To help cities better address challenges such as Inclusion of Migrants and Refugees, Poverty, and to make the most out of EU funding opportunities, the European Commission has launched a new web portal during the European Week of Regions and Cities.
The new Urban Data Platform of the Knowledge Centre for Territorial Policies operated by the Joint Research Centre, gives a single access point to shared indicators on the status and trends of over 800 European urban areas – on a variety of themes, such as demography, urban development, economic development, transport and accessibility, environment and climate, resource efficiency and social issues (including share of persons in tertiary education, participation in education, percentage of early school leavers, people at risk of poverty and social exclusion).
All indicators can be applied to three types of urban areas: densely populated areas, towns and suburbs, and rural areas. See examples below:
Source: Urban Agenda for the EU
Link: Urban Data Platform
Most definitions of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) have focused on actions related to managing the relationship with stakeholders; however, more recently the concept has evolved to include a deeper approach, which recognizes CSR and sustainability as a core part of the business model and strategy.
Furthermore, not only business organizations have the duty to act responsibily. Any organization has an impact on its social and natural environment while conducting its activity, and incorporating social responsibility means to do the best in order to make these impacts (intended or unintended) as positive as possible, and reduce or compensate the negative ones.
On 30. May 2016 an informal meeting of EU Ministers with responsibility for urban affairs took place in Amsterdam, at the initiative of the Dutch Presidency. During this meeting an "Urban Agenda for the EU", also called "Pact of Amsterdam", has been established. The goal is networking and knowledge sharing of city authorities at European level, also to achieve better regulation and the promotion at EU level.
The European Urban Agenda is a joint effort of European Commission, Member States and European Cities Networks to strengthen the recognition of the urban dimension by European and national policy actors. Through the Urban Agenda for the EU, national governments, the European Commission, European institutions and other stakeholders will be working together for a sustainable, innovative and economically powerful Europe that offers a good quality of life.
Urban populations have been growing more rapidly than ever in recent years: more than half of the world’s population nowadays lives in cities, and the number is expected to rise to 60 percent by 2030. Cities become increasingly influential in national and world affairs as they expand. However, this expansion is also presenting municipal governments with multiple challenges relating to social cohesion, economic development and sustainability.
A growing number of cities see the implementation of a lifelong learning strategy for inclusive, sustainable urban development as key to tackling these challenges. These cities are developing innovative strategies that allow citizens of all ages to learn new skills and competencies throughout life, thereby transforming their cities into ‘learning cities’. The UNESCO Learning City Award has been established in order to further promote lifelong learning for all and showcase good practice in building learning cities. It is conferred on cities that are implementing the Key Features of Learning Cities and have thereby achieved outstanding progress in building learning cities.
Source: UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, 29. April 2016
LOCATE aims at building platforms of local community learning, media and participation to help develop community capacity and stimulate innovation, entrepreneurship and capacity for change by encouraging the discovery and use of untapped potential from within communities and territories.
Big Foot is set out to tackle key issues at European level: marginalization of the rural mountain areas and their ageing population - by focusing on the valorization and maintenance of the elderly population, traditional knowledge and specific local culture. The Big Foot approach is implemented in three rural municipalities: Berkovitsa, Bulgaria; Trikala, Greece and Gubbio, Italy.
InRuTou aims at developing and testing a set of tools and innovative models for facilitating the development of sustainable tourism in rural areas, specifically in mountainous regions, by fostering a community consultation process, and for training selected opinion leaders to act as multipliers in enhancing community tourism planning via training existing and new local tourism operators, with various degrees of experience, professional and educational background.
The Australian Learning Communities Network Inc (ALCN) was formed in 2001. ALCN is a network of leading edge practising agencies building sustainable communities using learning as the key driving element.
It now has a membership comprising around 38 learning communities around Australia, represented by lead agencies such as local government, Adult Education Centres, Private Organisations, Libraries, Community Centres, Universities, Charitable Organisations, Peak Learning Bodies, Youth Agencies and Technical and Further Education Institutes. The lead agencies have formed, within each learning community, a network of partnerships comprising business, local government, education, government authorities, community interests, libraries, and support services agencies.
The ALCN recognises that the aims and goals of most organisations/groups cannot be achieved in isolation and there is a need for partnerships within the community. The emphasis needs to shift to strategic alliances and partnerships, improved linkages between stakeholders such as education, vocation, technology, employer groups, government agencies and regional development.
Bologna's Mayor Merola about to give civic collaborators keys to the city at the recent Civic Collaboration Fest:
It all began with park benches. In 2011, a group of women in Bologna, Italy wanted to donate benches to their neighborhood park, Piazza Carducci. There was nowhere to sit in their park. So they called the city government to get permission to put in benches. They called one department, which referred them to another, which sent them on again. No one in the city could help them. This dilemma highlighted an important civic lacuna -- there simply was no way for citizens to contribute improvements to the city. In fact, it was illegal.
