was finding its footing as it began their first year of operation. Learning communities are formed through workshops and special meetups called Transformation Tuesdays, where members upcycle items. This chapter explores the Fairfield Makerspace.
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From my interaction with people in the community, like at the hardware store or similar environments, I hear them say, “Oh, you work for the university? They don't like us over there.” People in the community think we don't like them. I try to tell them, “I don't think that's true. You need to just come and check it out.” But there is that preconception that they are not welcome, so we're doing everything we can to change that. — Lyndi Ouellette


Organization Background

The Fairfield Makerspace is a university-based site open to faculty, students, and staff of the Maharishi University of Management (MUM), as well as the public in the small town of Fairfield, Iowa. The non-profit and privately-owned MUM started out as Maharishi International University in 1971 and the name was later changed to Maharishi University of Management, to reflect the school’s role in preparing students “to successfully manage all areas of life—both personal and professional” (Schmidt-Wilk, Heaton, & Steingard, 2000). To understand the Fairfield Makerspace and its unique set of challenges, it is necessary to briefly visit the history of the school and its teaching practices. The story of MUM starts with its founder, born in India around 1917, whose given name was Mahesh Prasad Varma or Srivastava (Lowe, 2011). At some point after studying in India with a Hindu monk, Mahesh took the name Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, which means great (maha) sage (rishi), and yogi, which is reserved for practitioners of yoga (Lowe, 2011). Maharishi developed and later taught the Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI), which in 1972 became a course at MUM (Schmidt-Wilk, Heaton & Steingard, 2010). At the center of SCI is the practice of Transcendental Meditation (TM) which, according to Maharishi, leads to enlightenment (Wallace, 1974). SCI and TM are both rooted in the ancient Vedic Hindu scripts (Schmidt-Wilk, Heaton & Steingard, 2000). Wallace (1974) noted that Transcendental Meditation “is a systematic procedure to gain enlightenment, which is the development of one’s consciousness to the fullest potential.” The TM movement is grounded in ideas and ancient texts from India called the Veda which means knowledge (Lowe, 2011). Maharishi taught participants of TM to use simple mantras from a Vedic text called the Rig Veda, which is perhaps the oldest of the Veda texts (Lowe, 2011). In addition, it is said that the Vedic texts describe a systematic approach to achieving heightened consciousness.

TM is central to the teaching at the Maharishi School of Management, whereby students understand the field of heightened consciousness through awareness and experiential learning (Schmidt-Wilk, Heaton & Steingard 2000). Transformation of society is another important learning goal for students at MUM. Throughout their education, students are taught the importance of creativity and sustainability to advance the quality of life for everyone. Through TM and their education at MUM, students are able to implement and refine practices that help others. In addition, TM is said to, “lower stress, enhance mental clarity, and support overall health” for students (MUM, n.d.). MUM offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the following academic areas, in addition to other certification programs.

  • MUM Academic areas:

    • o

      Art (BA and BFA) and MFA in Studio Art

    • o

      Business (BA, MBA, Ph.D.)

    • o

      Computer Science (BA, MS)

    • o

      Literature and Writing (BA)

    • o

      Maharishi Vedic Science (BA, MA, Ph.D.)

    • o

      Mathematics (BS)

    • o

      Media and Communications (BA, MFA)

    • o

      Physiology and Health (BS, MS, Ph.D.)

    • o

      Sustainability (BA)

Key Terms in this Chapter

Fairfield Makerspace: Makerspace in Fairfield, Iowa located on the Maharishi University of Management (MUM) campus.

Business Incubator: Process to support new businesses as they go through the steps of starting up.

Trade Skills: Skills and careers which require specific training.

Sustainable Living Department: A department at MUM that houses the Fairfield Makerspace.

Fairfield, Iowa: Town located in Jefferson County, Iowa with a population of about 10,000.

Transcendental Meditation (TM): A systematic procedure to gain enlightenment, which is the development of one’s consciousness to the fullest potential.

Rig Veda: One of the oldest of the Veda texts used for transcendental meditation.

Maharishi University of Management (MUM): A university located in Fairfield, Iowa that practices transcendental meditation.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: Founder of MUM.

Upcycle: A process of transforming unwanted materials into new materials.

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