COLLABORATIVE AND SUSTAINABLE LEARNING FOR A FAIRER WORLD: RHETORIC OR REALITY?
Action Learning and Action Research aims to “generate collaborative learning, research and action” (ALARA, 2013) to attain local and global change in pursuit of a fairer world – fairer meaning more socially just and also more attractive in terms of an improved quality of life for all. The complexity of life in the 21st century makes such learning essential for all, in both well-resourced and socio-economically challenged contexts. Traditional approaches to research tend to determine what people need, and to address those needs by recommending the allocation of resources – more money, more infrastructure, more services, more programmes. However, due to the top-down nature of the recommendations, those who most need the resources often struggle to access and use them to their benefit, increasing the gap between rich and poor, the advantaged and the disadvantaged. Unless we aim to develop the capacity of people to identify and use resources, they are unlikely to profit from them. Action Learning and Action Research purports to increase the ability of people to learn how to adapt to rapidly changing social, economic and political imperatives. But are we really living up to these claims?
The theme of this conference is a challenge to Action Learning / Action Research practitioners the world over, whether working in resource rich or more socio-economically challenged contexts, to explain how they are contributing to the creation of a fairer world. The ALARA World Congress 2015 will create a space for dialogue as we ponder questions such as:
How do we know we are asking the right questions to promote sustainable learning?
How do we capacitate people to address the intricate interplay of social, economic, political and cultural factors that combine to preserve injustice?
How do we ensure authentic collaboration between stakeholders across all levels?
How do we use AL/AR to forge innovative, sustainable responses to contemporary complex challenges?
How do we know we are successful in mediating sustainable change?
In other words, as advocates of AL/AR, what are we doing, why are we doing it and what has our doing done? Are we really making a difference where it is needed or is it empty rhetoric and wishful thinking?
The World Congress will thus create a learning opportunity for delegates to share and to inspire each other to try new approaches and network with people to sustain their own learning as we strive to create a fairer world. The theme “Collaborative and sustainable learning for a fairer world: rhetoric or reality?” will be explored through symposia, paper presentations, poster presentations and workshops grouped into the following broad areas of interest:
Education: This strand covers Action Learning/Action Research work being done on local/global scales in both formal and informal education contexts. How has AL/AR been used to align education with life-enhancing values? How has our research promoted learning and development among those previously excluded from formal education? How has AL/AR contributed to transformation, equity and social justice?
Organisational Development/Workplace: This strand covers Action Learning/Action Research in organisational design, organisational development, organisational change, personnel development, systems thinking, soft systems methodology, evaluation, and similar areas of interest - how has AL/AR been used, and to what effect; what could be done differently to gain greater acceptance, use and outcomes; and where to from here?
Community: Action Learning/Action Research has been used in many situations dealing with partnerships, health, welfare, advocacy, gender and community development matters, but are there examples of this work that have been ground-breaking, and have they been or should they be acknowledged and lauded at local, national and international levels? How is our AL/AR community engagement contributing to improving the quality of life for all?
Innovations: This strand considers changes or growth in the way in which AL/AR is utilised and interpreted, technological innovations for AL/AR, and use of AL/AR in a global economy, and questions how AL/AR will stay relevant in the ever-increasing speed of change and need for immediate knowledge.
Conserving the Environment - Sustainability: Many local and community Action Learning/Action Research projects have been about or involved the environment and local resources, but what has been the impact of AL/AR on the debate and actions on conserving the environment and resources of nations and the world; what should AL/AR practitioners be doing to ensure the environment for our grand-children's grandchildren?
We encourage presentations that focus on local, national and international use of Action Learning and Action Research. We also encourage novel approaches to symposia/workshops, using arts-based strategies such as dance, music, and visual arts. If your presentation crosses / covers more than one strand, please indicate your preference for a strand.
Paper presentations: A 30-minute presentation, which allows time for audience interaction. Presentations will be grouped together to form logical themes where possible.
Symposiums: These sessions will comprise three/four thematically related presentations which must be submitted as one unit. Each presentation will be allowed 15 minutes, followed by 15-30 minutes (depending on number of papers) of facilitated discussion. (90 minutes)
Workshops: A workshop is an interactive session that is designed to ensure audience participation through activities intended to share the knowledge created by the research in question. (90 minutes)
Poster presentations: Graphic displays of action research projects, both in progress and completed, which will allow the delegates to engage in dialogue with the researcher(s). Poster viewing will be allocated a specific time on the programme but the posters will be on display throughout the World Congress.
Artistic displays: Music, visual art, drama, dance events that highlight issues relevant to the conference theme are all welcome. These will be allocated space throughout the conference where appropriate.