Fast forward to May 16, 2015. The mayor, city councilors, community leaders, journalists, and hundreds of others gathered at the awe-inspiring MAST Gallery for the opening ceremony of Bologna’s Civic Collaboration Fest celebrating the one year anniversary of the Bologna Regulation for the Care and Regeneration of the Urban Commons, a history-making institutional innovation that enables Bologna to operate as a collaborative commons. Now Bologna’s citizens have a legal way to contribute to their city. Since the regulation passed one year ago, more than 100 citizen-led projects have signed “collaboration pacts” with the city under the regulation to contribute urban improvements with 100 more in the pipeline.
The 13th PASCAL International Conference, Learning Cities 2040 - Global, Local, Connected, Sustainable, Healthy and Resilient, is taking place from June 3rd to June 5th, 2016 at the University of Glasgow. It is will focus on future directions for Learning Cities at a time of considerable challenge and opportunity for cities, with significant development in their role and contribution to learning. Following soon after the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) 2nd International Conference on Learning Cities in Mexico City with the inauguration of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities, the UN Paris conference on climate change, and UN decisions on sustainable development goals, the conference provides opportunities to share ideas and experience on the development and role of Learning Cities in this challenging context, with opportunities for fresh ideas and innovative forms of partnership.
Two years ago Prof. Michael Osborne asked me to contribute to a special issue of UNESCO's international review of education, dedicated to the topic of learning cities & regions. The publication should shed some light on quality in developing learning cities & regions, based on knowledge gained from EU sponsored projects and my evaluation work in the field. The following reflections build on the arguments already brought to the fore, and take those a step further by raising 8 fundamental questions towards building successful learning cities & regions.
In order to make lifelong learning reality, EU member states over the past two decades have promoted structural change in order to make their educational systems more flexible. More recently, national governments have started to decentralise the design and provision of adult education from the higher levels to local or regional governments, and to stimulate the building of local networks for lifelong learning. It is supposed that those networks are in a better position to react rapidly to changes and match learning needs with demands. Moreover, stakeholders on the micro-level are expected to bring learning closer to home but also closer to the situations in which it is applied (work, family, care, hobbies etc.).
Susannah Chambers, NIACE discusses in her vlog the positive contributions and valuable skills Community Learning can bring to learners and society. Underpinning research evidence is presented to support the call for there to be national investment in a radical new vision for Community Learning.
by Susannah Chambers on 16 Oct 2015
Source: NIACE Website
The XPLOIT project was created to enhance the exploitation of the many European learning projects. Most of them are producing excellent materials and resources which are vanishing after the end of the funding period. The question was (and still is) why and the mission was to find a systematic practice in supporting new infrastructures in the local communities to make use and adopt those many resources.
One of the main findings of the project was that every community has to find its own way of using outcomes or European projects based on the local needs, capacities and stategic perspectives. It is very important to identify the key drivers in a learning community, the challenges they have to deal with and the capacities of the community in place. This finding is building a strong bridge to the DISCUSS-project because it points at CoPs bringing together experts working within the EU-projects who can adopt the findings and materials produced theit to local needs from an abstract and theoretical point of view and local experts who are able to define and express the needs of a community and its capacities.
Lifelong Learning has to constantly re-examine and restate its beliefs and practices in order to stay relevant. When I started in Adult Education some 25 years ago, Local Authorities and all post 16 education providers had generous funding available to support adults who had either been disadvantaged by their education, or who simply needed new skills. Working in the Welsh Valleys area we were able to build upon the spirit of co-operation we found amongst the women’s groups that had sprung up during the miners’ strike. Using European funding we could provide ICT labs and intensive one year training programmes in post mining communities.
Alongside our part-time humanities degree in the community we offered European funded ICT training and this attracted more than 3,000 adults eager to learn new skills. These centres transformed their communities and still offer a vital lifeline. The centres were staffed by local volunteers who were part of the community and understood the community’s needs. We had contact with other providers but each body provided what they and the centres thought was required.
The learning city concept can contribute greatly to lifelong learning objectives within a community (rural area, neighbourhood, city or region). However, it must be well planned, engage stakeholders from across different sectors and most importantly provide a mechanism for monitoring progress.
I define lifelong learning using the PASCAL definition ‘structured, purposeful learning throughout the lifespan, from cradle to grave’. This links with the UNESCO definition of a Learning City, which feature the mobilization of resources for some broad goals to do with individual empowerment, economic and cultural prosperity, social cohesion and sustainable development. The resources include formal education, workplace learning, community and family learning, technology, ensuring a quality experience while developing a culture of learning within a community.
The Role of Hume Global Learning Village Committee in building communities of practice & social capital in Hume, Australia.
