What links learning, knowledge exchange, participation and interdisciplinarity?

 Posted by sustainable on January 11, 2012 

The Sustainable Learning website brings together some of the latest thinking on learning, knowledge exchange (and knowledge management), participation from thinkers working at the boundaries between many different academic disciplines. What do we mean by each of these terms, and how are they linked? Here are some initial thoughts – tell us what they mean to you, and send us links to your latest work so we can share what you’re doing with the wider community of people interested in these topics:

Learning generates individual knowledge, which may inform the way we each behave

  • Social learning generates collective understanding, which has the potential to facilitate social change
  • Knowledge exchange is the process of learning from each other – the result depends on what is actually learned, rather than what is taught
  • Knowledge is not a gift that is always easily given – it is a gift that needs to be actively taken, unwrapped, understood and used
  • Stakeholder & public participation enables more of us to engage in active learning to exchange existing knowledge and generate new knowledge together, from the individual to societal scale
  • Working with stakeholders we can access know-how. Researchers can give us the know-why. We also need know-when and know-who to communicate and generate knowledge with the right people in the place at the right time
  • Social learning is about the breadth of learning. Many have focused on the depth e.g. triple loop learning. But we also need to consider learning potential – being connected to a diverse knowledge network that can give us targeted knowledge when & where we need it
  • Interdisciplinarity is when individuals from different disciplines learn from each other, exchanging old knowledge and working together to generate new knowledge that combines insights from more than one discipline

For more ideas about social learning, see “What is social learning?” and for more ideas about different ways of viewing knowledge and knowledge exchange, see our working paper, “Designing knowledge exchange for resilience: how people view and construct knowledge matters”