Eckert T., Preisinger-Kleine R., Fartusnic C., Houston M., Jucevičienė P., Dillon, B., Nemeth, B., Kleisz T., Ceseviciute, I., Thinesse-Demel J., Osborne, M., Wallin, E.
Quality in Developing Learning Cities and Regions. A Guide for Practitioners and Stakeholders
Munich, January 2012, ISBN 978-3-00-037333-6
The concept of Learning Regions, Cities or Communities is very closely connected to the basic ideas of Lifelong Learning. We can find articles about the need for Lifelong Learning in the 1960s (e.g. Dahrendorf, 1965) noting that different terms meaning the same thing were used at that time (education permanente, lifelong education, permanent education etc.). International organizations such as UNESCO, the EU or the OECD played a prominent role in fostering the idea and principles of Lifelong Learning (Dohmen, 1996). In 1970 Paul Lengrand published principles of lifelong education supported by the UNESCO-initiative during the “International Year of Education”; the Faure-Report (1973) strongly recommended strengthening the relevance of informal learning and proclaimed lifelong learning as a ‘master concept’ for educational policies; and, in 1996 a year for Lifelong Learning was celebrated through an initiative of the OECD and the UNESCO.
The development of the Learning Regions-Initiatives was closely connected to these ideas (Goncalves, 2008). In 1973 there was an OECD initiative to establish ‘educating cities’. Seven cities were invited to develop strategies on prioritizing (lifelong) education: Adelaide, Edmonton, Edinburgh, Gothenburg, Kakgawa, Pittsburgh and Vienna. The objective of this event was to improve economic performance through the provision of education and learning.
In the 1980s the term ‘learning city’ became more common and this was extended to encompass 'learning communities'. People talking about learning cities were convinced that only people are able to learn but learning happens in and can be supported by cultural and social interactions. This is why and how communities learn because their members share common goals, take efforts to attain them and so seek a common understanding and create shared knowledge. In this sense learning not only leads to better economic performance; it also supports the development of society in a democratic way through social inclusion, environmentally friendly behaviour and so on. According to Goncalves (2008) the idea of learning cities in the 21st century has two key pillars: equity and sustainability. In the last decade learning generally became more and more important: as a political concept in further developing cities and regions from the bottom up and so fostering sustainable development and active citizenship; as a concept to reduce inequality in our society; and – last but not least – as a concept to support economic development.
An overview of lifelong learning developments recognises that they align with other contemporary socio-economic issues such as: the development of a knowledge economy/society, increasing globalization and individualization, sustainability and demographic change. Goncalves (2008) and Osborne (2011) provide an overview of the association between those developments and the changes in the idea of learning regions or cities. Since an important topic of the R3L+ project is quality we focus briefly on developments in the learning sciences during the last decades believing that those changes had (have) a great influence on what we understand of quality and how we define it
This handbook has been designed to help those who are concerned with the reinforcement of local cooperation, as well as building and managing the learning region or city. It is intended to help lifelong learning practitioners on promoting a common culture of quality in local networks of lifelong learning.
The handbook offers case studies of Learning regions and Cities in Europe, taking into consideration their overall strategy, aims and objectives, framework of action, network architectures and organisational structures. It in particular looks at the various ways in which partnerships are built, means and ways of participation, how goal achievement is ensured, and action taken in order to stimulate the emergence of local "learning cultures”.