When Hume City Council established the Hume Global Learning Village in 2003, they set up a dual structure of a high level Advisory Board and a locally- based Committee to support and facilitate the initiative. The role of the Advisory Board was to set strategic directions for the initiative while the Committee was to give a local voice and access to local organisations ad networks. The Committee has continued to facilitate the village since then, despite a significant change in its status in 2014, and in the process has built communities of practice across Hume that facilitate communications, shared understanding and knowledge, and above all trust in supporting successive Village strategic plans.
The Hume district of Melbourne is a diverse area with successive waves of migrants so that the Global Learning Village had to address a broad range of social, cultural, and economic issues. The Committee, as the local voice of the initiative brought together representatives of schools, Neighbourhood Houses, a broad spectrum of community organisations, and individual advocates for a better Hume. It was chaired by a high school principal who was also a member of the Board with an academic member of the Board also participating in the Committee.
I interpret a community of practice as a group of people which learns how to improve its knowledge, its behaviour and its influence as a result of interaction between each other and with other groups. I suggest below 3 case studies where this happened.
Case 1: Schools-Industry Twinning - tapping into the expertise of different organisations
Woodberry Down, an inner city London school, had a rich ethnic mix within its catchment area and a high proportion of one-parent families. It was situated in a difficult area of inner London with an unenviable local crime record where there is very little background of learning, much less lifelong learning. It also had a dynamic head teacher in Michael Marland whose passed on his passion for using new ideas to serve his students to his staff.
By contrast, the city location of the mighty IBM, 3 miles away was situated in the City of London, one of the richest areas in the world. It employed 700 highly trained professional people – systems analysts, salesmen, managers, experts on all aspects of computing, and most of them with complementary talents, skills, experiences and knowledge outside of their work life.
Following new lifelong learning policies through the past years there’s a rapid growing of VET networks throughout Europe, with a strong tendency to interlocking educational activities across organisations and sectors. Apparently this shift towards multilateral and transversal cooperation in VET calls for new and innovative approaches to joint decision making, shared planning, coordinated implementation and quality control of educational provision.
However the vast majority of instruments and methods of quality assurance available for educational planning, monitoring and evaluation on provider level do not meet the new requirements. They are designed for managing the quality of either individual organisations or discrete training processes and structures, and this way are systematically counting out collaborative quality processes within newly emerging learning networks.
Through recent Leonardo da Vinci programme periods the European CERN partnership, with the help of evaluation, planning and management experts had developed a set of quality instruments in order to bridge this gap. Besides research papers, evaluation handbooks and training programmes the EVAL II project with SPEAK produced an strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation tool for VET networks, which in the course of the Leonardo da Vinci pilot project EVAL IV has been tested and validated in collaboration with VET institutes and stakeholders.
The VETWORKS project transferred the SPEAK instrument within a multi-stakeholder approach to national VET networks, and advanced their effectiveness and efficiency by using the European common quality assurance framework as a reference framework for implementation. In accordance with the Helsinki goals, the project aimed at improving educational planning and training delivery within local, regional and sectoral VET networks in order to become a world quality reference and develop a common culture of quality improvement.
Over the past decade, the Learning Region has become a widely adopted concept in European education policies. However the concept has taken different forms and has been reflected in a variety of network figurations. From different departures points and though various pathways many projects have developed domain specific knowledge in the area of social capital building, governance and institution building, stakeholder collaboration, public-private partnerships and transversal cooperation. The basic intention of the R3L+ project was to capitalize on this diversity by bringing together actors from our respective countries in order to learn from each other and jointly elaborate a common quality framework for the development and management of cooperative learning arrangements among educational providers, SMEs and public agencies.
Findings from recent evaluations have shown that a major obstacle towards a broader diffusion of the learning regions concept is a lack of common quality instruments, which would allow for trusting and sustainable cooperation among educational actors. Following the priority of the Grundtvig call, the project addressed the problem of improving quality in adult education by reflecting good practice to be found in Learning Regions in the light of the Common Quality Assurance Framework (CQAF). More specifically the project capitalized on good practice found in Learning Regions, and further developed a common set of quality methods and instruments to ensure the development, assurance and improvement of the quality of learning networks in compliance with the Common Quality Assurance Framework.
From the project results the partners have derived a handbook, best practice guide and training module for managers and stakeholders of learning regions, which allows for the effective planning, implementation, evaluation and review of cooperation among educational providers within Learning Regions.
EUROlocal is the European storehouse on the local and regional dimensions of lifelong learning. EUROlocal reinforces the EC policy on lifelong learning regions by collecting the tools, strategies, learning materials, reports and everything concerned with their development. EUROlocal represents an easily-accessible resource for local initiatives to the collective experience and knowledge resulting from these pan-European efforts.
In progress ...